Bhagavān is greedy for love. All hearts of the conditioned souls have this capacity to love, but they misuse it in many different ways. Bhajana is to collect all of one’s misplaced love and use it only for God. This love is the paraphernalia for God’s service.
To attain the state of pure love for Kṛṣṇa, one must strictly and carefully follow the path of bhakti. Śrīman Mahāprabhu gave prudent instructions on this matter to Ragunātha dāsa Gosvāmī:
grāmya-kathā nā śunibe, grāmya-vārtā nā kahibe
bhāla nā khāibe āra bhāla nā paribe
amānī mānada hañā kṛṣṇa-nāma sadā la’be
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-sevā mānase karibe
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 6.236-237
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 Kṛṣṇa, and within your mind render service to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana.
Mahāprabhu instructs, “Always remain at that place where the kīrtana of Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa is being performed, and always be engaged in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s internal service by the medium of the purified mind. Mahāprabhu also instructed, “Don’t take such opulent food and dress, and give up all material greed by being pleased with what comes easily!”
Does this mean that we should take anything that comes or is offered, such as carrot halavā, gāṅjā, bong, intoxicants and meat? Never take tāmasi or rajasi foods. Only take that which is sāttvika. Sāttvika qualities don’t disturb the transcendentalist. It helps them reach the platform of nirguṇa–mahā-prasāda.
yathā-yogya-bhoga, nāhi tathā roga
anāsakta sei, ki āra kahabo
āsakti rohita sambandha-sahita
viṣaya-samūha sakali mādhava
Those who accept only those sense objects that are necessary to maintain their bodies for the service of Kṛṣṇa, can never fall prey to the disease of material infatuation. What can be said about their detachment? Being free from all types of false attachment they see everything in relation to Kṛṣṇa, and thus understand that everything is meant for the pleasure of Mādhava, the husband of all Lakṣmīs.
markaṭa-vairāgya nā kara loka dekhāñā
yathāyogya viṣaya bhuñja’ anāsakta hañā
antare niṣṭhā kara, bāhye loka-vyavahāra
acirāt kṛṣṇa tomāya karibe uddhāra
Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya-līlā 16.238-239
Caitanya Mahāprabhu instructed Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, “Do not adopt markaṭa-vairāgya (external, false renunciation) simply to impress the general populace. You should accept without attachment whatever sense objects are appropriate for maintaining your devotional practices and give up all material desires within your heart. Internally develop staunch faith in Śrī Kṛṣṇa and externally carry out your worldly responsibilities in such a way that no one can detect your inner mood. If you act like this, Śrī Kṛṣṇa will very quickly deliver you from material existence.”
Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.125) states:
yuktaṁ vairāgyam ucyate
Appropriate renunciation is to accept objects favorable to one’s service while being detached from that which is unrelated to Kṛṣṇa and attached to that which is related to Kṛṣṇa.
Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā 6.17:
yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā
For one who is moderate in eating and recreation, balanced in work and regulated in sleeping and wakefulness, his practice of yoga destroys all material miseries.
Mahāprabhu instructed to respect all. The uttamā Vaiṣṇava respects all living entities, but they don’t see the external flesh and form.
brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śva-pāke ca
The wise look with equal vision upon a gentle and learned brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a cāṇḍāla.
sarva-bhūteṣu yaḥ paśyed
bhūtāni bhagavaty ātmany
He who experiences the revelation of his own cherished form of Bhagavān in the hearts of all jīvas, including his own; who experiences that all jīvas, their very existence resting in Bhagavān, are fully surrendered to that same Supreme Absolute Reality; and who perceives everyone in the whole world as a Vaiṣṇava, is known as an uttamā Vaiṣṇava (topmost Vaiṣṇava). Such a Vaiṣṇava does not see the difference between a Vaiṣṇava and a non-Vaiṣṇava.
Mahāprabhu first instructed the sādhaka not to hear or speak about any bogus mundane talks, this is like a viral disease that enters through the ear and makes one crazy; this poison goes inside and creates a raging fire.
Mahāprabhu also instructed, “Give respect to everybody and don’t wait for any personal respect.”
By giving respect to someone, their good qualities come to you automatically. But if you give respect to any bad person will they transfer their bad qualities to you? No. If you praise them, then they won’t disturb you. They will leave you alone. But do so without being attached to them and not following their path or taking their shelter. People who are gluttonous will be easily pleased if you gorge them on food and they will eat and sleep peacefully. Similarly, if you give respect to people greedy for prestige, then they won’t disturb you. When you see such a person, humbly fold your hands and bow your head saying, “You have such a great personality!” ‘You are the king of thieves; therefore, I’m respecting you.’
