[The following is Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja’s discourse in Bali, on February 26, 1997, on the Appearance Day of his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. In this discouse as in others, in places where the meaning was not very clear, we have edited it for clarity. We have added subtitles for ease of reading. The Harikatha team. (First published October 2018)]
On the Svarupa of the Jiva
Once, I was in Mathura. I was like the president of that matha – matha-raksaka (matha commander). There, in the month of Kartika , Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja, Pujyapada Yayavara Maharaja, Pujyapada [Bhakti Dayita] Madhava Maharaja, and so many learned sannyasis of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati were assembled.
At that meeting, a junior sannyasi named Hrsikesa Maharaja asked to everyone – I was also very new, but I was attentively hearing all these things.
He raised a question, “I have heard so many contradictory things about the jiva svarupa. Someone said that the jiva has no special svarupa. It is like white paper. As the jiva receives any association, something may come from that association and his svarupa will be like that. There is nothing specific in the svarupa of the jiva.
“Some say, ‘No. There is some definite (specific) svarupa of the jiva.’ ”jivera svarupa haya krsnera nitya-dasa,
krsnera tatastha sakti bheda’bheda prakasa
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 20.108)
["It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa because he is the marginal energy of Kṛṣṇa and a manifestation simultaneously one with and different from the Lord."]
Hrsikesa Maharaja continued, “They say, ‘Jivera svarupa haya krsnera nitya-dasa.’ The jivas each have a special kind of svarupa of nitya krsna dasa. If he is nitya-dasa, then certainly any of the five rasas will be there. Otherwise, how will he be nitya-dasa? There are five kinds of dasa – santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhurya. Any of the five must be the jiva’s svarupa forever. His body will be like so, as will all his qualities and his special rasa – how he will serve Krsna. Everything must be there. As in a seed, there is some potency of any special thing. It is not that from a particular seed, any plant may come.’
”Hrsikesa Maharaja concluded, “So, we are in confusion about what to accept. In our line, has Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, or Srila Jiva Gosvami made any good siddhanta – fixed siddhanta – for this or not?” We are in confusion.
They [the sannyasi disciples of Srila Prabhupada] were all discussing this very powerfully. All were so learned. You cannot imagine how learned was the caliber of that council of Vaisnavas, like Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja, Guru Maharaja [Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja], Srila Yayavara Maharaja, Srila Puri Maharaja, Srila Gosvami Maharaja, and also Srila Madhava Maharaja.
At that time, we were very little babies [young devotees]. We had no courage to sit among them; we sat very far away. [At this point in the lecture, Srila Narayana Maharaja folded his palms, as if offering pranama to the god-brothers of his guru maharaja.] But I was so bold that I took a panka (fan) [He then pretended to wave a fan in the air], and in this way, I stood close to them. I gave them water and other things. I was there, certainly, to hear all this and take notes.
During the discussion, our Guru Maharaja gave so many good arguments that the jiva has a special svarupa. He said we don’t have to go very far away. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has mentioned this in his Siksastakam explanation of the first sloka and the fifth sloka. The fifth sloka states, “Ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram.” Nanda-tanuja kinkaram. What is this? One may be kinkara (a male servant), kinkari (a female servant) – anything – but of Krsna.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu is also telling this, and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is explaining His words. As Krsna has a beautiful shape, the jiva has also, whether he is liberated or covered with maya in this world. There must be a potency of all these things – that the jiva has a very beautiful shape, either in dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, or madhurya. The jiva may even have a very beautiful gopi shape.
What is the special service of that jiva? How old is he? What are his qualities? What is the color of his body? The speciality of all these must be there in potency – like a seed. In a seed, if there is potency of a mango, then a mango will come; no other tree will come. If it is a seed of a neem tree, banyan tree, plantain, or anything, only what is in the seed will manifest. Take hundreds of seeds to the bank of the Ganges and put them in that soil. You may give the same water, same air, and same sun rays, but you will see that different kinds of plants will come out. Different kinds of fruit will come; not the same.
The association of water, sun, air, and soil; everything was the same. But why did the seeds produce so many separate things?
All the jivas have separate shapes, attributes, qualities, serving moods, and so on. These will not be changed in any association. By association, the same thing the jiva has in his seed – that is, in his svarupa – will manifest. We see that Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written this. Jiva Gosvami has also pointed this out. All acaryas have pointed like this, especially, Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana; but we must have such intelligence that we can see all these things.
Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja gave an example of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu wanted to change Murari Gupta, and also Srivasa Pandita, who was Narada of Vaikuntha. But they were not changed. Also, Anupama was not changed.
Gopala Bhatta Gosvami and his father and uncles were changed. Millions were changed, but they were not changed. Why? Because they were perfect in their svarupa. Hanuman was Murari Gupta, so he will not change. Srivasa Acarya is always Narada, and he is out of maya. He will not be changed. Similarly, whatever is in one’s eternal svarupa will never be changed.
My Guru Maharaja explained that those whose svarupa is of vraja-bhava, or gopi-bhava, or any bhava – no matter whom they associate with, they will have only what is in their svarupa. They will never be changed. Yasoda knows how Krsna loves the gopis, and the sakhas also know, but they will not be changed. Our svarupa is like that.
