[Lecture by Srila Gurudeva, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja]
San Francisco 03 July 1996
Srila Gurudeva: I request Śrīpāda Gurudāsa Prabhu to explain how Svāmīji came here and how he began to preach the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness in all the various places of this world. I request that he give emphasis on which of the many places Svāmīji visited in the course of his preaching. Gurudāsa Prabhu should also explain how Svāmīji collected so many disciples with his love and affection. My health is not permitting me to give a class, so I want to hear from him. If my health gets better then we will make a program for the day after tomorrow, this Friday, and he will help us go there. So now I want to hear something and if there will be time then I will explain some portions of Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda Saṁvāda from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Now, I request Śrīpāda Gurudāsa Prabhu to speak. Pass him the microphone.
Śrīpāda Gurudāsa Prabhu: Well, thank you all for inviting me to this wonderful Vaiṣṇava family. Quite logically we would all not be in this room and knowing one another if Prabhupāda didn’t come here. One or two of us might have met but this phenomena of Prabhupāda coming here with practically nothing and bringing us Kṛṣṇa-consciousness is what brought us together.
I was in San Francisco when the New York temple at 26 Second Avenue had opened. Some devotees from New York City like Mukunda Prabhu, Haridāsa Prabhu, Rayarāma Prabhu, and Hayagrīva Prabhu eventually came with Śrīla Prabhupāda here to San Francisco.
There were no deities; hardly any books. There was the first non-Sanskrit edition of the Bhagavad-gītā; there were no mṛdaṅgas; there were a few karatālas; there were no dhotis; and no tilaka. We wore costumes, and had dogs and cats outside the temple. There weren’t even the Caitanya and Govinda prayers, nothing. Literally, Svāmīji, as Prabhupāda was known then, spoon-fed us Kṛṣṇa-consciousness. We didn’t ask any deep questions, but there was a lot of chanting. We did have our japa beads, although at first they were of various sizes and shapes and not Tulasī beads per say. So Prabhupāda encouraged us to chant and he would speak as simply as we could understand. He would speak of Kṛṣṇa and His pastimes in Vṛndāvana, which enlivened our hearts. But so much was all new to us and Prabhupāda was translating a few books like Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā.
Meanwhile, Prabhupāda continued the mimeograph copy of Back to Godhead. At first there was not even a vyāsāsana. There was a makeshift altar and one of the devotees who was an artist put a totem pole next to the altar. This devotee thought that the Pañca-tattva were women and painted them like that. Seeing his work, Prabhupāda said, “No, this painting must be changed.”
Prabhupāda was definitely like a father to us, but later on, in his humility he was also like a son, for he put forward questions like, “Is that all right?” In his complete humility and wisdom he was able to attract so many enjoyers of the hippie era whose goal was sense gratification. We were good at gratifying our senses and he was able to attract us with his sincerity, love, and expertise in being able to see each person and what they were like, and encourage them in the perfect way. Śrīmatī Yamunā-devī Dāsī was good in calligraphy while I was doing photography. I saw that if I wanted to be next to the ‘Swami’, I should do something which would be counted as Kṛṣṇa’s service. So I began arranging television and radio programs which meant that I had to go inside of the room and have an audience and say, “Such and such happened.”
We were going on the radio and the television. In one such instance, when the television program was all set up, there was a buzzing sound that appeared from nowhere. The crew was baffled as to its origin, all the while thinking, “What is that buzzing?” They followed the wires that went into the machine. It took them almost an hour. They followed them back to Prabhupāda only to realize that he was chanting “Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa.”
One of the places we used to visit on our morning walks was stow lake and this was a lesson to me because at first we all wanted to walk next to Svāmīji. So, sometimes we were not letting our godbrothers and godsisters get close and I thought to myself, “I am not going to fight. I am just going to walk”. In this habitual arrogance, which stemmed from our past habits, an instance arose where there were some ducks sleeping right next to the lake. Someone came by and said, “Get out of the way. Svāmīji is coming! Get out of the way.”
The ducks were sleeping and they got up, very grumpy. They started to quack. Seeing this, Prabhupāda said, “As you were thinking that they were disturbing us, they are thinking that we are disturbing them.”
I saw and realized that this is compassion, wherein you can see every living entity as a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. This compassion was displayed many times perhaps in an instance where I made a mistake, like not getting a receipt for items purchased. Prabhupāda would correct us, saying, “You American boys and girls are not trained.” He would always forgive us at the end.