Always remember Śrīla Gurudeva and the Guru-varga and they will protect you and bad qualities won’t come to you. Don’t independently give anyone respect. God is respected, Śrī Guru is respected. When seeing anyone, offer obeisance to them thinking of your divine master and Bhagavān, while praying to them, “Please protect me from this person.” But that person will think, “He is a very good person, for he properly respects me.”
Internally, offer praṇāmas to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Mahāprabhu, the holy dhāma, and don’t be related with any materialists. Don’t make your mind and heart a garbage center full of mundane pictures and faces. Make your heart and soul always focused in Śrī Vṛndāvana’s garden. By respecting such people, they will think, “bhakti is very good; this person is following bhakti and therefore is very humble and respecting everyone. I’m a cheater and very crooked, but he’s always respecting even me.” Then such a person will accept your sweetness and their nature will change. If you tell a bad person, “You are bad, you are bogus!” They will only become worse. A garbage pot will never be cleaned by throwing in more garbage, but by throwing out the garbage and washing it with soap then it will be possible to clean.
Distribute love and respect to all. Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura offered his disciples praṇāmas and spoke always with a respectful address. If the senior and elders don’t give respect to the juniors, then the juniors will never learn proper etiquette. A mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇava will respect all. The madhyama will consider right or wrong and the kaniṣṭha will not be able to give proper respect, but the mahā-bhāgavata gives everybody respect, otherwise they will not learn or change.
While respecting all, never think for any personal respect, think, “People may slap or kick me, no problem.” A dog’s nature is to bark, those who are dominated by the modes of ignorance and passion will automatically speak and act harshly. Don’t be disturbed. This is one’s good luck, otherwise one will make relation and attachment and one will have no time for bhajana in this short life.
Mahāprabhu finally told, “Always serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa by the mind.” Mahāprabhu sat in the Gambhīrā teaching this principle by His own example for 18 years. From this place, the Gauḍīya line and conception was begun by Mahāprabhu. After, Gopāla Guru Gosvāmī, Dhyānacandra Gosvāmī, Śrīla Bhaktinoda Ṭhākura and our Gauḍīya line preached from this platform made by Mahāprabhu.
After the dikṣa-guru gives initiation, the disciple must receive instruction on beginning the worship of the mantra-devāta. This will build the relation between the conditioned soul and God. Just as a young girl makes relation with the boy she is due to marry by service; similarly, through service to Kṛṣṇa, our relation will become fixed with Him, otherwise our will relation will be with someone else.
Mahāprabhu did not only instruct Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī to internally worship Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, but He gave a Girirāja Govardhana-śilā and guñjā-mālā for him to worship as well. The Gauḍīya line does not only practice smaraṇa.
kīrtana prabhāve smaraṇa haibe
sei kāle nirjana bhajana sambhava
Smaraṇa, remembrance, will come as a result of performing kīrtana, and at that time bhajana in seclusion becomes possible.
Nirjana–bhajana means to stay secluded from asat-saṅga and to stay protected by sat-saṅga. This is called pariveśa, environment. By a good environment, the mind will be fixed in service and not restless.
Then āveśa, absorption, is possible. This is called veśa, pariveśa and āveśa. Veśa means ones cloth; wearing devotional clothing makes one distinct from materialists and able to take the association of devotees, which is pariveśa, good environment, then, in such a situation one can become āveśa, or fully absorbed in the service of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
Mahāprabhu gave Girirāja Govardhana to Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī and instructed him to daily bathe Girirāja Govardhana giving abhiṣeka. What is the deeper meaning of giving abhiṣeka with pañcāmṛta? Externally this means to bathe the Deity with milk, sugar, yogurt, ghee and honey. But where will a renunciant acquire such expensive ingredients? Therefore, Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī wrote in his instructions to the mind:
samaṁ śrī-rūpeṇa smara-vivaśa-rādhā-giribhṛtor
vraje sākṣāt-sevā-labhana-vidhaye tad-gaṇa-yujoḥ
dhayan nītyā govardhanam anudinaṁ tvaṁ bhaja manaḥ
O my dear mind, in order to obtain the direct service of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Giridhārī, who are always entranced by amorous desire, and the service of Their eternal associates in Vraja, one should drink the pañcāmṛta of service to Them in accordance with the method prescribed by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī. This pañcāmṛta is ambrosial nectar comprised of the following five ingredients: worship of the Divine Couple (arcana), chanting the glories of Their transcendental names, forms, qualities and pastimes (saṅkīrtana), meditating upon Them (dhyāna), hearing the glories of Their names, forms, qualities and pastimes (śravaṇa), and offering obeisances unto Them. In addition one should worship Śrī Govardhana daily in accordance with the precepts of devotion.
