Give up activities unrelated to Bhagavān. Give up duplicity, and other so-called, cheating processes. Do not have affection for the worship of different demigods. Love and affection spent here and there draws one to those places respectively and creates an obstacle on the path of devotional service .txt15
When one worships the demigods they become pleased and bestow material gifts. Thus one continues to worship them and becomes their follower. However, if that worshiper will give any respect, or follow anyone else, then those devatas will cause disturbance for that person. Demigods become attached to those people who follow them, like a poor person who, by good fortune, makes friends with a wealthy person and then becomes very attached to them. He will want to control them and not let go. Demigods like their own followers only. They have no capacity to control and fulfill all your desires. They give mundane things and think this is all-in-all for the jīva. They disturb those doing bhakti and they think if you are my follower, what is the need to go elsewhere? Therefore Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura is saying, “Don’t go to the side of the demigods. Don’t worship or look in their direction. If you go, then only worship them by nāma–sankīrtana. Then they will be happy and not displeased.”
Asat-kriyā-kuṭināṭī. Many think I will make money and by this I will serve God, Śrī Guru, and the devotees. But they do bad business to make this money: gambling, selling meat, cheating, and lying, and they think by this they can serve. But by this money it is not possible to serve Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. They will never accept it. This is andha–tamasika or blind ignorance. Some think, “I will sell my body and use this money for God.” This is not possible. God will not accept.
Once, in a sādhu’s āśrama an old lady came and arranged the funds for a nice feast. All the babajis and brāhmaṇas were invited. After eating the feast that night an old ninety-five year old babaji became very disturbed. He could not sleep or properly chant his harināma. Later he asked a sevaka to call the lady who had sponsored the feast. In the morning the lady came and he asked her, “Where are you from and how did you arrange the money for the feast. Please speak truthfully.”
She answered, “All my life I have been a prostitute. My life has been so full of sin. I wish to atone for these sins, thus I arranged to feed the sādhus.”
“Please, next time you should speak first about your intentions openly, otherwise a curse will come to you.”
The minds of the sādhus residing there became restless. They were not able to chant harināma. When they tried to meditate only bad thoughts came into their minds. To accept gifts or food stuffs given by sinful persons is very harmful for bhajana. Je kono vyavasā dhori’, jīvana nirvāha kori-Accepting whatever livelihood that suits you, just live your life honestly. Jekhona vyavasā dhori means eggs, meat, or fish. One cannot take these things and at the same time perform bhakti. Food given by a tāmasika person is like poison and will distract from bhajana. If anyone comes and offers me anything that is nirguṇā or sāttvika, I will first offer it to the Lord, share it with the bhaktas and then take a little, just to maintain my life. Although unlimited prasāda of Jagannātha and Mahāprabhu was easily available, still Dāsa Gosvāmī did not take very much. Also he never took any directly. He took only enough of this nirguṇā–prasāda to maintain his life. Just because so much is available doesn’t mean that I take everything. Then I will become slowly a big enjoyer and it will be impossible to control the senses.
Do not store or remember other’s faults and mistakes. Forget things like this immediately otherwise one will be like a prostitute. Meaning we are allowing others to take our body, mind, and thoughts. Sādhus have a different mentality. They are free from finding faults. Mahāprabhu tells how this life will be clean. Morning to evening without hari-kirtana and kathā I will never collect anything in my mind or body. Then sādhu’s hari-kathā will begin to bear the fruit of ceto–darpana–mārjanam. How can the baddha-jīva be cleansed? One must perform saṅkīrtana in the company of bhaktas. Performing śravaṇa and kīrtana with ordinary persons will not yield this result. This is also asat–saṅga. Only a person whose heart is clean can clean us. Even if he is not fully clean but is sincere, and is trying to be clean and humble, he can also help. He knows his own fault and is trying to change.