As a family, Prabhupāda slowly introduced the prayers, the shaved head, the tilaka, the mṛdaṅga, and so many things. Then finally—the books. From his descriptions in the books I began thinking about Vṛndāvana, and how I really wanted to go there. As the numbers of our family grew, it got harder and harder for everyone to get an audience with Prabhupāda. However, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, Svāmīji would let us all come in the room. We gathered around, like we are now.
The servants of Prabhupāda finally said, “Don’t let Gurudāsa in!” because I thought that I can read these books, but I am not such a great scholar. What I wanted to do is watch and be with Svāmīji to see how he actually reacted to actual events that were taking place in the present. I saw the analogy that by being with Prabhupāda, I could realize what it would be like when Kṛṣṇa was there. Of course I am not saying that Prabhupāda is Kṛṣṇa, we all understand the philosophy. But when Kṛṣṇa comes and you leave the milk boiling on the stove, it is that phenomena.
When Prabhupāda did anything, even when he simply looked this way or that— in whatever he did, he was the center, the cynosure, of all eyes and it enlivened and inspired us so much. My idea was, “I am going to have as much time with Svāmīji as possible.” Because of this, the servants said, “Don’t let Gurudāsa in, because he is always in with Prabhupāda.” They said this not in a mean way but just in the way that expressed, “Oh, he is here again.”
By the mercy of the caitya-guru somehow or another Upendra Prabhu would go to the kitchen and I would realize that it was my chance to go meet Svāmīji and they would come back only to realize, “It is Gurudāsa again.”
So I would do that and, like I say, through the years that was one of my main ways to become Kṛṣṇa-conscious—to have as much time as possible with Prabhupāda. It could be vāṇī or vapu also. It could be from his presence or the philosophy. It could be from the hearing, singing, thinking, and remembering, which are very important processes of devotion. This is what we can do as a family—remember Śrī Kṛṣṇa or Lord Caitanya, and all these inspiring things on a daily basis. This will keep us going and enthused.
There are many more pastimes but I think I will leave that to the possibility that we may go on Friday to the selfsame place where these pastimes occurred. We can remember the pastimes that happened there, exclaiming, “This happened there! This happened here!”
Śrīla Prabhupāda gave us everything from nothing and we became more and more interested and to this day—this is what happened. We are a family together and it is due to him coming and giving us this. We must be very kind to one another and we must always nurture one another in Kṛṣṇa-conscious service. It is a small family and a wonderful family. So let’s help each other to become Kṛṣṇa-conscious. Thank you very much.
[Applause from the devotees.]
[The microphone is passed to Srila Gurudeva.]
cakṣur unmīlitaṁ yena
tasmai śrī gurave namaḥ
kṛpā-sindhubhya eva ca
vaiṣṇavebhyo namo namaḥ
nāmne gaura-tviṣe namaḥ
he kṛṣṇa! karuṇā-sindho
śrī kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu-nityānanda
śrī advaita gadādhara śrīvasādi-gaura-bhakta-vṛnda
hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare
We started Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda Saṁvād fifteen days ago and we have come up to this śloka by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī:
krīyatāṁ yadi kuto ‘pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ
janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate
Padyāvalī 14 (Quoted in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 8.70)
[Intelligence which is infused with taste for kṛṣṇa-bhakti cannot be had even by pious activity in hundreds and thousands of lives. It can be attained only by paying one price—intense greed to obtain it. If it is available, purchase it without delay at any cost!]
We have explained this śloka. Svarūpa-siddha-bhakti is the type of bhakti which comprises of the primary limbs of śravanam, kīrtanam, andviṣṇu-smaraṇam. Bhakti is one but is divided into sixty-four limbs, and then to nine limbs and then to five:
sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgavata-sravaṇa
mathura-vāsa, śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevana
sakala-sādhana-śreṣṭha ei pañca aṅga
kṛṣṇa-prema janmāya ei pañcera alpa sāṅga
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 22.129
[One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, reside at Mathurā, and worship the Deity with faith and veneration. These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Kṛṣṇa.]
The prayojana, ultimate goal, is kṛṣṇa-prema, not Kṛṣṇa. Prayojana means the goal of our bhajana. Our goal is one, kṛṣṇa-prema. When we practice, the first stage is called sādhana-bhakti, then comes bhāva-bhakti, and then prema-bhakti.