He gave so many arguments there. They all [the god-brothers of Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja] admitted this conclusion. So, we should have a fixed siddhanta that each jiva has its own shape, qualities, and service to Radha and Krsna. If one goes to madhurya-rasa association and he is (by constitution) in sakhya-rasa, he will remain in sakhya-rasa. He cannot be changed from that. Or, if he has a sakhya-rasa guru but he is in madhurya-rasa, then, like Gopa Kumara, he will not be satisfied in that. After reaching that, he will want more and more, and he will proceed to another Gurudeva. At last, he will go to that point – madhurya.
Guru Maharaja gave so many arguments there, but I have no time to tell so elaborately.
Glorifying his Prabhupada
I went with him in Mayapura to the samadhi of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura. There, when he used to tell anything, and while doing pranama to Prabhupada, uttering “Pra….bhu,” he could never complete (the word “Prabhupada”). He used to weep, and he was so inspired. All sattvika-vikaras used to come. We have seen. Then he would tell us to speak – not with his words, but indicating with his hands. His eyes were filled with tears.
Sometimes he used to say, “We have heard of Sankaracarya, we have heard of Ramanuja, Nimbarka, and all other acaryas. They were very great acaryas, very powerful. They preached everywhere – with the help of sword and money, and with the help of so many big kings and all others.
“But regarding Prabhupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura, not even one rich person’s help was with him. Very little, little boys (young men), brahmacaris and sannyasis of very little age – about sixteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, that’s all. They used to each take a small box to the railway station, in railway compartments, door-to-door, telling the message of Srila Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
“Thus, in a very short time, it has spread all over India. And after that it will go to all the villages and towns and cities of the world. He never took any help from very big kings or anything. No sword, no nothing. He took only one paisa, two paisa, three paisa from each person. Nothing more.
Visiting Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja
Once, I went with him to Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja. Every year after Gaura Purnima, our Guru Maharaja used to go to Sridhara Maharaja to pay respect. The matha you see of Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja was in Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti. Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja had told our Guru Maharaja, “I don’t want to preach here and there. I am becoming old. So please give that land to me. I will make a bhajana kutira there, and you should preach here and there, boldly and strongly, because you are so much qualified.
Guru Maharaja did it. He transferred the land to him and he used to preach, and later on he took sannyasa from him.
So we used to go each year after Gaura Purnima. Once, while I was there, I saw so many learned sannyasis of Srila Prabhupada. They were all meeting with Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja together. They are “arguing with each other” on so many points of tattva:
tasmin mahan-mukharita madhubhic-caritra-
piyusa-sesa-saritaḥ paritaḥ sravanti
ta ye pibanty avitrso nrpa gaḍha-karnais
tan na sprsanty asana-trd-bhaya-soka-mohah
Where there are Vaisnavas – qualified Vaisnava devotees – automatically a stream comes from their mouths without stopping; endless, and so powerful. If anyone hears the pastimes and tattva of Krsna from them, at once he will cross the border of mortal existence and will go directly to Goloka Vrndavana to serve Radha and Krsna.
I saw a very high class of Vaisnava council; so many learned persons there, and they were discussing many topics. A sloka came:
krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta
diksasti cet pranatibhis ca bhajantam isam
susrusaya bhajana-vijnam ananyam anya-
[Sri Upadesamrta, 5]
This verse explains how to respect the three kinds of Vaisnavas – this is the duty of madhyama-adhikari. A madhyama-adhikari will honor three types of Vaisnavas according to their qualifications.
Srila Rupa Gosvami explained in Upadesamrta, “Yasya giri tam manasadriyeta.” If someone has at any time uttered “Krsna,” even one time, he should be treated and honored as a Vaisnava. “Diksasti ceta.” If he has been initiated, he should be offered pranama and also honored by mind. If he is not criticizing or committing offence to any Vaisnava (“nindadi-sunya”) if he is above all others in Vaisnava qualities and always absorbed in thinking about the pastimes of Krsna and Caitanya Mahaprabhu – he has no time to see who is he is and who is anyone else – then he is a first class (uttama) Vaisnava. We should respect him in all ways, thinking that “He is the intimate friend of my heart (prana-bandhu). You should serve him with all your senses, even giving your head (risking your life).
A question arose among some of the god-brothers regarding “diksasti ceta”: Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explained that if anyone is taking harinama, we should do pranama. And, for anyone who has taken diksa, we should do pranama and honor by mind also. But Prabhupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati has explained that only when one is diksasti ceta can he be offered manasadriyeta (honor by mind). Otherwise not.
There was some difference in opinion among the god-brothers. If any Vaisnava is taking harinama, but doing offences and has so many anarthas, Prabhupada is telling that we should not do pranama to him. If that person is only taking tilaka and mala, and not taking the siddhanta, we should not honor him as a Vaisnava; by honoring him, we cannot progress.
