Śrīla Narottama Ṭhākura then describes niṣkapaṭabhajana.

“O Prabhu! I have committed many offenses life after life. I don’t have a clean heart. I cannot do pure bhajana. I don’t have any strength of my own. The association near me is always trying to steal me away. But I am Your’s Prabhu! You are my beloved. I am fallen! Please take me and keep me close to Your lotus feet. I have no desire to return to māyā!” This should be our prayer.

Once, a devotee came to the āśrama and became a brahmacārī. After some time, he went to a park and saw a couple of lovers embracing and kissing each other.

The brahmacārī thought, “I am dry. I have no friends. Nobody talks with me. Nobody comes near me. Please God! Give me one friend! Then my life will be successful.”

The conditioned souls are very weak and hungry. Also, they have many unsatiated desires. Although they pray to Him, they often revert to their erring, misleading natures. They will jump into the well of māyā again and again. People are always looking to engage in enjoyment despite having a diseased body. You will have to leave the body. Still, the conditioned souls are so attached to their bodies.

‘eka’ kṛṣṇa-nāme kare sarva-pāpa nāśa

premera kāraṇa bhakti karena prakāśa

Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 8.26

Simply chanting kṛṣṇanāma once destroys all sins. It brings about bhakti that awakens prema.

premera udaye haya premera vikāra

sveda-kampa-pulakādi gadgadāśrudhāra

Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 8.27

When prema awakens, it generates transformations that manifest in the body such as perspiration, trembling, hairs standing on end, choking of the voice, and tears in the eyes.

anāyāse bhava-kṣaya, kṛṣṇera sevana

eka kṛṣṇa-nāmera phale pāi eta dhana

Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 8.28

The fruit of simply chanting kṛṣṇa-nāma just once is that one’s material existence is easily terminated and he receives the wealth of service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

hena kṛṣṇa-nāma yadi laya bahu-bāra

tabu yadi prema nahe, nahe aśrudhāra

tabe jāni, aparādha tāhāte pracura

kṛṣṇa-nāma-bīja tāhe nā kare aṅkura

Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 8.29-30

If one chants kṛṣṇa-nāma again and again and yet prema does not develop and tears do not fall from the eyes, then know that this is because of so many offenses and thus the seed of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa does not sprout.

By chanting Kṛṣṇa’s name just once, all your sins, anarthas, and offenses will be destroyed. And then, the sādhaka will be admitted into the realm of prema-bhakti. The sādhaka will then be ornamented with the different symptoms of ecstasy. Crossing māyā, the desire for kṛṣṇa-sevā will completely blossom in his heart. Kṛṣṇa’s name bestows many fruits. Although you have been chanting Kṛṣṇa’s names for a long time, your heart doesn’t melt and tears don’t appear. This is because of offenses. Your love is lost because you have shared it with many others. You cannot use your love for God. In this world only ‘mortgage love’ is found.

Like, Kardama Ṛṣi told Devahūti, “I will leave as soon as a son is born. I will stay with you only until our son is born.”

Many people think, “The śāstras have stated that a person should be in family life from the age of twenty-five to fifty. So, I will loan myself to one person.”

A person says, “If your father gives ten million rupees, I will become your slave.”

This is called kāmatimiṅgila. These giant timiṅgila are always ready to swallow everyone afflicted by lust.

Paḍinā asat-bhole kāma-timiṅgile gile, e nātha kara paritrāṇa. A sādhaka should say, “O Prabhu! O Kṛṣṇa! This lust is very powerful. Please protect me!”

If you sow and water a seed regularly, it will sprout and grow into a nice plant. Similarly, you should endeavor again and again to progress in the realm of bhajana.

You should think, “I will go near Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. They will always protect and water the seed of devotion with śravaṇakīrtana. The creeper of devotion will always flourish under their care. I will have good moods. The creeper of devotion will bear many tasteful fruits and fragrant flowers. I will then have no more problems. But, the seed of this creeper will not sprout if it is placed on a rock. So, I should not make my heart into a stone.”

Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādilīlā 8.31) that:

caitanya-nityānande nāhi e-saba vicāra

nāma laite prema dena, vahe aśrudhāra

But in chanting the holy names of Lord Caitanya and Nityānanda all these considerations like offences are not there. By taking their names they will give you prema and tears will fall from the eyes.

The holy names of Śrī Caitanya and Nityānanda don’t consider any offenses. Prema will come when you just chant and pray to Their names. Śrīman Nityānanda Prabhu and Caitanya Mahāprabhu gave prema to many offenders, atheists, and everyone else. Those who committed offenses at the lotus feet of Mahāprabhu, Nityānanda Prabhu, Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura, and their associates were also given prema. Śacī Mātā had apparently committed an offense at the lotus feet of Advaita Ācārya.

Therefore, Mahāprabhu told Śacī Mātā, “I will give you prema if you ask for forgiveness from Advaita Ācārya.”