I have also explained sādhana-bhakti, which is of two kinds, vaidhī-bhakti and rāgānuga-bhakti. Our granthas like Śrīmad-Bhagavatam, Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, the books of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī—all propound rāgānuga-bhakti. They want to take us all in the line of rāgānuga-bhakti.
In ancient times, before the advent of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, there was only bhakti coming through the four sampradāyas, namely the Śrī Sampradāya, the Madhva Sampradāya, Nimbāditya Sampradāya, and Rudra Sampradāya. After that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came and transformed bhakti into bhakti-rasa.
Before Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu anyone had not caused such a transformation. There was only vaidhī-bhakti before the advent of Mahāprabhu and the goal of the bhakti was to achieve Vaikuṇṭha and the service of Śrī Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa, otherwise, to annihilate oneself in the impersonal, nirviśeṣa Brahma, which is called sāyujya-mukti. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came and cut out the fallacy of these theories of Mayāvāda and impersonalism. He established bhakti-rasa and He especially ordered Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī to establish what bhakti-rasa is. He also told Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī how bhakti can be transformed into bhakti-rasa. Both (Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Raghunatah dāsa Gosvāmī) were so great that everywhere in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (they are glorified), at the end of each chapter, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has written:
śr-rūpa-raghunātha-pade yāra asa
caitanya-caritāmṛta kahe kṛṣṇadāsa
[Praying at the lotus feet of Śrī rūpa and Śrī Raghunātha, always desiring their mercy, I, Kṛṣṇadāsa, narrate Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, following in their footsteps.]
So bhakti is of two kinds, vaidhī-bhakti and rāgānuga-bhakti. The sādhakas who are qualified for rāgānuga-bhakti are very rare. Vaidhī-bhakti is that bhakti wherein the sādhakas are fearful of the injunctions and cautions of the Vedas and the mentioned miseries of conditioned life—birth, death, old age, disease, and death. They wish to be liberated from this condition and hence follow vaidhī-bhakti.
By past impressions and new impressions like having the association of a bona fide tattva-vit, rasika, bhāvuka-bhakta; the sādhaka can be qualified for rāgānuga-bhakti. The rāgānugā-sādhakas will begin from the stage of ruci, whether there is initiation or not. For them dīkṣā and puraścaryā is not necessary, whereas for those who are now starting to tread the path of rāgānuga-bhakti, dīkṣā is absolutely essential. For those like Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura, Śrīla Rāya Rāmānanda, and Śrīla Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita, and for any most exalted personality, these things are not required. We do not know the dīkṣā-guru of Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura. We also do not know the dīkṣā-guru of Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī who went to Kāśi when Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu left His home. Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī went and adopted the designation ‘Svarūpa’ which is an upādhi, or designation, of the impersonalists, and when he heard that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to Śrī Jagannath Purī, he left everything and came to join Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s movement. He was the first bona fide associate of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Therefore, in this case, we should not think that initiation is essential for them, but for us initiation is most essential.
Some say that initiation is not necessary. They say that, “Mahāprabhu is our Gurudeva. Svāmījī is our Gurudeva. We don’t want a dīkṣā-guru. We can achieve bhakti like this without one.” But this is not bona fide, we should always be under the guidance of a bona fide guru, otherwise we cannot advance in our Kṛṣṇa-consciousness, because we cannot follow the order of anyone. Finally, we will become vagabonds, like hippies. We must not do this.
So here he (Śrīla Rāya Rāmānanda Prabhu) is describing rāgānuga-bhakti. He has talked about arcana and other limbs which will lead one to Vaikunta, but Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has not come for this.
Yesterday, I told this verse—krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih.
Mahāprabhu heard this verse and said, “eho haya, this is all right; not alright, but right. However, you should continue.” Śrīla Rāya Rāmānanda Prabhu then said that dāsya-prema is sarva-sādhya sāra—the highest goal of life. Mahāprabhu said to Rāya Rāmānanda Prabhu, “This is all right also, but you must go on.”
Śrīla Rāya Rāmānanda Prabhu then quoted a śloka from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to support dāsya-prema:
pumān bhavati nirmalaḥ
tasya tīrtha-padaḥ kiṁ vā
[Simply by hearing the all-auspicious names of Bhagavān, the jīva becomes pure, so for those who are the servants of the lotus feet of tīrtha-pada Bhagavān, what desirable object remains to be still attained?]