While in bhakti’s line one should be ananya. This means, sajātīyāśaye snigdhe sādhau saṅgaḥ svato vare. One may have other so-called intimate friends but they have no connection to bhakti. These are not one’s friends. Don’t follow them or be with them, even externally. Be strict and serious to avoid such saṅga. Even svajātīyāśaye is not enough, that bhakta must also be snigdha, kind to me and willing to give me shelter. A Vaiṣṇava is not duplicitous. Without hari-kīrtana he has nothing. He will never cheat. He has nothing to gain from anyone in this world. He is soft and sweet towards me. All of bhakti’s limbs are very sweet but how can one see and experience this? By this, ‘sajātīyāśaye snigdhe sādhau saṅgaḥ svato vare’, everything on the path of bhakti will become tasteful. This is pure goodness from the heart of a vrajavāsī-jana. How can it be anything but sweet? The Mahā-bhāgavata Guru-varga only distribute this śuddha-sattva.
If one performs naiṣṭhika-bhajana of Śrī Rādha-Kṛṣṇa, then the demigods and the forefathers become greatly pleased and bless him, repeatedly saying: ‘sādhu, sādhu,’ well done, well done. By performing yugala-bhajana, one floats in the bliss of prema and the three worlds become insignificant to him. txt.18
Those who worship Their Divine Lordships Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, float in the ocean of ecstatic love, and the inhabitants of all the three worlds worship such persons. The demigods and the forefathers become greatly pleased and shower their blessings saying, “well done, well done.”
In this world, everyone feels uplifted when they enjoy celestial, or material happiness. A gardener arranged an orchard with fruits like grapes, mangoes, and pomegranates. And he made a garden also with many flowers. Everyone was very happy by these flowers and fruits. They would share these fruits and flowers among themselves. The gardener made the garden and orchard for the happiness of everyone; he didn’t do it for his own pleasure. Similarly, if anyone follows bhakti’s rules and regulations under the guidance of the anurāgi Vaiṣṇavas, then everyone will become pleased and happy by the presence of such a person.
An anurāgi Vaiṣṇava nourishes the conditioned souls by giving them the nectarean mellows of devotion. Such an elixir is helpful for all the jīvas. The jīvas will always be pleased and happy.
kulaṁ pavitraṁ jananī kṛtārthā
vasundharā vā vasatiś ca dhanyā
nṛtyanti svarge pitaro ‘pi teṣāṁ
yeṣāṁ kule vaiṣṇava-nāmadheyam
Caitanya-maṅgala, Madhya-khaṇḍa 31.163
The family lineage in which a Vaiṣṇava appears becomes purified. His mother’s life becomes successful, his place of residence becomes glorified, and his forefathers dance in heaven.
By the mercy of sādhu, śāstras, and the holy dhāma, any person will become eligible to practice anurāgamayi-bhakti.
By remembering and associating with the followers of anurāgamayi-bhakti, a person will become the recipient of incalculable benefit. Why? The anurāgamayi-bhaktas are always present in Vraja-maṇḍala. They are always serving there in antara-daśā (internal consciousness), bahya-daśā (external consciousness), and ardha-bahya-daśā (half internal, and external consciousness). While also being present in this world, they simultaneously serve in the spiritual world. Anyone who comes near their service moods will be benefited.
When the anurāgamayi-bhaktas are in external consciousness, they will mercifully instruct the sādhaka on the proper observance of the limbs of bhakti. They will assure the sādhaka of their eternal welfare by their humble and sweet demeanor. The rules of vaidhī-bhakti are strong and straight. There is not much sweetness in this ‘do or die’ practice.
jāre dekhe tāre kahe dante tṛṇa dhori’
āmāre kiniyā loho bolo gaura-hari
eto boli’ nityānanda bhūme gaḍi jāya
sonāra parvata jeno dhūlāte loṭāya
Śrīla Locana dāsa Ṭhākura
Whomever He meets, catching a straw between His teeth, He begs, “O Brothers! Please do the bhajana of Śrī Gaurahari and purchase Me. One time! Chant Gaurahari!” Saying this, Lord Nityānanda falls onto the ground crying and shedding tears, looking like a mountain of gold rolling in the dust.
