Question: Can you explain further of what you mentioned recently, that in the devotee’s quest to become pure he must go through numerous situations where he is accepting something higher and rejecting something lower; eliminating the lower conception and accepting the higher conception?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Those are different stages of that misunderstanding, different strata. Sadhana means progress which means eliminating something and inviting something higher. In this way the process is there and that may be quick in a certain case and slow in another. It may be slow or rapid but we are to pass through different stages according to the intensity of illusion.
Question: What is the determining factor as to whether we pass through such a stage slowly or quickly?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: That will depend upon the sukriti and the sat-sanga. There will be some conscious help and some previous underground help. Ajnata-sukrti is when unconsciously unknown benefit has come to me. Whereas jnata-sukrti is when consciously some benefit comes through the association of the sadhu, the saint. And that sadhu also may be of different types.
Question: I don’t understand. The sadhu may be of different types?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: There are different types of sadhus. We have freedom of cooperation and association with a particular section and the outcome of that depends also on the quality of whom we associate with.
Question: So spiritual life is one where we are accepting a new concept and eliminating old concepts?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: There is classification of misconception; Bhur, Bhuvah, Svar, Maha, Jana, Tapa and Satya. There is so much gradation within the plane of misconception. And within that there are so many subdivisions such as insects, trees, animals etc. But at the same time we shall think that a tree might have advanced in the nirguna whereas a man might not. Misconception may be so hopelessly peculiar in a man that it will take time to cure him. At the same time, the mental system of a tree or an animal may be more advanced towards service, though its present situation is very lamentable.
Question: Does the acceptance and elimination of concepts include sadhu-sanga, that we accept and eliminate there also?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Yes. In sadhu-sanga there are so many considerations: the type of sadhu, the cooperating tendency, also the backing of previous sukrti. There are many things to be taken into calculation.
adhistanam tata darta, karanam ca prtag-vidham, vividhas ca prtak cesta, daivam caivatra pancaman(Bg. 18.14)
With the help of these five factors, all actions are effected: “The body, ego (in the form of the knot of spirit and matter), the separate senses, the different endeavors, and destiny, or the intervention of the Supreme Universal Controller.” It is not that just one incident is the cause but there are so many circumstantial things coming together that cause a particular event. Any event is the combination of many things: his free-will, his previous background, his present association, his nature: all these things have got their contribution for his progress. Circumstance can contribute much. It is not limited only to the free-will of the man who wants progress.
(more lectures by Swami B.R. Sridhara are available at www.bvml.org)