Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
The following is a lecture excerpted from Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja’s book, The Origin of Ratha-yatra. You can download the entire book by clicking on the title. ]
We should know that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is one without a second. He is the same God for the Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and all others. There are not different Gods – He is the same God, the same Allah, the same Christ. Just as there is one sun and one moon for the entire world, similarly, there are not different Gods for different people. How can God be divided? There cannot be more than one God; otherwise all the gods will quarrel over territory and position. There is only one God, but He appears according to the vision of the devotee.
An analogy can be given in relation to the moon. It appears that there are fifteen different moons. For fifteen days the moon gradually increases in size, eventually becoming a full moon. After that it decreases in size again, becoming a new moon on the last day of the month. The “moons” are not different; it is the names of the moon that are different: full moon, new moon, quarter moon, and so on. Similarly, there is only one God, but He appears to be many because people have seemingly divided Him up by their different languages and understandings.
Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He has many manifestations such as Rama, Nrsimha, Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Narayana, and they are all the same. Even the person Christians call “God” is the same, for He is also one of Krsna’s manifestations, as are Allah and Jehovah. These are all names of God’s manifestations. Some of these manifestations are more complete and have more power, and some have less power. The full moon, the new moon, and the stages in between all belong to the same moon, but we see differences according to our angle of vision. Actually, the moon is always full, but we consider that it is waxing or waning when it is covered to varying degrees.
In the same way, Krsna is one without a second. He has innumerable manifestations, but they are all Krsna. We are also parts and parcels of Krsna. We are not Krsna, but at the same time, we are non-different from Him. Both principles are there: difference and non-difference. We can use the analogies of the sun and its rays, and the fire and its heat; they are also different and nondifferent. This is an astonishing truth, which Caitanya Mahaprabhu has explained thoroughly.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is one without a second. Sometimes He manifests in this world personally, and sometimes He sends His associates to give pure knowledge. All the souls here in this world are eternal servants of that Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the true conception, whether we accept it or not. We have forgotten Him from the beginning of the creation of this world, so He sometimes descends and performs very sweet and powerful pastimes so that all conditioned souls will be attracted to Him and engage in His service. He sometimes descends as Krsna, sometimes as Rama, and sometimes as Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra.
We cannot realize Krsna if our hearts are full of lust, worldly desires, and unwanted habits. He cannot come into our hearts under these circumstances; so these impurities must first be given up. There is no place for doubt in devotion. No one has any confusion or doubt about whether the sun exists, so why should there be any doubt about the existence of the creator of millions of suns? He can create millions and millions of worlds in a moment, and He can also destroy them. Sometimes He comes here, only to save us and to engage us all in His service. Other than serving Him, there is no way to be happy in this world or in any other world. There is only one God, and ignoring Him is the cause of our unhappiness.
We can be happy if we engage in Krsna’s service. Don’t be afraid that serving Him will be like serving someone in this world. There is immense happiness in serving Him, more so than in serving your wife, husband, children, father, and so on. There is very, very relishable love and affection in His service. There is so much love and affection in Krsna’s transcendental abode – oceans of love and affection. In this world the master gains and the servant has to lose something, but it is not like that there.
First we should know that we are Krsna’s eternal servants, but we have forgotten Him, and that is the cause of all our suffering and sorrow, birth and death. We should have very firm faith in this. Don’t have any doubt that we are spirit souls, parts and parcels of Godhead, that we are His eternal servants, and that it is due to forgetting Him that we are suffering now. We can realize His mercy if we chant His name and surrender to Him, giving up all doubts as Arjuna did.
Jagannatha-deva, Baladeva Prabhu, and Subhadra have descended to this world from their transcendental abode. We will gradually try to explain the true identity (svarupa) of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra – who they are and how they came to
Today is the day of gundica-mandira-marjana, the cleansing of the Gundica Temple. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta states that the temple of Jagannatha represents Dvaraka, while the temple at Gundica is called Sundaracala and represents Vrndavana. All the gopis, such as Lalita, Visakha, and Srimati Radhika, are there in Vrndavana, and so are Nanda Baba, Yaçoda, and all the other Vrajavasis. Vasudeva, Devaki, Baladeva, Subhadra, and all the other Dvarakavasis reside in Dvaraka. While Krsna resides in Dvaraka, He always remembers the Vrajavasis – His father Nanda Baba, His mother Yasoda, His cows, calves, friends, and especially His beloved gopis. He sometimes becomes so distraught in separation from them that He arranges to go to Vrndavana to meet them.
One day before the Ratha-yatra Festival, Mahaprabhu leads all the devotees to the Gundica Mandira to clean it. On the next day, Jagannatha goes to Gundica Mandira along with Baladeva, Subhadra, and His devotees for ten days, after which they all return. Just as Jagannatha goes to Gundica Mandira after it is cleaned, so He may come into your heart if you make it very pure and clean.