Nityānanda Prabhu didn’t beat or smash everyone. He humbly requested, and prayed to everyone. He sweetly said, “Please accept My words! This is good for you.” People then naturally changed by the Lord’s sweetness. Similarly, the sādhus also possess such mercy. There is no need to make a person forcibly follow the rules and regulations.
The śāstras state, “If you don’t follow these rules and regulations, you will go to hell and be duly punished there.”
But Nityānanda Prabhu and Mahāprabhu never spoke like this. They only give the moods of kṛṣṇa-prema. Even if a Vaiṣṇava is born in a demoniac family, when his demoniac family members remember him, they will immediately become happy and pleased. Mahāprabhu gave the responsibility of making everyone the followers of vraja-bhakti. He especially wanted that the nature, desires, and love of the Vraja-devīs be given to everyone. Then everyone will automatically receive attachment for anurāgamayi-bhakti. Thus, there will be no need to smash or squeeze anyone. Everyone will spontaneously change.
Some say, “I become very happy by remembering the Vaiṣṇavas.”
But they don’t know the reason for their happiness. Anurāga will gradually dawn on their hearts because of their respect and love for the sādhus. When their natures change, they will offer from their hearts. And then, the mood of yugala-bhajana that the sādhu has in his heart will appear in their hearts as well. There will be no need for harināma, dīkṣā, instructions, advice, or orders. When a person follows vraja-bhakti, the fragrance of his devotion will permeate the entire atmosphere and change everyone’s natures.
The followers of vaidhī-bhakti, karma, and jñāna try to control their senses by various means—but it is impossible to control the senses by such endeavors. Also, nobody will change as well. But everyone will automatically change in the association of the anurāgi-bhaktas. There will be no need to give separate classes. The anurāgi-bhaktas continuously speak about the glories of the Vrajavāsīs and the Vraja-devīs.
tasmin mahan-mukharitā madhubhic-caritra-
pīyūṣa-śeṣa-saritaḥ paritaḥ sravanti
tā ye pibanty avitṛṣo nṛpa gāḍha-karṇais
tān na spṛśanty aśana-tṛḍ-bhaya-śoka-mohāḥ
In assemblies of saintly persons, unlimited torrents of pure ambrosia emanate from the mouths of great souls in the form of narrations of Kṛṣṇa’s character, pastimes and qualities. Those who are never content when drinking these nectarean glories through their thirsty ears can never be affected by hunger, thirst, fear, grief, delusion, and other unwanted attachments.
The anurāgi-bhaktas continuously follow the rules and regulations of bhakti. Why? They have relation; they have sambandha-jñāna. By being connected to Guru-pāda-padma and the Guru-varga, the flow of anurāgamayi-bhakti will inundate the sādhaka’s heart.
Yugala bhajana jārā premānande bhāse tārā, tribhūvana tādera nichani, the rati of mādhurya-bhāva or uttama-rasa, will make the nectarean svarūpa of Śrī Kṛṣṇa appear in the sādhaka’s heart. The sādhaka’s senses will be overcome by Kṛṣṇa’s sweetness. The senses will only drink Kṛṣṇa’s sweetness. This is food for the soul. The moods of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī are not available for the conditioned souls. But, lucky people aspire to become the followers of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. By the mercy of Mahāprabhu’s followers, a sādhaka will realize that the moods of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs are unparalleled. Their guidance provides food for the soul. Nothing else can please the soul.
kāma tyaji’ kṛṣṇa bhaje śāstra-ājñā māni’
deva-ṛṣi-pitrādikera kabhu nahe ṛṇī
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.140
If a person renounces all material desires and completely engages in pure devotion to Kṛṣṇa, as revealed in the scriptures, he never remains indebted to the demigods, sages or forefathers.
Karabhājana Ṛṣi told Mahārāja Nimi, “How can you repay your debt to your forefathers and demigods?”
The forefathers say, “You have to marry and give birth to children. And then, you can free yourself of any form of debt.”
