[Excerpt from Srila Gurudeva: Around the World, U.K. 1996 (Radlett, 23 May), the second book in a series of volumes on Srila Gurudeva’s world preaching tours.]
Prabhupada always advised caution and care in discussing Radha-Krsna Rasa-lila. This was to combat taking them cheaply. Apparently, you discuss these pastimes more openly than Prabhupada did. I always understood that Lord Caitanya only discussed these pastimes with three and a half associates who were elevated devotees. This confuses me as many of us are still quite entangled in the modes of material nature. So, when does one become qualified to hear these pastimes?
[Srila Gurudeva to the devotee who asked the question]
Have you attended my classes here?
Srila Gurudeva: Then what have I spoken about rasa?
Devotee: You haven’t Maharaja.
Srila Gurudeva: Have you heard me speak about rasa in any way?
Devotee: One young devotee…
Srila Gurudeva: I don’t want to talk about anyone else. I only wish to know if you have heard me speak rasa-katha in my classes.
Devotee: I haven’t Maharaja.
Srila Gurudeva: You may call on any member of my travelling group and ask them if I have spoken about rasa. They have travelled with me to many places; we just came from Holland after staying there for ten days. These devotees who are making this false propaganda are only trying to tarnish my preaching services. It is very stupid of them to speak in such a manner. You can quote any word that will prove me otherwise. I tell what Prabhupada has said.
He said, “Our goal should be Vraja-prema.”
aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas-tad-dhama vrndavanam
ramya kacid-upasana vraja-vadhu vargena ya kalpita
srimad-bhagavatam pramanam amalam prema pumartho mahan
sri caitanya mahaprabhor matam idam tatradaro nah parah
Among all the kinds of services rendered to Krsna, the service of the gopis is the highest. If we don’t glorify the service of the Gopis, we are not bona fide devotees. We must speak on their glories. But have I spoken of the intimate pastimes between Krsna and the Gopis? But, I know that books like Govinda Lilamrta, Krsna Bhavanamrta, Vilapa Kusumanjali, and other books of Svamiji, which are under lock and key have been published and handed to each devotee. Who did these silly things? They should be questioned. I have never spoken of the pastimes within these books in my classes. But I do say that the prema of the Gopis is the highest. And Svamiji has also stated this fact everywhere in his books. Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Svamiji, our Gurudeva, and our disciplic order have always glorified the Gopis. Glorifying the Gopis doesn’t require any qualification; one only needs to have shraddha, faith. Among the five kinds of the servants of Krsna, the Gopis are His associates possessing the highest love and affection. Can we not glorify the Gopis in this manner? Can this not be told? Why not? What is the objective of our sadhana-bhakti? Can it not be said that Gopi-prema is the objective of our sadhana-bhakti? What is the harm in glorifying the Gopis? One doesn’t need to be qualified to glorify the Gopis; the only quality needed is shraddha.
In my previous classes, I spoke on how Krsna stole butter and Yasoda Mata bound Him to the grinding mortar as a means of punishing Him. There is much siddhanta to be told from two angles. When Yasoda tried to bind Krsna, she saw that the length of the rope was two fingers short. Despite her many attempts to bind Krsna, the length of the rope was always short. Why was the rope two fingers short? Why not three or four fingers short? Can we not explain the reason to devotees and those who have faith? Can we not tell them these reasons?
I live in Mathura-Vrndavana. The devotees there are of a very high grade. If I tell any of the boys who are with me to speak, they will explain the siddhanta more clearly than any of the ISKCON leaders. I know this fact. If you have a chance to hear from them, then you should surely hear them. You will realize how beautifully they speak. ISKCON leaders will not be able to explain like them. They will only say, “Oh give this up; give that up.”
The boys will speak on many special features of devotion. We will not limit ourselves in only stating the negative; we will also speak on the positive aspects of detachment and devotion. We will speak on bhakti, nista, and the progressive stages of devotion. We will help the sadhaka’s devotion blossom from the stage of shraddha to nista; and from nista to ruci, asakti, and bhava, culminating in prema-bhakti. Thus, by always speaking harikatha, the listeners’ minds will not be uncontrolled and be prone to be led to others. This is the difference between the present ISKCON devotees and the devotees in the line of our Gaudiya dhara and Svamiji’s dhara. Svamiji Maharaja wanted to do this, but the people of the West were affected so much by the impersonalist, voidist, and nihilistic philosophies. Therefore, he spent much time cutting through these jungles of erroneous philosophies, so that the seeds of devotion could be sown on fertile land. Your devotion is not the same as it was during the beginning, which was fifteen, twenty, or forty years back. Now your devotion has increased. You have an idea of the many siddhantas.
I don’t need to tell you, “Give up wine, women, and wealth.” I know that you are following all these rules. So, why should I waste my time by telling you to follow these rules and regulations? I will speak on the positive aspects, which will help you advance in your devotion. This is the ideal of Svamiji’s line. In India and in Vraja especially, there is no need to say, “Don’t take eggs and meat.” They don’t eat eggs and meat, so why should I tell them?
So, this is the difference; but there is no difference at all.
Devotee: Maharajaji, can I read purport of Prabhupada’s?
Srila Gurudeva: Yes.
Devotee: Many devotees say that we shouldn’t read anything other than Prabhupada’s books and he has given a nice quote here in this connection. The excerpt of this purport is from the Caitanya Caritamrita, Adi-lila 2.117:
siddhanta baliya citte na kara alasa
iha ha-ite krsne lage sudrdha manasa
False devotees, lacking the conclusion of transcendental knowledge, think that artificially shedding tears will deliver them. Similarly, other false devotees think that studying books of the previous acaryas is unadvisable, like studying dry empiric philosophies. But Srila Jiva Gosvami, following the previous acaryas, has inculcated the conclusions of the scriptures in the six theses called the Sat-sandarbhas. False devotees who have very little knowledge of such conclusions fail to achieve pure devotion for want of zeal in accepting the favorable directions for devotional service given by self-realized devotees. Such false devotees are like impersonalists, who also consider devotional service no better than ordinary fruitive actions.
Srila Gurudeva: Svamiji has stated this so clearly. But some don’t read or pay attention to his words. They have no taste in reading and going deep into his purports; this is the disease. It is an incurable disease. These people are also contagious and spread many germs.
Have all your questions been answered? I think most of them have been answered.
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