This festival of gundica-marjana has been performed every year since Satya-yuga. In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta we see that previously, before the participation of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the servants of the King used to clean that temple, but they would not clean it properly because they were being paid to do it. They could not give Jagannatha much pleasure because they had no devotion. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore told the King through his priest Kasi Misra, “I would like the service of cleaning the temple and the surrounding area to be given to us.” He told Kasi Misra, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, and others, “Please get permission from the King so that this year I Myself will serve the Gundica Mandira along with My associates. We will sweep and clean it ourselves. There is no need to send any servants of the King; no need at all. We only need some brooms and pitchers.”
Hundreds and thousands of pitchers and brooms were obtained, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s associates arrived. Thousands of Bengali devotees and many thousands of Orissan devotees accompanied Caitanya Mahaprabhu with dancing and kirtana. They had about fifteen mrdangas and many karatalas. Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally gave them all garlands and candana, and then, dancing in line formation, they all began to sing. They all went to Gundica Mandira, singing and dancing, and holding their brooms and pitchers.
The King became very happy. He wanted to meet Caitanya Mahaprabhu and serve Him, but although he was a very high-class devotee, he had the name and position of a king. He had great wealth and reputation and was always surrounded by armies, commanders, and so on. Following the regulations of the sannyasa order, Caitanya Mahaprabhu never wanted a sense enjoyer (visayi) such as a king to come to Him. He considered that it would be a disturbance, because He would be bound to hear mundane talk (visayi-katha). We will be alarmed and fearful if a snake comes near us, even if its poison has been removed. Similarly, a devotee fears association with a sense enjoyer because it will disturb his sadhana-bhajana. Now, however, we ourselves are like sense enjoyers, because we are hankering for wealth, reputation, and position.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Svayam Bhagavan Himself. He is nondifferent from Jagannatha, but He was playing the role of a devotee, which is why He had sent a representative to tell the King, “I want to go personally and clean the entire temple.” The King had then requested Kasi Misra, who was his superintendent, minister, priest, and spiritual master, “His devotees can take whatever utensils and other paraphernalia He wants.”
Mahaprabhu had thus called His associates, such as Svarupa Damodara, Raya Ramananda, Gadadhara Pandita, and others. Advaita Acarya and Nityananda Prabhu were also there, along with all the Gaudiya bhaktas. There were thousands and thousands of devotees, and on the evening before the festival, Mahaprabhu had told them all, “You should each bring a big broom made of coconut tree fibers, and each of you should also bring a clay pitcher.”
Now, on the next day, at about seven in the morning, devotees assembled from all over India and all over the world – not only one or two hundred thousand, but about one million. First Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted flower garlands and candana Himself, and then He gave them to all the devotees. They all wanted to offer pranama to Him, but instead He very humbly offered pranama to all of them. Nityananda Prabhu wanted to touch His feet, but He very humbly touched Nityananda’s feet.
He had no false ego, thinking, “I am a guru; everyone should respect me. Why should I respect others?” Actually, people who think like that are not pure devotees. A guru is one who respects others. His symptoms are:
trnad api sunicena
taror api sahisnuna
kirtaniyah sada harih
He is very humble, even more so than a blade of grass, and he is also very tolerant, more so than a tree. Even if a tree is dry, it will never request, “Water! Water! Water!” If someone cuts the branches of a tree, it will not protest, “Oh, spare me! Don’t cut me!” It will never speak like that. Mango trees give very sweet mangoes, even if one throws stones at the tree in an attempt to make the mangoes fall. The bark, seeds, fruits, leaves, and sap of trees are always for others, not for themselves. Krsna tells us that we should be like the trees. In other words, our lives should be for others, not for ourselves, and our lives should be especially for Krsna. If one lives only for himself, he is lower in consciousness than the trees.
The devotees with Mahaprabhu were touching each other’s feet and at the same time performing kirtana. Each holding a broom and a pitcher, they performed nagara-sankirtana the entire distance from the Jagannatha Temple to Gundica. The
hundreds of thousands of devotees began to bring water from the very large pond known as Indradyumna-sarovara, and as they did so, they said, “Krsna! Krsna!” to each other as they gave and received the clay pitchers. They were filling their clay pots with water, carrying the pots on their heads or in other ways, and giving them to others, saying, “Hare Krsna!” to others on the way. Then, taking back the empty pots, they again said, “Hare Krsna!” In this way they were running back and forth very quickly. Similarly, while the devotees were sweeping, they were saying, “Krsna! Krsna!” Everything was going on only with the chanting of the names, “Krsna! Krsna!” and no other sound could be heard. If a clay pot was broken due to the haste, there would be sounds of, “O Krsna! Krsna!” and new clay pots were brought from a shop at once.
In this way, everyone was engaged in cleaning the courtyard of the Gundica Mandira. Water was thrown everywhere, and all the areas were cleared so that torrents of water flowed from the drain like the current of a river. Mahaprabhu cleaned everywhere, high and low, throwing water here and there, and thus everything became as clean as His own heart. This is known as gundica-mandira-marjana.
Your heart is like a throne (simhasana), and you will have to clean it if you want to keep Krsna and Radhika there. First clean it, and then They will come. Who will clean it? Nityananda Prabhu may do so and gurudeva may do so, but you will also have to do something. Guru will help you; he has the power to do so, and he is very merciful, but you will also have to do something. You must follow his orders. Be like Arjuna, who told Krsna in Bhagavad-gita (2.7): “sisyas te ’ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam – I have offered myself at Your lotus feet. I will follow Your order and obey all Your instructions.” Krsna then ordered him to fight, and he was successful.