Mahāprabhu, and Nityānanda Prabhu are always thinking about giving the wealth of prema to everyone. But Mahāprabhu didn’t give prema to Śacī Mātā and Devānanda Paṇḍita. Mahāprabhu will not give prema to those who have committed offenses. The conditioned souls have committed offenses since millions of births. Nityānanda Prabhu and Mahāprabhu will check to see if the conditioned souls are humbly praying and crying to be forgiven for their innumerable offenses. Then it is possible for them to also attain prema.

Guru and Vaiṣṇavas understand the inner intentions and behavior of the conditioned souls. They know everything. A terrible disease will result by mahataparādha. As a consequence, the offender will become inimical and his heart will become dry. And, he will no longer serve Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. He will distance himself from service and soon after, he will make a relationship with māyā. Guru and Vaiṣṇavas shower their mercy and forgive the offenders. But, the offenders continue to commit offenses and go far, far away from Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. They will then make a big border and restrict themselves from going near Guru and Vaiṣṇavas.

Guru and Vaiṣṇavas never consider a person’s qualification. On seeing a person seeking shelter, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas take that person on their lap and say, “I will clean you and give you all facilities to engage in hari-bhajana.

But the conditioned souls are lost. They have lost everything. This is because of their independent nature. If the fortunate souls are serious and don’t choose to lose themselves—then they will always be with Guru and Vaiṣṇavas; they will always be protected. But, if they also neglect Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, then many offenses will be committed.

The first fruit of an offense is disease and many forms of sickness. And then, weakness, followed by fear will come. The person who has committed offenses will then distance himself and say, “How can I go near Guru and Vaiṣṇavas? I am not qualified; I am not able to. It is not good for me to go near them. It is much better to distance myself from them. I will no longer go near them.”

Then how can the person ever be helped? If one chants harināma but is actually crooked or a cheater, and has not cut off his relation with māyā, his body and followers, and does not offer respect to his Guru-varga while he externally shows to everyone that he is a big sādhu because of his desire for respect from all others, then such a person can never achieve bhakti.

For example, a king told his son, “Dear son, respect your father and forefathers.”

The son said, “Yes father, I will respect you as you respected your own father.”

He was a prince during their rule of India. His father had put his own father in prison and had only given him a handful of chickpeas to eat. He gave him one cup of water and a handful of chickpeas. They were four brothers. The brothers killed each other, and the surviving prince took the post of king and imprisoned his father. Is this called proper respect of one’s father?

Now, we are all near the Guru-varga and have received everything from them. But if we have no respect or don’t offer them our respectful obeisances, and we only think about our own respect and followers, then what will be the result? If the father has respect and love only for his own children, then he will go down. If one only likes his followers and disciples, then his disciples will also only like their own disciples. Why would they respect their guru? But if one follows his Guru-varga, then his disciples will follow their Guru-varga, and the flow of mercy will come. If guru looks down, and is only paying attention to his own followers, then no blessings will come from the Guru-varga. The disciples will only possess the fruits of their bad activities because of being inclined towards their wicked moods. Then their bad activities come to me. Then I am not called a guru, I am a goru, a cow.

When anyone first comes to the āśrama, the Guru-varga teach, “Pray to my Guru Mahārāja, this is proper respect. Then I will be happy. Respect my Guru Mahārāja and the Guru-paramparā.”

Now, if devotees do not teach to respect the Vaiṣṇavas, Śrīla Gurudeva, Param Gurudeva, and the Guru-paramparā, then where are they? Who are they? This is very opposed to the line of bhakti. One will go into a new line and flow, from Gaṅgā, one will go into a drain. When all the drains, Gaṅgā, and everything is mixed, it becomes like the ocean. The ocean water is not useful. When the sun filters the water, evaporating it, and putting it in the clouds, and then showers it down as rain in the proper time, then that water is useful and helpful for all. When will all our love and affection be for the Guru-varga? If our love and affection comes down, like rainwater mixing in the world, then it becomes muddy and dirty. It mixes with drain water and then flows with the river to the ocean and everything is useless. Everyone’s love and affection should go up to the Guru-varga. Every day, at every moment, offer them your respectful obeisances. One who does not do so is not a disciple. If one breaks discipline, he is not a disciple. Therefore the living entities are bound in māyā. Māyā catches the disciples who do not respect Śrī Guru, God, and His family.

He who is attached to his own blood relations or followers is contaminated. This is called anarthas, offense, sins, and false ego. All of this throws one down into the drain of material existence. Day and night who do we serve? Who do we have relationship with? Who do we use all our income for? Who is our blood and energy spent for? All this should be considered. Otherwise we are great cheaters and hypocrites. Who will give judgment? Yamarāja and his soldiers will punish us. Māyā-devī’s popular family members will give judgment and the fruit will come, making one realize how honest he is. Outwardly one may perform arcana, pūjā, and offer respect to everyone, but this is not real bhakti.

People stay in the holy dhāma just like many crocodiles, fish, and other species live in the water, but do not really live in the Gaṅgā. Similarly, such people are with their families, children, and homes. If one stays in the dhāma, but does business for his own sense enjoyment and collects all things for his own sense gratification, then that person cannot receive any spiritual treatment. It is very difficult to help such a person. This disease is very strange. Such a person becomes like a brahma-rakṣasa.