Śrīla Rāya Rāmānanda Prabhu says that dāsya-prema is the highest goal because those who have it have left karma, jñāna, tapasyā, and all kinds of these things. They have also left mukti, salvation, and when they have been liberated then they can be the servant of Śrī Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa, otherwise not.
Anyabhilāṣitā sunyam—there should be no worldly desires. Any sort of sense gratification should be distinct by its absence. Nothing extraneous should exist. They have given up even mukti. A devotee like Śrī Ajāmila was given mercy by the Supreme Lord even though Ajāmila called out to his son. When Ajāmila called out to his son, the Supreme Lord thought, “Ajāmila is calling Me.”
So this is nāmābhāsa. Śrī Nārāyaṇa immediately sent forth His four Viṣṇudūtas who resembled Śrī Viṣṇu Himself in divine bodily appearance. They were four-armed and held conches, disks, clubs, and lotus flowers in their hands. They saved Ajāmila from death. Many incidents transpired, after which Ajāmila wanted to touch the lotus feet of the four Vaiṣṇavas, but they suddenly vanished.
He thought to himself, “I didn’t even call out to Lord Nārāyaṇa, but I was still saved from death by the Viṣṇudutas. I shall chant His holy name. Nārāyaṇa! Nārāyaṇa! Oṁ namo nārāyaṇāya. Oṁ namo nārāyaṇāya.”
He left his home and everything, and went to Haridwar where he spent the rest of his life associating with Vaiṣṇavas. He took bath in the Gaṅgā every day and with love and affection began to chant his Lord’s name. He had some anarthas, even though he was saved from death. So, every day he took bath in the Gaṅgā at Haridwar and with all his love and heart, Ajāmila began to chant, “Oṁ namo nārāyaṇāya. Oṁ namo nārāyaṇāya.”
After some time, all the anarthas, such as svarūpa-brahma (illusion about the Lord’s self and one’s own self) and other unwanted desires, were washed away. He came in the stage of ‘bhāva-avasthā’ and then death came. But Ajāmila put his feet on the head of death, and the same Viṣṇudutas appeared again and took Ajāmila, who by now had himself manifested a four-armed form, to Vaikuṇṭha.
āge haya mukti, tabe sarva-bandha-nāśa
tabe se haite pāre śrī-kṛṣṇera dāsa
[First one must attain liberation, then his material bondage is destroyed, then he can become the servant of Lord Kṛṣṇa.]
We cannot go directly to Vaikuṇṭha, first salvation will come, but not that impersonal kind of salvation—salvation from birth, death, and from all sorts of sense gratification. Then our heart will be pure and we will come to the stage of bhāva, and then prema, and then we can go there.
Śrīla Rāya Rāmānanda Prabhu spoke this verse—yan-nāma-śruti-mātreṇa…
Those who are impure, having so many anarthas, but who hear the names of personalities like Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī, Śrīla Rāya Rāmānanda Prabhu, and all the servants of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Rāma, or Nārāyaṇa, can be easily purified of all their anarthas just by hearing the names of such most exalted personalities. The servants of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Rāma, or Nārāyaṇa are of such a high level. Nothing remains if one becomes the servant of Prabhu. It is a very high post.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said that for a devotee who is serving Kṛṣṇa in dāsya-rasa, a very exalted position awaits. What is dāsya-rasa? It is the conception that my Lord is so exalted and almighty, while I am low and insignificant. This is dāsya-rasa. So many services are performed by those in dāsya-rasa, like the services performed by Śrī Hanumānji. He massages the lotus feet of Lord Rāma and he can bring so many fruits for Rāma. If needed Hanumānji can take Lord Rāma and Śrī Lakṣmaṇji on his shoulders and fly for lakhs of miles. Hanumānji can go to Laṅkā and burn the whole of Laṅkā to ashes. He performs so many kinds of service. When Rāmacandra returned to Ayodhyā, Hanumānji was serving Rāma day and night. Seeing Hanumān’s service, Śrīmatī Sītā-devī, Lakṣmaṇji, Bharataji, and Śatrughnaji became worried because Hanumāna was serving Rāma all the time, depriving them of the chance and time to serve Rāma themselves. Hence, they decided amongst themselves to divide Śrī Rāma’s service into four parts and allocate themselves one part each. They took eight hours each. Śrīmatī Sītā Devī would serve Rāma in the night, Lakṣmaṇ in the morning, followed by Bharath, and then Shatrugna.