Similarly, guru can help you if you follow and obey him, but if you disobey, that is an offense and your desire to serve Krsna will disappear. Try to obey. For example, gurudeva says, “You should chant every day. You should chant not less than sixteen
rounds, and chant your guru-gayatri and all other gayatri mantras daily.” A disciple may say, “Gurudeva, I’m very weak, I cannot chant gayatri-mantra. When I chant, I get a headache. I become sick and my mind becomes upset. What should I do?” Gurudeva will reply, “You should continue to chant, and your headache, sickness, and all other disturbances will go away. But you will have to do it.” Then, if you do not obey, what can he do?
Although Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He was cleaning the temple. Merely sweeping with a broom will not do, for a broom can never touch our hearts. In order to demonstrate this, Mahaprabhu told His associates, “We should chant and remember, performing kirtana along with the sweeping. Then it will have some effect.” If you are cleaning your house in your householder life, while you sweep you can sing, “Govinda Damodara Madhaveti, Govinda Damodara Madhaveti.” Whatever job you do, chant these names with your heart, and then your heart will be “swept.” It will become pure and clear, neat and clean.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu and all His associates began to perform kirtana with many mrdangas, kholas, and karatalas. The temple compound was so large that over two million devotees were able to fit there, and they swept and cleaned everywhere.
Mahaprabhu personally took His uttariya-vesa (sannyasa upper cloth), and He cleaned the spots that were very stubborn. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 12.1, 99, 104) has stated:
sammarjayan ksalanatah sa gaurah
sva-citta-vac chitalam ujjvalam ca
[“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu washed and cleansed the Gundica Temple with His devotees and associates. In this way He made it as cool and bright as His own heart, and thus He made the temple a befitting place for Sri Krsna to sit.”]
sri-haste karena simhasanera marjana
prabhu age jala ani’ deya bhakta-gana
[“Then Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu began to wash the sitting place of Lord Jagannatha with His own hands, and all the devotees began to bring water to the Lord.”]
nija-vastre kaila prabhu grha sammarjana
mahaprabhu nija-vastre majila simhasana
[“The Lord mopped the rooms with His own clothes, and He polished the throne with them also.”]
We should give up all our worldly positions and ego that dictates, “I am so intelligent; I have so much power; I am the superintendent; I am the monarch of all; I am guru.” Advaita Acarya was Maha-Visnu Himself, but he was very humble and polite, and he also cleaned the temple.
All the devotees were sweeping, as was Caitanyaf Mahaprabhu Himself. First they swept away very big stones, stone chips, and pieces of grass. If you want to make a seat in your heart for Radha and Krsna, your heart must be like Vrndavana, and if you do not make your heart very pure and transcendental like Vrndavana, Krsna cannot come. If you have any worldly desires, they will be like thorns pricking Krsna’s body. These thorns are lust, anger, greed, envy, attachment for worldly things, quarreling, and criticizing. If you want bhakti, don’t criticize anyone. Be tolerant and follow this verse:
trnad api sunicena
taror api sahisnuna
kirtaniyah sada harih
[“One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor, yet is always prepared to give all respect to others, can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord.”]
If you do not have these four qualities, you will never be able to chant, because the holy name is transcendental. You cannot chant with your tongue, and you cannot see Krsna with your eyes.
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah
[“Material senses cannot appreciate Krsna’s holy name, form, qualities, and pastimes. When a conditioned soul is awakened to Krsna consciousness and renders service by using his tongue to chant the Lord’s holy name and taste the remnants of the Lord’s food, the tongue is purified, and one gradually comes to understand who Krsna really is.”]
You should think, “I am serving Krsna by chanting – this is my service. O Krsna, please purify me.” If you surrender and offer yourself unto the lotus feet of Krsna, He will mercifully come and dance on your tongue.
There are three stages of chanting: nama-aparadha, namaabhasa, and suddha-nama. When you practice by your tongue and by your endeavor, this is nama-aparadha. When you chant with some sraddha (faith), then it will be nama-abhasa, and if your chanting is pure, then Krsna Himself will dance on your tongue. We should try to pray to Krsna, “I offer myself unto Your lotus feet, giving up all worldly desires. I have no beloved except You. You are mine.” Be like the gopis, and then Krsna may come.
When the stones were cleared away, the thousands of devotees, along with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Advaita Acarya, and Sri Svarupa Damodara, swept again. Mahaprabhu told them, “I want to see who has swept up the biggest pile of dust. Everyone should collect their pile in their cloths, and I will examine them; otherwise some may cheat the others by only pretending to sweep, but not really doing so.” In the end, everyone saw that Mahaprabhu had swept up much more than all the others combined. Sometimes Mahaprabhu would give a very sweet lesson to those who were only pretending, instead of actually sweeping. He would say to them, “Oh, you have done so much. You should teach others.” Hearing these joking words, all the devotees would laugh.