The arcana; saṅkīrtana of nāma, rūpa, guṇa and līlā; dhyāna, śravaṇa and offering of obeisance to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa is pañcāmṛta for Their worship. Milk and yogurt quickly go rotten. But this other pañcāmṛta makes the heart pure and never rots, it only increases more and more in sweetness. Therefore, the sādhus conception is different. This is called siddha-praṇālī, or the process to attain perfection. This pañcāmṛta makes an everlasting relation with Bhagavān that can never be broken. Then the mind will never be contaminated.
Śrīman Mahāprabhu very intelligently gave this sweet instruction—vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-sevā mānase karibe. From morning to evening, and evening to morning, continuously be engaged in the service of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
Why does Mahāprabhu instruct to serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa? Śrī Rādhārānī is svarūpa-śakti, parā-śakti, and Kṛṣṇa is śaktimān. Within the Divine Couple, all of Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala and the Vrajavāsīs are included and if one is engaged in Their service then the mind will never be restless.
At the Gambhīrā, Rādhā-kānta Maṭha, Kāśī Miśra always internally served Jagannātha, Baladeva, Subhadrā and Sudarśana; therefore, Mahāprabhu chose that holy place to stay.
One day, many bhaktas came to Mahāprabhu and prayed, “Please forgive Choṭā Haridāsa for his offence.”
Mahāprabhu was disturbed, “O you are requesting Me to forgive him, hey Govinda, I will not stay here any longer, take everything and we are going. Now they are striving to make Me their follower by ordering Me around.” Mahāprabhu was very strong.
Another time, Vāṇīnātha, the younger brother of Rāmānanda Rāya, was imprisoned by the king’s son for tax evasion, although he was a government collector. When the prince had gone to collect the tax, Vāṇīnātha had insulted him. He was to be killed the next day when many devotees came and prayed to Mahāprabhu for His intervention. They prayed to Mahāprabhu “Please tell the king to stop the execution, he is Your follower.”
Mahāprabhu said, “If someone does any bad activity, punishment is appropriate, why should I help him?”
When the devotees requested Mahāprabhu even more, He said, “I will stay here no longer, I will go to Alanātha.”
Somehow Vāṇīnātha was released. He came before Mahāprabhu and offered praṇāma.
Pratāparudra Mahārāja had asked him, “Why don’t you give tax?”
Vāṇīnātha said, “What can I do? I am always serving the bhaktas and temple and all money is exhausted. Whatever comes I use for the service of Hari, guru and vaiṣṇavas.”
The king asked, “How many villages do you collect tax from?”
Vāṇīnātha said, “Fifty.”
The king said, “Okay, I am pleased with you, now I’ll give you 2,000 villages and you can use all tax for such service.”
Vāṇīnātha was very pleased and began serving more and more. He came near Mahāprabhu and Mahāprabhu said, “Why are you not giving the government its’ rightful tax?”
Vāṇīnātha said, “From where can I give, all things are for Hari, guru and vaiṣṇavas.”
Mahāprabhu said, “But they caught and were about to kill you.”
“No problem, one day all must die.”
“You were not afraid? What did you do in prison?”
“I was always chanting with my fingers up to 108 times per round.”
Mahāprabhu said, “How did you keep count?”
“With my nails I scratched my body every time I finished one round. Just see the lines on my body,” and he showed Mahāprabhu his body scratched with hundreds of nail marks.
Then Mahāprabhu was happy. Bhaktas never go distance from God and His service. The eternal servant is always ready for eternal service; they will never ever be hopeless or afraid.
In the Gambhīrā, Mahāprabhu was serving Kṛṣṇa incessantly, and He taught this service from there to the world.
If one is not engaged in mānasī-sevā, then the mind will be restless and run here and there. One will never come nearby God and cross māyā.
Śrīla Gurudeva gave all these instructions. By always remembering and following his instructions, we may stay at his lotus feet. This is our prayer.
Jagannātha Purī is a large city, but Mahāprabhu left all other places and stayed at the house of Kāśī Miśra in a small room practicing bhajana.
All places are not appropriate for bhagavad-bhajana. People say, “Do my bhajana, worship me!” The baby cries, “Give me milk; bathe me, put me to sleep, massage me!” All want others to worship them. The elder siblings say to their parents, “You only look after the baby and don’t serve us.” The husband tells the wife, “Worship me!” The wife tells the husband, “Worship me. I’m everything. I am the all and all!” In this world, everyone strives to engage others in their service. But Śrīman Mahāprabhu instructs, “Worship Parameśvara Śrī Kṛṣṇa, worship Ṭhākurajī.”