So, there was an argument regarding whether Bhaktivinoda Thakura is correct or Srila Prabhupada is correct. All were of different opinions. In the last, our Guru Maharaja – he was so grave – he gave many good arguments.
He said, “Now we know Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Now we know Rupa Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami, and all the authentic acaryas. We know Bhaktivinoda Thakura also. We know them only through Prabhupada. Prabhupada has made them known to us all. He has opened our eyes.
“So if Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, has given all these things, and he has glorified them all, teaching us who are they – Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Rupa Gosvami, etc. – then we should adopt what Prabhupada has written. He knows Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Rupa Gosvami and Caitanya Mahaprabhu more than us – a hundred times more. We should accept the theory and principles of Srila Prabhupada, because he knows so much. We should not try to change even a letter of any of his words. What he has written is true to the highest extent.
”All were astonished, and they all took the view that “He is telling right.” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is undoubtedly a svarupa-siddha mahatma, and Bhaktivinoda Thakura also. Srila Prabhupada knows everyone, and he has told what it what. In the many writings of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, there may be some doubt regarding the meaning. Two meanings can be given. However, in the writing of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati there are not two meanings. There is only one meaning. He says everything directly.
Once, Gurudeva wrote in his Gaudiya Patrika: The siddhanta of Sankaracarya is only for lower schools, not for higher education siddhanta. We only tell Sankhya siddhanta in relation to the opposite party (vipaksa), only to tell newcomers that his siddhanta, kevala-advaita-vada, niversesa-vada, is mayavada. Only for them. In higher studies, the teachings of Ramanuja, Madhvacarya, Visnusvami, and all others like them are presented. And higher, the teachings of Rupa Gosvami, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami and all others like them.
Hearing this, a pakka (first class) mayavadi who was a college principal challenged, “This is not right. Sankaracarya was the most learned person in the whole of India, and he preached mayavada throughout world. You are committing an offence at his lotus feet. I challenge you to prove your statements.” Guru Maharaja then wrote a very powerful article for our Patrika.
At that time, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja wrote to Guru Maharaja saying that “I’ll do it first, and then you write something afterward. I want to prove your words true.” And then he wrote. You can read there his very, very important article. At last, that mayavadi’s mouth was closed. They defeated him and became victorious.
Anything Guru Maharaja heard or read in any magazine, or anywhere, that was opposed to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura or Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s philosophy, he at once jumped up to write against them. His pen was not only like a fountain pen; it was like a sword. All opposing parties used to fear him.
He did so many things, but time is over. My doctor is warning also. Yet, I can tell one more thing. He was so grave and so strong in his philosophy; but on the other hand, he was very, very soft like flowers.
vajrad api kathorani
mrduni kusumad api
ko nu vijnatum isvaraḥ
[Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila, 7.73]
What is the meaning? He was more strong than a thunderbolt and more soft than a flower. I’ve seen him on so many occasions. Once, Srila Vamana Maharaja was working at a press. He was in charge of the press – brhat-mrdanga – in Chuchura, and he was helping someone to do corrections with a compositor. In the meantime, somehow the press was started, and somehow the machine came on his hand and his fingers were cut down.
So much blood was coming. Guru Maharaja heard about this and at once began to weep. He took Srila Vamana Maharaja in his lap, and then took him to Calcutta with some brahmacaris, and admitted him into a very good hospital. The cut fingers were joined, and after many days he returned to the press.
I have seen how Gurudeva was worried, and how he wept for his devotees. It was not only this time. I saw on so many occasions that he would have given anything for devotees. On some occasions, some of his god-brothers making challenged, “Why are you spending so much for your disciples?” He told them frankly, “They have given up their homes, their wealth, their wives, their fathers, mothers and everything. How can I give them up? I cannot give them up.” Some of them then gave up our Guru Maharaja and established other mathas, but he didn’t change. Still, so many god-brothers remained with him. He used to honor them and help them. So he was so bold and strong, and on the other hand he was so soft.
After Srila Prabhupada, it seemed like his mission would be doomed. But again he started all the activities previously performed, and a good mission was going all over India. He kept me in Mathura for preaching. I cannot so much as touch the glories of my Gurudeva.
I have seen that he had such guru-nistha (strong faith) in his Gurudeva that I have never seen in anyone. His god-brothers also admitted this fact, that he used to give his life for the service of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Guru-seva, guru-nistha, is the backbone of bhakti. If there is no guru-seva and guru-nistha, there is no bhakti. If some, then something. I’m fortunate to see all these things in my Gurudeva – how much guru-nistha he had. He could not bear anything against his Guru Maharaja.
I am offering my heart as a puspanjali (flower offering) to him, so that we can understand who is Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who is Rupa Gosvami, who is Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, who is Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Gadadhara Pandita, and all. And, so that we can understand what are the services of Sri Radha and Krsna conjugal. May he mercifully manifest in our heart – gurau pracodayat.
I pray to my Gurudeva and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and all our disciplic order that they will be pleased with you all. I pray that they will sprinkle their causeless mercy on you that you will be in their line forever, and that you will have the service of Radha-Krsna Conjugal, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and Nityananda Prabhu.