The devotees swept three times, and there is a deep meaning behind this. We have committed so many offenses, we are in so much ignorance, and we have so many unwanted habits. We should very boldly and strongly give up activities that are not favorable for krsna-bhakti, and we should very boldly reject things and people that are not favorable to bhakti. We should totally reject any wish, any desire, or any result that is not favorable for pleasing Krsna or a pure devotee and guru.
You should reject anyone who criticizes high-class devotees. You can defeat his arguments, and if you are like Hanuman, you can burn all of Lanka and also cut out his tongue. If you are not of Hanuman’s caliber, then you should block your ears and
simply leave that place where criticism is going on. Always try to accept only the things, the society, and the association that are favorable for bhakti. Do not desire or expect praise for yourself. Never have any wish to be honored by others, but always give honor to all devotees according to their standard of bhakti.
The heart of a devotee who is chanting and remembering Krsna should be pure. Why should a brahmacari or sannyasi who has been worshiping, chanting, and serving his gurudeva for twenty years have the desire to marry and amass wealth? And why does he leave aside his sannyasa or brahmacari saffron cloth, and get a girlfriend or even a boyfriend? This is not advancement towards Krsna. It may be that he has neglected
pure devotees and has no faith in his gurudeva’s words, and it may also be that his gurudeva is fallen.
A devotee who is chanting the holy name purely from the beginning will be like Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. Dasa Gosvami left everything and never again accepted worldly enjoyment. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja left worldly life and
his wife and children, and he never returned to them again. If brahmacaris and sannyasis accept worldly life again, it means they have no faith in Krsna’s name. Krsna has invested His whole power, His whole mercy, opulence, and so forth in His name. Brahma can create the world only by the mercy of this name – by his chanting of this name. Sankara, too, can only perform any task by chanting Krsna’s name. Neither of them can do anything without the help of the holy name.
We have no faith that Krsna’s name can maintain our lives. From the beginning, we have no taste and have committed so many offenses. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is therefore telling us, “You must purify your hearts, if you want to be devotees and realize Krsna, and if you want Krsna to be seated in your hearts.” But you have no power to do it. You cannot purify your hearts, so who will purify them? You can do it if you are under the guidance of Mahaprabhu, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Advaita Acarya, Sri Gadadhara Pandita, Sri Svarupa Damodara, and Sri Raya Ramananda. Otherwise, your doubts will never go away, you will commit offenses, and you will remain attached to unwanted habits. So many desires to taste worldly enjoyment will come to you, and you will not be able to check them.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu is therefore instructing us. He Himself was sweeping, along with His devotees, in order to teach us. That is why His devotees swept a first time, then a second time, and then a third time. The first time they swept, they removed big
stones, chips, and grasses; the second time, they removed very fine dust; and the third time still finer dust.
When all the dust was taken out, there still remained spots of black tar, which cannot be removed simply by sweeping. For this you will have to try much harder. You will have to use a very sharp instrument, and then you will have to wash off the spots with a cleaner like kerosene or alcohol. These spots are our offenses, and they will not disappear by sweeping alone. These spots are deceit (kutinati ) and desires for profit (labha), adoration (puja), and fame (pratistha). Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila, 19.159) has explained this, and Srila Swami Maharaja has given the translation:
nisiddhacara kutinati jiva-himsana
labha-puja-pratisthadi yata upasakha-gana
[“Some unnecessary creepers growing with the bhakti creeper are the creepers of behavior unacceptable for those trying to attain perfection: diplomatic behavior, animal killing, mundane profiteering, mundane adoration, and mundane importance. All these are unwanted creepers.”]
Nowadays, many persons have no proper respect for Vaisnavas. They tell them, “Oh, you cannot enter our temple.” Juniors are not giving proper respect to seniors, and seniors are not giving proper respect, love, and affection to juniors. This is the problem, and the root of it is offenses to the holy name. Many devotees have no regard for the holy name. They have no strong faith in chanting, and that is why so many senior devotees are going away and junior devotees are coming, becoming senior, and then also going away. These are the problems nowadays. You can easily give up your children, your wives, your husbands, your relatives, and even your wealth. But it is very hard to give up the desire for praise, and it is hard to follow this verse (Siksastaka (3):
trnad api sunicena
taror api sahisnuna
kirtaniyah sada harih
[“Thinking oneself to be even lower and more worthless than insignificant grass that is trampled beneath everyone’s feet, being more tolerant than a tree, being prideless, and offering respect to all others according to their respective positions, one should continuously chant the holy name of Sri Hari.”]
This is the meaning of “sweeping the heart,” and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted this. At this stage you will honor even a creeper and a tree, what to speak of devotees. You will see Krsna in everyone and everywhere, and then you will be able to honor
everyone properly. We should try to sweep in our hearts today, on this sacred day of gundica-mandira-marjana.
We should try to understand what are nisiddhacara, prohibited activities. For example, if you are a brahmacari or sannyasi be far away from lust.
asat-sanga-tyaga, – ei vaisnava-acara
‘stri-sangi’ – eka asadhu, ‘krsnabhakta’ ara
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 22.87)
[“A Vaisnava should always avoid the association of ordinary people. Common people are very much materially attached, especially to the opposite sex. Vaisnavas should also avoid the company of those who are not devotees of Lord Krsna.”]