Once, a dog came to Śrī Rāmacandra crying for help. In his own language he complained to Rāmacandra, “You are the king, You give good judgment to all. I surrender to You. I am an orphan animal, please help me.”

Śrī Rāmacandra said, “Yes, I will try to help you. What is the difficulty? By your karma you received the body of a dog, but please tell Me what is wrong and I will help. “

The dog said, “I was lying on one side of a street and a Paṇḍita came by and beat me. He broke one of my legs. Now I cannot walk easily. I am suffering so much without any treatment. What can I do?”

Rāmacandra said, “Call the brāhmaṇa.” Rāmacandra never gave any judgment or punishment to the brāhmaṇas. He always respected them and followed this etiquette. If any judgement was necessary, He called his guru, Vaśiṣṭha. Vaśiṣṭha came and Rāma told Him, “Ask the Paṇḍita why he broke the leg of the dog.”

Vaśiṣṭha asked and the Paṇḍita replied, “The dog was lying in the middle of the road and did not give me any respect or go to the side so that I could cross easily.”

The dog said, “The road is very large, I was only sleeping on one side, without barking or doing anything, why did he beat me?”

Vaśiṣṭha asked, “What punishment do you want to give him?”

The dog said, “Give him the position of being the mahānta of the large and famous Kalinjara temple.”

The Paṇḍita began to dance in great joy thinking a great boon had come for him.

Rāmacandra asked the dog, “Why do you want him to have this post?”

The dog said, “I gave him this post because then he will not serve. He will be very greedy to enjoy. He will not serve God and he will be greedy to enjoy all the property that is offered to God. In my last life I was the ācārya of this Kalinjara temple and I stole everything. Now my tongue is always hanging outside and saliva is dropping from it. I was always greedy to eat the offerings for the Lord, and I would steal things before they were offered in the temple. Therefore I got this body as a dog. When the brāhmaṇa becomes a dog, he will understand his faulty nature.”

People come to the temple, to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, the holy dhāma, Gaṅgā, Godāvarī, and the holy tīrthas, but they are very greedy for mundane things. They want name, fame, and they give announcements and want everyone to be in their group and to respect them. And if others don’t offer their respect, they are tormented. They have no love for God and God’s family; they only desire their own respect, name and fame. Will punishment come or not? Where am I?I am not really nearby God and the holy dhāma. Large fish live in the Gaṅgā. In the same way these people stay in the dhāma but can get no treatment. How can Guru, Vaiṣṇavas, and harināma help them? They fly in the sky like eagles but look down for dead bodies. Their attachment is with their own sense recreation. Then how can they cross māyā? They do not follow or give respect to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. Their pride cheats them of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas’ blessings. How will their anarthas dissipate? People say, “Don’t go to any other Vaiṣṇavas, no one else is a Vaiṣṇava. Only hear from me. My group and disciples are Vaiṣṇavas, other guru’s disciples are not Vaiṣṇavas.”

This is not the nature and etiquette of bhakti and bhajana. Vaiṣṇavism means that one must offer himself to the Guru-varga, and any service, inspiration or instruction the Guru-varga give must be followed. One must continuously serve Śrīla Gurudeva.

Śrīla Gurudeva teaches the glory of the Guru-varga, God and the Vaiṣṇavas. If one really respects and has love for the Vaiṣṇavas, God and the holy dhāma, then such a person is a Vaiṣṇava.

Our ācāryas say that one who wears tilaka and neckbeads, and has a big śikhā showing everyone, ‘I am a great Vaiṣṇava and all should serve and follow me,’ is not a Vaiṣṇava in reality. Is one tṛṇād-api sunīcena or not? Mahat-saṅga helps everyone, but crooked cheaters are not mahat, and they are not honest. By going to a great personality one will automatically become cleansed. If one becomes impure at heart, has no desire for harināma and no tendency for service, then one should understand he is fallen and in bad association.

When one repents, knowing his own fallen position, and surrenders to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, then they directly show one his own condition, like taking a picture of one’s own heart and showing how fallen, impure, and full of anarthas one is. Guru and Vaiṣṇavas show this and when people understand their own condition, they will repent at heart and pray deeply. When they cry sincerely, then Gurudeva bestows his mercy and purifies the heart.

When the disciple prays, “You are my eternal master, but I am cheated by māyā and have so much attachment and relation to objects of māyā. O master, please help me! I am attached to my body and mind and have no greed for bhajana or service. I only show everyone, but really have no desire. I am fallen and arrested in māyā and do not even want to cross this. I am such a fallen soul.”

“I am truly very fallen,” this realization comes. When one has this feeling of repent and lamentation, then he can truly attain good fortune because he will become a recipient of God’s mercy, and the mercy of the holy dhāma and Vaiṣṇavas. Their mercy will start to manifest.

Srila Narottama das Thakur ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Sri Prema-Bhakti Candrika”.  Available from: [email protected] )

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