Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja

Badger, California: June 17, 2005 (Part 1)

Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja

[This class is a continuation of the discussion of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's book, Sri Bhagavata Arka Maricimala]

I offer my millions of heart-touching dandavats unto the lotus feet of my param-aradyattama gurupada-padma, nitya-lila-pravista om visnupada, Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. And I offer the same, millions of dandavat pranams, to the lotus feet of my siksa-guru, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja.

We have completed our discussion of abhidheya-tattva (the process adopted to attain the object of life, love of God) *[See endnote 1]. We have completed this, and now we will discuss sadhana-bhakti. For what purpose is sadhana-bhakti practiced? I have explained our aim and object of life. Sri Krsna personally admitted that the love of Srimati Radharani and the gopis is the highest love. This is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam:

na paraye ’ham niravadya-samyujam
sva-sadhu-krtyam vibudhayusapi vah
ya mabhajan durjara-geha-srnkhalah
samvrscya tad vah pratiyatu sadhuna

[“I am not able to repay My debt for your spotless service, even within a lifetime of Brahma. Your connection with Me is beyond reproach. You have worshiped Me, cutting off all domestic ties, which are difficult to break. Therefore please let your own glorious deeds be your compensation.”(Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.32.22)]

Sri Uddhava also admitted this:

vande nanda-vraja-strinam
pada-renum abhiksnasah
yasam hari-kathodgitam
punati bhuvana-trayam

[“I repeatedly offer my respects to the dust from the feet of the women of Nanda Maharaja's cowherd village. When these gopis loudly chant the glories of Sri Krsna, the vibration purifies the three worlds.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.47.63)]

asam aho carana-renu-jusam aham syam
vrndavane kim api gulma-latausadhinam
ya dustyajam sva-janam arya-patham ca hitva
bhejur mukunda-padavim srutibhir vimrgyam

[“The gopis of Vrndavana have given up the association of their husbands, sons and other family members, who are very difficult to give up, and they have forsaken the path of chastity to take shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, Krsna, which one should search for by Vedic knowledge. Oh, let me be fortunate enough to be one of the bushes, creepers or herbs in Vrndavana, because the gopis trample them and bless them with the dust of their lotus feet.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.47.61)]

Gopi-prema, and especially radha-prema, is the highest love. We living beings cannot touch that highest love, however. So for us, radha-dasya (service to Srimati Radhika) is the highest; we perform our sadhana (devotional practices) for that end. Sadhana-bhakti is the beginning of bhakti. Then bhava-bhakti (transcendental emotions in the beginning stage of prema) manifests, and finally prema-bhakti (pure love of God) appears.

Prema can never be achieved in this material body. In this body you can reach asakti, the stage of spontaneous attachment to Krsna, and bhava, or rati – only this. But Lord Sri Krsna is very merciful. If you are chanting and remembering in such a way that your unwanted desires and mentalities disappear, and suddha-sattva (bhava-bhakti) has come, then Sri Krsna's transcendental potency called Yogamaya will mercifully take you to the place where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes are going on in any universe – in His abode of Navadvipa-dhama of that universe. You will be His associate there, and you will serve Srila Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami. There you will know everything. Then, in your next birth, Yogamaya will quickly take you to the place where Krsna-lila is going on – to bhauma Vraja in any universe. There you will have a chance to associate with siddha-gopis, Sri Radha's eternally perfect associates. By their mercy you will be able to achieve full perfection in Her service, and this is the goal.

To this end, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has collected a garland of verses in his book Bhagavata Arka Maricimala; and he explains some of these verses in relation to sadhana-bhakti.

Don’t be neutral at any time. “Neutral” means having no enthusiasm. When there is no enthusiasm you can fall down. If kirtana is going on, we should not think, “I am neutral”. If this or that Krsna conscious function is going on, we should not think, “Oh, I am neutral.” Be on the side of bhakti. We saw that so many devotees attended the Govardhana-annakuta ceremony here in Badger, and all were enthusiastic.

Be enthusiastic at the time of hearing, remembering, serving the Lord’s lotus feet (pada sevanam) and worship of the Deity form of the Lord (arcanam). Cooking is also arcanam – don’t be neutral at any time. This is the symptom of bhakti. If one has bhakti, one is enthusiastic to first please guru and to then please Sri Krsna. How will we know that guru is happy with my activities? He will know. You can hide from yourself, but not from guru; so don’t be neutral in any situation.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is emphasizing that in sadhana-bhakti we should continue to practice with firm determination. In this regard we have the historic example of the Tridandi-biksuka. [This is a Sannyasi who begs from door to door, to enlighten householders and to personally develop qualities that are favorable to bhakti, such as tolerance, meekness and humility.] When he would go for begging in his native place, the residents there would take his kamandalu, water pot, and pass urine in it. They would break his danda, insult him and put stool on his head, calling him, “Dongi (imitation or imposter) Sannyasi.” Yet, he was so tolerant. He never cared about the insults, and he continued to go there again and again.

Following this example, if any bad person cheats you, you should think, “No harm.” If anyone pushes you and you fall down, or if anyone insults you, if anyone is violent or extremely envious towards you, be tolerant. Srila Haridasa Thakura was beaten and tortured, and Prahlada Maharaja was attempted to be killed. If anyone binds you, forcibly takes your entire wealth by cheating or dacoiting in front of you, if anyone spits on you, simply be tolerant. Everyone should hear this carefully, especially sannyasis – and among sannyasis, especially senior sannyasis.

If anyone urinates on your head or body, still, be tolerant and continue performing bhakti with enthusiasm. Don’t be hopeless, thinking, “I should not continue.”

If in these cases you are tolerant and continue developing your bhakti, Lord Sri Krsna will be very soon pleased with you. He will be happy, Gurudeva will be happy, and you will be happy and achieve your goal. Sometimes I see in these cases that you are bewildered, not knowing what to do or what not to do.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has collected verses in this regard. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, Tridandi Upakyam (the life and character of the Tridandi-sannyasi) has been given, and in Caitanya-caritamrta the history of Srila Haridasa Thakura and others have given. You should be like them.

This is sadhana. At the time of sadhana you should be very strong, as exemplified in the above-mentioned life histories. I see that some become hopeless and give up bhakti. They think, “Bhakti is nothing. Why do so many calamities and sufferings come? I should give up.” You should not give up.

[* Endnote 1 – “By practicing this regulated devotional service under the direction of the spiritual master, certainly one awakens his dormant love of Godhead. This process is called abhidheya.” (Caitanya-caritamrta, 7.142)]

[This ends Part 1]

Editor: Syamarani dasi
Transcriber: Vasanti dasi
Typist: Anita dasi