Try to follow this, whether you are a family man or in the renounced order. Do not associate with Mayavadis who do not believe in the personal form of Krsna or Godhead. To such persons, everything is God, which means that everything is zero.
Also, do not associate with those who are lusty – one should remain very far away from such people. Do not tell lies, do not be duplicitous, do not be politicians, and do not be hypocrites. These are basic principles.
Kutinati: ku means “evil,” ti means “the,” na means “no” or “that which is prohibited,” and it means “particular.” Kutinati means activities that are like those of Putana. The word putana means impure, and she was the first demon killed by Krsna; He killed impurity first of all. First be pure by body, mind, and soul, by chanting and remembering, and by always serving Vaisnavas and giving them proper respect.
Jiva-himsana: don’t kill anything, even a creeper. This is also a basic principle. Jiva-himsana means violence, but in this connection violence does not only mean killing by the hands or by a weapon. It also means killing by the tongue, mind, or heart. Do
not be envious. If you want to be pure devotees, remove envy from your hearts and don’t criticize any Vaisnava, for this is also himsa.
These spots will not be removed merely by sweeping, nor will they disappear simply by washing them with water. Rather, they will only become stronger and more prominent. In other words, these spots are not very easy to remove. They manifest as offenses at the lotus feet of Vaisnavas and guru, and also as neglect of guru. Among the ten kinds of nama-aparadha, the first is the offense to pure devotees. The aspiring devotee must remove all these spots quickly, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore took His own outer garment and washed everything – up, down, here, there, and
everywhere. He did not leave even one corner unclean.
Thousands and thousands of devotees continually took water from Indradyumna Sarovara, and placed the water-pots in the hands of Sri Svarupa Damodara, Sri Raya Ramananda, Sri Gadadhara Pandita, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Advaita Acarya, and Sriman Mahaprabhu Himself. Nowadays, those who consider themselves gurus will give orders to others and do nothing themselves. They think that they should only taste delicious maha-prasada and enjoy opulent surroundings; they may even have chairs made of gold. Such false gurus do not remain; rather, they go to hell.
In this way, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was clearing away all unwanted mentalities and behaviors. In the first and second verses of his Upadesamrta, Srila Rupa Gosvami also discusses the unwanted habits to be swept away. Without such sweeping, pure bhakti cannot be attained even in millions of births. In the first verse Rupa Gosvami states:
vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam
etan vegan yo visaheta dhirah
sarvam apimam prthivim sa sisyat
[“A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly, and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.”]
There are six kinds of vegas (urges), and the root is the tongue, which has no backbone. If you cannot control the tongue, all the other five urges will control you; and if you do control it, everything else is controlled. The tongue has two functions, the first of which is speaking. If this function is not controlled, you may say something wrong to another person and that may create a very big problem for you – you may even be ruined forever.
Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, once said something that was actually correct, but the circumstance in which she said it was inappropriate. She told Duryodhana, “Your father is blind, and you are also blind. Like father, like son.” Duryodhana was offended, and as a result the great Mahabharata War was fought and millions of people were killed. Similarly, the Ramayana War was fought only because of Sita’s tongue. She chastised Laksmana, and this ultimately led to a war in which so many were killed. You should therefore try to control your tongue; do not speak what should not be spoken.
The second function of the tongue is eating. If you eat meat fish, and other prohibited items, or if you take drugs, they will also harm you, and you will not be able to control your mind or your heart. On the other hand, everything will be controlled if you take only maha-prasada and chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna....
In the second verse of Upadesamrta, Srila Rupa Gosvami states:
atyaharah prayasas ca
jana-sangas ca laulyam ca
sadbhir bhaktir vinasyati
[“One’s devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required, (2) over-endeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to attain, (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters, (4) practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically, (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are
not interested in Krsna consciousness, and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements.”]
Both Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja have written commentaries on how to be free from these habits, and we can clean our hearts by reading these commentaries. It is stated in Srila Swami Maharaja’s purport (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 12.135):
[“Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explains that even though one may become free from the desire for fruitive activity, sometimes the subtle desire for fruitive activity again comes into being within the heart. One often thinks of conducting business to improve devotional activity. However, the contamination is so strong that it may later develop into misunderstanding, described as kutinati (faultfinding) and pratisthasa (the desire for name and fame and for high position), jiva-himsa (envy of other living entities), nisiddhacara (accepting things forbidden in the çastra), kama (desire for material gain), and puja (hankering for popularity).The word kutinati means “duplicity.” As an example of pratisthasa, one may attempt to imitate Srila Haridasa Thakura by living in a solitary place.”]
Some Western devotees once went to Puri. They were not allowed to take darsana of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra in the temple, but they were able to go to the Tota Gopinatha Temple, Srila Haridasa Thakura’s samadhi, and Siddha-bakula. One of those devotees gave over a thousand dollars to an Indian pujari at Siddha-bakula and said, “Give me the mala kept here, the beads on which Haridasa Thakura was chanting.” The man took the thousand dollars, stole the mala, and gave it to that “devotee” who then thought, “Oh, when I chant on this mala, I will be liberated and I will have bhakti.”