Kāma tyājī kṛṣṇa bhaje. The devotees don’t have any desire to engage in sense gratification. They only want to serve Kṛṣṇa under the guidance of the Vraja-devīs. They are not indebted to anyone. The forefathers, and demigods inspire their dependants to engage in sense gratification by force.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura describes that someone may argue that if one must give up the worship of the devatās, then how can one repay the debts owed to the them, as well as to the Ṛṣi’s and the Pitṛ-gaṇa? In order to answer this question Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura is saying here that one who worships Bhagavān, giving up the worship of the demigods, actually pleases the demigods and forefathers with this ananya-bhakti. Such a devotee no longer becomes indebted to anyone, just as if one waters the root of a tree, all the branches, leaves, and buds are all automatically nourished. Similarly, if one worships Bhagavān, who is the ultimate shelter, all the demigods, sages, and the forefathers are automatically satisfied. Nṛtyanti pītaraḥ sarve nṛtyanti ca pītāmahāḥ madvaṁse vaiṣṇavo ‘jātaḥ sa me trātā bhavisyati—the forefathers dance jubilantly and say, “Look, there is a bhakta of Kṛṣṇa born in my family. He will deliver us.”
Karabhājana Ṛṣi told Mahārāja Nimi, “You are not indebted to your parents, ancestors, demigods, or Ṛṣi-maharṣis.”
na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ
gato mukuṇḍaṁ parihṛtya kartam
Anyone who surrenders his life to the lotus feet of Mukuṇḍa, who is the only shelter, owes nothing to the demigods, sages, general living entities, relatives, guests or forefathers. Worldly obligations are automatically fulfilled by doing pure devotion and one is neither dependant nor a servant of anyone other than Mukunda.
Everyone is part and parcel of God. But everyone is taught to identify with their bodies. Their material identification is not real. The living entities are all part and parcels of God. Their material positions are temporary.
sei se parama-bandhu, sei mātā-pitā
śrī-kṛṣṇa-caraṇe yei prema-bhakti-dātā
Caitanya Maṅgala, Madhya-khaṇḍa 11.195
One who establishes my relationship with Kṛṣṇa is my true friend, my mother, and father. He is guru.
Kṛṣṇa is everyone’s father and mother. But as soon as a baby is born, he is taught to identify himself in relation with his family members. The child is not taught that God is everyone’s guardian. Our guardians or authorities are those who teach us God’s service. Yet, people forcibly try stealing one from God. Such people are great criminals. You must have no relation with them. You must be strong and straight to practice one-pointed bhajana. You should offer respect to those who are not favorable; but you must not be attached to them. Or else, you will wander away and lose everything. Therefore, the Vraja-devīs are only attached to Kṛṣṇa. They have no time to think about anything else.
We should offer our respects to all the demigods. We should offer God’s mahā-prasāda to all of them. They are also indebted to God. Our ordinary relatives and friends desire that we share our lives with them. But they are also offenders. Why? They are trying to steal and enjoy God’s property. They themselves don’t do bhajana and neither do they allow others to do bhajana.
They say, “Don’t do bhajana. You should only follow me. You are my property; you are my servant and slave.”
Therefore, they suffer life after life. They are admitted into old age homes by their children and after leaving their bodies, they are forced into hell. Nobody helps them. Why? They are cheating God’s parts and parcels. Those who are ignorant will be forgiven. But many people desire to cheat others by hook or crook. They always try to control others. This is not good. Even demigods should not be followed. When a conditioned soul crosses māyā and becomes fixed in bhajana, the demigods remark, “This soul is a great, powerful sādhu.”
Even those who were unfavorable before become favorable after some time. The desire for yugala-bhajana will initiate the flow of rasamayī-bhakti even while the sādhaka is staying in this world. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī’s Ṣaṭ-sandharbas provide sambandha, abhideya, and prayojana to the sādhaka. The sādhaka will then have a relation with Śrī Rādhā Mādhava’s family. This relation will pave way for respect unto the Vaiṣṇavas’ lotus feet. A sādhaka will then never forget hari-bhakti and harināma.
Srila Narottama das Thakur ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Sri Prema-Bhakti Candrika”. Available from firstname.lastname@example.org )