How is it possible for all living in the temple to be pūjārī? How many can serve one set of Deities? But without arcana, the conditioned soul will never get relation with Bhagavān; they only make relation with others. Therefore Mahāprabhu instructed to worship Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in the mind.
Mahāprabhu stayed continuously in the Gambhīrā speaking hari-kathā with Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rāya Rāmānanda. Mahāprabhu was very pleased and happy, but this happiness is very strange. He was always crying in the burning flames of separation. He barely ate or slept. He would crash His face against the walls and roll on the floor.
Govinda Prabhu guarded the gate from Mahāprabhu leaving, and all seven exits were bolted and locked. But Mahāprabhu would mysteriously escape outside in the night and run sometimes to the ocean or Cātaka-parvata and fall unconscious. Then the devotees would search and search to find Him.
If anyone begins mānasī-sevā and aṣṭa-yama-sādhana, then he crosses this world and will no longer be present here, even though his physical body will be here. This is the method of the Gauḍīya line followed by all our Guru-varga such as Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, Rāmacandra Kavirāja, Ragunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, and all others. Ordinary people only fight for food and comfortable sleeping arrangements like animals. They are always mad to maintain this corpselike body, but they never follow Mahāprabhu. Conditioned souls have natures like the fisherman, even coming in contact with sādhus and opportunity for salvation, they run fast in the opposite direction.
Sometimes, in front of the Jagannātha Temple, Mahāprabhu’s body extended out 10 meters and all His joints slackened and became dislodged, or all His limbs went inside like a turtle and the cows came and licked Him. Mahāprabhu showed His ecstasies of mānasī-sevā. Śrīman Mahāprabhu taught all these things, but people have no time for what is the most important. They spend all their time for the mind and bodily maintenance and there is no time to follow Mahāprabhu’s line and movement. There is no time even to give one hour for mānasī-sevā of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. If someone sits down to chant, then quickly Nidrā-devī, [the Goddess of sleep] comes and whispers, “Why have you left me, I will take you in my lap.” Otherwise one will become suddenly hungry and someone will come distributing kacoris, malapuā or ice cream, and they will call you to come eat, saying, “Come quickly, or else everything will be finished!”
This is not the process of bhajana. First do bhajana, food for the soul, then take bhojana, food for the body. Mundane people say, “First take bhojana, food, and then practice bhajana. Otherwise if the machine has no oil or water, how will it run? First worship this body and after worship anything else.” This is not the process of siddha-praṇālī.
How did Mahāprabhu pass His time living in Jagannātha Purī for 18 years? What instructions did He give to the aspiring sādhakas? In the early morning Mahāprabhu went to the maṅgala-āratī of Jagannātha; then He went to meet with Haridāsa Ṭhākura and the devotees. Maṅgala-āratī gives all auspiciousness. But people say, “Oh, why is it so early? Why can’t it be at nine o’clock? I can’t handle so much auspiciousness. When my sleep is finished, I will worship God.” But such people never get any time to serve God. They are always engaged in their personal and familial services.
Mahāprabhu first went to maṅgala-āratī, and then afterwards He met with all the devotees and distributed mahā-prasāda and hari-kathā. He never hid mahā-prasāda selfishly. First give to the devotees and then take their remnants. Once, Mahāprabhu went to the house of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya after maṅgala-āratī with the mahā-prasāda makan–miśrī of Jagannātha. Mahāprabhu gave to Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya to take and he took without chanting any mantras, properly respecting mahā-prasāda.
Mahāprabhu didn’t hide anything for Himself. Once He was given the prasādi toothbrush twig of a Bakula tree that had been used for Lord Jagannātha. Jagannātha everyday brushes His teeth before bathing and all other services. Mahāprabhu brought this twig to Haridāsa Ṭhākura and placed it in the ground saying, “I have brought Jagannātha’s mahā-prasāda for you, and this is non-different from Jagannātha Himself.” The next day a sprout came up and slowly it became a vast tree.
When Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī was diseased in Jagannātha Purī, Mahāprabhu daily ran to embrace him by force even though his body was full of sores. The devotee doesn’t suffer the results of karma. Bhagavān is very merciful and gives sickness so that other people won’t come near the sādhu and disturb him. Instead, mundane people will think they must be sinful due to their diseased state. Mundane people look for red and healthy yogīs to bless them with material success. But they won’t disturb a sickly Vaiṣṇava, thinking, “He must be bogus, therefore, his body is rotten!” Bhagavān gives His mercy as sickness.
jata dekha vaiṣṇavera vyavahāra-duhkha
niṣcaya jāniha sei parānanda sukha
viṣaya-madāndha saba kicchui nā jāne
vidyā kūla, dhana-made vaiṣṇava nā cine
Caitanya-Bhāgavata madhya 9.240-241
“When you see a Vaiṣṇava of the highest order who seems to be suffering from material misery, you should know for sure that he is really experiencing the highest ecstasy. Bewildered by sense enjoyment and puffed up with pride in their knowledge, education, birth, wealth, beauty, and so on, ignorant people cannot understand the activities or position of a Vaiṣṇava. A Vaiṣṇava, on the other hand, never considers country of birth, level of education or wealth to be important qualifications, but distributes the Lord’s mercy to everyone, regardless of their social position or cultural background.”
Sense enjoyers can’t understand the vaiṣṇavas, that person who before they called a mahā-bhāgavata, when they see them sick they will say, “He isn’t a Vaiṣṇava, he must be a great sinner!” But they don’t understand the mercy of Bhagavān. The devotee has no attachment to his physical body. He is 24 hours engaged in service to his worshipable Lord. Therefore, Mahāprabhu arranged this pastime to teach this, and He ran daily to embrace Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī who had this condition for one year.
Jagadānanda Paṇḍa advised Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī to return quickly to Śrī Vṛndāvana. Mahāprabhu chastised him for advising his senior. Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī thought, “I will give up my life under the chariot of Lord Jagannātha, I cannot tolerate that Mahāprabhu embrace my sinful body!”
Mahāprabhu understood his intention and said, “Is this your body or mine?” One year later Mahāprabhu ran and by force embraced him and all the sores disappeared and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī took a beautiful golden form. The devotee accepts the desire of God, whether He gives health or sickness, poverty and disrespect, or the position of an emperor. The devotee knows that the body is rotten and fated to destruction. Today, tomorrow or after a few short years the body will be burned or eaten by worms. Then why should we distribute our mind and bodies to relatives for sense enjoyment?
Mahāprabhu mercifully performed many pastimes to connect all hearts with Bhagavān. Once, Jagadānanda Paṇḍa brought high quality oil to Govinda Prabhu for massaging Mahāprabhu to cool His head and body. But Mahāprabhu said, “Give this oil to Jagannātha for His lamps, I won’t use it.”
When Govinda Prabhu told Jagadānanda Paṇḍa, “Mahāprabhu will not accept.”
Jagadānanda Paṇḍa said, “Why not? If He doesn’t accept it then He will soon understand the result!”
Mahāprabhu said, “I’m the authority and senior, if a person in such a position uses everything for his own enjoyment, this sets a bad example for those who follow.”
Jagadānanda Paṇḍa waited two weeks trying to get Mahāprabhu to accept, after he threw the oil pot on the ground and ran to his room in anger and fasted.
Jagadānanda Paṇḍa said, “I will give up my life by fasting!” Three days passed without Jagadānanda Paṇḍa coming out of the room, or taking any food or water.
Mahāprabhu went in the early morning outside the room of Jagadānanda Paṇḍa and said. “O Jagadānanda, where are you? I am going to bathe in the ocean, when I come back I will take mahā-prasāda here. I am very hungry and have not eaten for a long time, so please cook something.”
Mahāprabhu left and Jagadānanda Paṇḍa went to the forest, collected tamarind tree leaves, boiled them with salt water of the ocean and made sakh, along with a chutney and rice. Mahāprabhu had also fasted for three days. Mahāprabhu came back and saw his cooking was finished. Govinda Prabhu gave Mahāprabhu prasādam, but Mahāprabhu said, “Today I’m not eating alone, I’ll take with Jagadānanda.”
Jagadānanda Paṇḍa told from inside to Govinda, “First let Mahāprabhu take, then I will.”
Mahāprabhu took prasāda and said, “Today the cooking is very tasty due to being prepared with Jagadānanda’s anger fire. Now I am feeling completely cooled.”
Mahāprabhu told Govinda Prabhu to wait and make sure that Jagadānanda Paṇḍa took mahā-prasāda. What is the nature of the pure servant? They can never give up their service. The guru-sevaka’s anger is not hostile, but is born out of deep affection. This is called prema-kalaha, loving quarrels. But the sevaka always desires to serve. If one service is not accepted, he arranges something else. Jagadānanda Paṇḍa spent a long time making this costly sandal oil but Mahāprabhu did not accept. Mahāprabhu showed by His own example how people in high position should act. They must not think, “I am guru and the authority, everything that comes is for my sense enjoyment, I am as good as God.”
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Guru Darshan”. Available from [email protected] )