Imitation will not do, however. That person was offensive. Nowadays many people want to have large mala weighing not less than five kilos. They cannot chant properly, but still they collect big tulasi neckbeads with “Radhe, Radhe” written on them. This will not do; rather, false ego will increase by this. Try to chant and remember purely, and associate with devotees. It is stated in the same purport:
One’s real desire may be for name and fame. In other words, one thinks that fools will accept one to be as good as Haridasa Thakura just because one lives in a holy place. These are all material desires. A neophyte devotee is certain to be attacked by other material desires as well, namely desires for women and money. In this way the heart is again filled with dirty things and becomes harder and harder, like that of a materialist. Gradually one desires to become a reputed devotee or an avatara (incarnation). Nowadays there are so many “incarnations” like this. They have no belief in God, but they want to be guru, and after some days they fall down. This disease of false gurus and gods is spreading like the plague, and now there are so many “gods,” both in India and the West. We have been duplicitous since our birth; but now we must become very simple, and we should always honor devotees.
Also, be free from lobha, the greed for worldly things. Be free from thinking, “I must have this thing,” or “My relatives and neighbors have very good cars, but I don’t.” Be simple like Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, who followed the instructions given to him by Caitanya Mahaprabhu:
gramya-katha na çunibe, gramya-varta na kahibe
bhala na khaibe ara bhala na paribe
amani manada haïa krsna-nama sada la’be
vraje radha-krsna-seva manase karibe
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 6.236–7)
[“Do not talk like people in general or hear what they say. You should not eat very palatable food, nor should you dress very nicely. Do not expect honor, but offer all respect to others. Always chant the holy name of Lord Krsna, and within your mind render service to Radha and Krsna in Vrndavana.”]
Follow Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Srila Jiva Gosvami, and others like them. Be simple like Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates. Mahaprabhu personally removed all the spots from the simhasana on which Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra would sit – He did not leave it to anyone else to do. This means that we should try to make our hearts like a simhasana where Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra will sit, where Radha and Krsna will sit, and where Mahaprabhu will sit. This opportunity will not come if there are dirty thoughts and aspirations in our hearts. They will never come. Take your ears in your hands [This is an Indian expression. In India when one is expressing regret due to a sense of guilt, he holds his earlobes as he apologizes.] and promise, “From today I will practice properly.” Krsna will provide for you if you are always chanting and remembering. He will look after you, and sometimes He may come to you as a servant, bringing paraphernalia for you on His head. There are many examples as evidence of this, so do not worry about how to maintain yourselves. The only problem should be how to purify yourselves, and how to attain love and affection for Krsna.
While Caitanya Mahaprabhu was cleaning, a very young Gaudiya bhakta took a pitcher of water, poured the water on Mahaprabhu’s feet, and drank some of it. Mahaprabhu then appeared very angry and said, “What are you doing? Nonsense! Jagannatha is coming here. Jagannatha is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, and we are cleaning here, preparing for Him to come. I am an ordinary person, a man, and yet this person is washing My feet and taking that water to drink. This offense is very bad for Me, and for him.”
If you wash the feet of an ordinary person in Krsna’s temple, it is a very big offense. Of course, Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Jagannatha Himself, but He is giving instruction to others. A bona fide guru will never proudly think, “Very good! My disciple comes and places flowers on my feet, pours water on them, washes them, sprinkles that water on others, and then drinks it.” A pure Vaisnava or guru never considers, “I am an advanced devotee.” Even Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in the mood of Srimati Radhika, has said:
na prema-gandho ’sti darapi me harau
krandami saubhagya-bharam prakasitum
bibharmi yat prana-patangakan vrtha
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 2.45)
[“My dear friends, I have not the slightest tinge of love of Godhead within My heart. When you see Me crying in separation, I am just falsely exhibiting a demonstration of My great fortune. Indeed, not seeing the beautiful face of Krsna playing His flute, I continue to live My life like an insect, without purpose.”]
“I have not even a scent of bhakti to Krsna. I am more wretched than anyone.” Radhika Herself is saying, “Oh, the forest deer are superior to me. They can go near to Krsna and beg His love and affection as a beloved, but we cannot go there. The rivers are also so much more fortunate than us gopis. Krsna goes to the Yamuna to bathe and she can embrace Krsna; she can give Him a lotus flower from her hand-like waves. She can give her whole heart to Krsna and tell Him, ‘O my beloved.’ When Krsna plays on His flute, she becomes stunned and stops flowing. She is much greater than us, for we cannot do as she does.
“And what is the condition of the calves and cows? The cows are grazing, but when they hear the sweet sound of Krsna’s flute, they raise their ears to hear and to drink in the sweet nectar of that flute. Their calves also drink the nectar of Krsna’s flute through their ears. While they drink the milk from their mothers’ udders, they hear the flute, and at that time they forget the milk altogether; they neither swallow it nor spit it out, and it simply remains in their mouths. Oh, we are not like this.”
Mahaprabhu similarly laments, “The fish are superior to me. If they are taken from water, they will die at once; but I am not dying although I have no darsana of Krsna. How wretched I am!”
Nowadays many devotees think, “Gurudeva simply gave us chanting beads, and by this we became more than God and we began to control the whole world.” The next day, however, we see that nothing is there – no tulasi beads, no chanting beads; nothing. And now they have again become mice. [*See Endnote 1]
Mahaprabhu performed this pastime in order to teach us devotional principles, so He called Svarupa Damodara and told him, “Svarupa Damodara Prabhu! Just see the behavior of your Gaudiya bhakta. He is insulting Me in front of Thakuraji. You have not instructed him how to be a pure devotee. See how he is behaving! He is in the temple of Jagannatha, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and although I am an ordinary person, he is pouring water on My feet and drinking it. This is very offensive to Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra, and I am very upset about this.”
Svarupa Damodara then slapped the young devotee and dragged him outside – as a gesture. Actually, he was very happy with him. Outside the temple, when he was beyond Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s view, he told that devotee, “You have done very well. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Jagannatha Himself, but He wants to teach others that we should not behave like this towards ordinary persons. You have not done anything wrong. You have done the right thing. Wait here, and I will call for you again.”
Then, when he was called, that Bengali devotee told Mahaprabhu, “I have done wrong.” He begged for forgiveness, and Mahaprabhu forgot the matter.
No one should tell anyone else to worship him. One should not love anyone or weep for anyone in front of the deity. You can only do pranama to your pure gurudeva, not to anyone else. Wherever the deities are present, we should not try to control anyone; that will be an offense. We can learn all the rules and regulations of deity worship by reading the book Arcana-dipika.
Nowadays, gurus are coming like kan-gurus. All are gurus but none are gurus. They are everywhere, like the germs of a plague. They are cheaters, not gurus. They are not Bhagavan. In India you can very easily find so many “Gods,” so many “Supreme Personalities of Godheads.” One thinks that he is Sankara, another thinks that he is Ganesa, and someone else thinks he is Sarasvati. Caitanya Mahaprabhu knew this day would come.
Try to enter the real process of bhakti. Hear from the proper person, take his words into your heart and try to follow him. Then you can sweep your heart and also become a pure devotee. First you will enter the stage of kanistha-adhikara, then madhyama-adhikara, and then you will be a devotee. Otherwise, you are like a shadow devotee – fallen. Krsna has given you good intelligence. You should realize whether someone is a pure devotee or not, and if he is, then you can hear from him. A sadhu is a very elevated devotee who embodies the verse:
[“The cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Sri Krsna, or in other words the uninterrupted flow of service to Sri Krsna, performed through all endeavors of the body, mind, and speech, and through the expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhavas), which is not covered by jnana (knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation) and karma (reward-seeking activity) and which is devoid of all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Sri Krsna, is called uttama-bhakti, pure devotional service.”]
Such a sadhu or guru has no worldly desires. His devotion is always like a stream of sweet honey, which flows like an unbroken current when it is poured.
Similarly, you should see whether your own activities – by body, by words, by mind, and by heart or mood – are to please Krsna or not. Suppose you are taking maha prasada. Why are you taking it? Is it to please Krsna or not? If you are not taking it to please Krsna, then it is like karma. If you go to sleep for yourself, it is karma, not bhakti. However, if you go to sleep thinking, “I will take some rest, and from early morning I will serve Krsna. I will be always chanting, remembering, worshiping, and
serving here and there,” then even your sleeping is for Krsna.
yat karosi yad asnasi
yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kurusva mad-arpanam
[“Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform – do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me.”]
After some time, whatever you do will be to please Krsna and your pure gurudeva. If someone follows this principle and always acts to please Krsna, you can accept him as your guru; otherwise don’t. If, when you were ignorant, you selected as guru someone who does not perform all his activities to please Krsna, Guru, and Vaisnavas, then reject that person. Reject him totally. Choose another guru very carefully and take initiation; otherwise you cannot have pure devotion and love for Krsna.
If you were initiated by a guru who was sincere at one time, but who fell down later on, reject him at once. Then you may enter the proper line and accept the self-realized devotees who are actually following anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmadyanavrtam anukulyena krsnanusilanam. Whatever they do, they do to please Krsna, Guru, and Vaisnavas. They will be in the line of Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. If a person professing to be a guru is not actually in that line, he should be rejected at once. Bali Maharaja rejected his gurudeva, Sukracarya. Bharata Maharaja rejected his mother, Prahlada Maharaja rejected his father, the gopis rejected their husbands, and Vibhisana rejected his brother Ravana. There are abundant examples of this.
If the guru is chanting and is somewhat in this line but he cannot give you prema-bhakti, then request him, “Please permit me to associate with a self-realized devotee.” If he does not give permission for you to do so, he is not a pure Vaisnava and he also should be rejected. However, if he gives the order, “You should go, and I will also go,” then he is a Vaisnava. You should respect him, and also go to take the association of that high-class devotee. This is the proper process, and it was followed by Sri Syamananda Gosvami, Sri Narottama dasa Thakura, Sri Srinivasa Acarya, Srila Haridasa Thakura, and so many others. If you follow sastra and your superiors, you will come to the stage of madhyama-adhikara. This is actually the meaning of gundica-mandira-marjana.
It is better to honor real Vaisnavas than to only worship the deities. Worship the deity, but serve the Vaisnavas at the same time. Gradually try to come from the stage of kanistha to the stage of madhyama. We are entering kanistha, but we are not even kanistha yet, because we do not have full faith in the deity. When we realize siddhanta, the established truths of Vaisnava philosophy, in the association of pure Vaisnavas, we will gradually become madhyama-adhikari. This is the object of today’s function. By this, the seed of the bhakti-creeper that your gurudeva has given to you will sprout, and it will then develop into the shape of a creeper that will ultimately lead you to Goloka Vrndavana. This is the real process.
When all the spots are removed, your status will be of the nature of pure devotion. Whatever we do, we should do as a service to Krsna, for His pleasure, but this is not sufficient by itself. There should be no worldly desire at all in that service. If one takes initiation from a bona fide guru, and he is chanting, remembering, and reading books, but he thinks, “I want to be wealthy, I want to have a very well-qualified son, and a very beautiful home and wife,” his bhakti will not be pure. Rather, it will be completely ruined. Even the desire for liberation is not pure bhakti. It is bhakti, but not pure uttama-bhakti. It is called aropa-siddha-bhakti, or sometimes sanga-siddha bhakti. His bhakti will be mixed with karma, jnana, yoga, or anything else.
More than ninety-five percent of those who call themselves bhaktas don’t actually follow uttama-bhakti or pure bhakti. They follow only aropa-siddha-bhakti and sanga-siddha-bhakti. What is aropa-siddha-bhakti? Making a garden or establishing gurukulas and goçalas is not really bhakti, but it may create impressions (samskaras) in the heart if the fruits are given to Krsna. If there is a gurukula, there is an opportunity that the boys will be given impressions from childhood for later development in bhakti. We see, however, that the students very rarely get these impressions. Many are ruined and are without character, they do not obey their fathers and mothers, they are not humble, and they do not honor devotees. Many are desperate. If that impression of bhakti had come, it would have been very good for them. It is only to give this impression that high-class devotees or gurus establish such institutions.
If we make a garden, we can take the fruits to the deities and to pure devotees, but if the fruit is not given to them, the result will be very bad. Actual bhakti is that activity in which there is chanting and remembering only to please Krsna. In the past, many devotees collected vast wealth for their temples. They collected vast amounts of money in a few days, but what became of them? They left Krsna consciousness. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja wanted them to become qualified devotees.
It is not sufficient merely to sweep, or merely to wash off all the varieties of unwanted habits such as aparadhas. Something affirmative should be there – a strong taste for harinama and for hearing hari-katha. It is not enough just to clean your heart.
What will remain if you simply do that? Nothing. There should be something positive. There is no harm if you have no taste for chanting harinama, but you should have a taste for hearing harikatha. If you do not, then hear again and again, and give proper
respect to the pure devotees from whom you are hearing.
satam prasangan mama virya-samvido
bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah
taj-josanad asv apavarga-vartmani
sraddha ratir bhaktir anukramisyati
[“In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin.”]
The speaker should be satam, a pure devotee. Do not maintain your own false idea that an ordinary person or devotee is a maha-bhagavata. Who has the qualification to realize who is a maha-bhagavata? Srila Vamsi dasa Babaji Maharaja, a disciple of Srila Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, was an exalted uttamamaha-bhagavata, but he used to pretend he was smoking marijuana. He sometimes put dry fish bones here and there around his hut so people would think that he ate fish. He considered, “Those who are materially inclined should remain far away from me so I can be alone to chant Krsna’s name and remember Him.”
Srila Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja was on friendly terms with Srila Vamsi dasa Babaji Maharaja, and Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura honored him so much. Our Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja, used to take his darçana, and at that time Babaji Maharaja gave him many deep teachings. Guru Maharaja told us, “Sometimes he spoke such high philosophy that I could not understand him.” If a devotee is ignorant and not even a kanistha Vaisnava, how can he know who is actually a maha-bhagavata? He will choose an unqualified person as a “maha-bhagavata,” and the next day he will see how that person has fallen down.
You should see what is your superior’s idea regarding who is a madhyama-adhikari or who is an uttama-adhikari, and you can also realize this if you follow Krsna consciousness and establish yourself on the platform of the advanced stage of madhyama-adhikara. It is an offense at the lotus feet of the real maha-bhagavata if you do not give him proper respect, and instead give great respect to a third-class, bogus person, calling him “maha-bhagavata.”
[Endnotes 1: There is an instructive story called “Punar Musika Bhava – Again Become a Mouse.” A mouse was very much harassed by a cat, and therefore he approached a saintly person to request to become a cat. When the mouse became a cat, he was harassed by a dog, and then, being blessed by the sadhu, when he became a dog, he was harassed by a tiger. When by the grace of the saint he became a tiger, he stared at the saintly person, who then asked him, “What do you want?” The tiger replied, “I want to eat you.” Then the saintly person cursed him, saying, “May you again become a mouse.”]