Now Hanumāna had no service to do, so Hanumāna went to them, touched their lotus feet, and smeared the dust all over his body. He then beseeched them to give him some sevā without which he would be unable to maintain his life. He said, “Give me just a little sevā. Please do not deprive me entirely. My life and soul is the service of Rāma.”
Śrīmatī Sītā-devī, Lakṣmaṇji, Bharataji, and Śatrughnaji consulted each other and finally agreed to give one service to Hanumāna. They told him that when Rāmacandraji yawned it was his service to snap his fingers, as per Vedic custom.
Why does a person yawn when hari-kathā is going on? It is ignorance and portrays a lack of interest in listening to hari-kathā. If one has no taste in listening to hari-kathā then a person yawns. Soon after, ignorance’s mother, sleep, will come. So they gave this service to Hanumānji knowing that Śrī Rāmacandraji would never yawn. He is never tired or lazy, therefore, this service was given to Hanumānji.
Hanumānji became so happy, thinking, “I have some service!” He sat near the gate and began to snap his fingers incessantly, resulting in Śrī Rāmacandraji yawning incessantly. For as long as His dear devotee Hanumān is snapping his fingers, how could Ramachandraji stop yawning? Śrīmatī Sītā-devī, Lakṣmaṇji, Bharatji, and Śatrughnaji could not serve Rāmacandraji for a single moment. They then took a plate of mahā-prasādam to Rāma, but Rāma was continuously yawning to the snapping of Hanumanji’s fingers. They then gave Rāma a glass of water, but Rāma was unable to drink as Rāma was continuously yawning. This went on day and night and Śrīmatī Sītā-devī, Lakṣmaṇji, Bharataji and Śatrughnaji went to Hanumān and asked, “Why are you snapping your fingers without stopping?”
Hanumāna said, “You have given me only one little service, also I do not know when Prabhu will yawn, so I am snapping my fingers beforehand. I will be ready any time that He may yawn.”
Śrīmatī Sītā-devī, Lakṣmaṇji, Bharataji and Śatrughnaji went to Rāmacandra and asked what to do. Rāmacandra said to them, “Do you want to kill Me? Ever since this sevā was given to Hanumān, I cannot rest or eat. Please give him some substantial service, otherwise I will die and you will all die. Go to Hanumān at once.”
The four of them went to Hanumāna and said, “O great one, you should be kind to us and take the whole service to yourself. If any service remains, we shall take that only if you permit it. Only your service is most pleasing to Him.”
Hanumāna is like this. He is constantly serving Rāmacandraji, and Rāmacandraji is always happy to receive Hanumān’s service. We should be like this; a sevaka like Hanumān. We should be a sevaka, not a vaka, or a crane. There are four letters in sevā, and each letter has an implicit meaning. Those who know the moods and intentions of Śrī Hari, Guru, and Vaiṣṇavas, will serve them without even being asked or ordered to. They will see that Śrīla Gurudeva is coming from outside and his lips are dry. They will feel that he must need water. The sevaka will instantly bring a glass of water. In this instance the sevaka takes into consideration the season. If it is the summer season, the sevaka will bring cold water, or a glass of juice according to Śrīla Gurudeva’s liking. The sevaka will see if Gurudeva needs a fan to be switched on or if Gurudeva needs the fan to be off. The sevaka observes if Gurudeva is hungry and thirsty, and if Gurudeva is hungry, the unrealized and novice sevaka arranges a significant quantity of madhuparka, comprising of a mixture of milk, honey, sugar, and ghee, and one kilogram of each. All Gurudeva needs is water and food for he is hungry but the unrealized sevaka will perform the arcana of Gurudeva for hours on end. Gurudeva might even exclaim, “I will die if you don’t give me water!”
But this sevaka will only reply by saying, “Let me first perform the arcana ceremony.”
This is not sevā. We should try to know the inner mood and intentions of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, and we should perform sevā without being ordered to. Someone who does this is really a sevaka like Hanumāna. But if you want to dive deep into more confidential services then go to Vraja. The Vrajavāsīs are not only śuddha-dāsya-sevaks (pure servants with the mood of servitude), they also have sakhya-bhāva mixed with dāsya-bhāva, with sakhya-bhāva predominating. They will see and know what service Śrī Kṛṣṇa needs and they will do the service at once. Their service is more superior than Śrī Hanumānji’s.
Sevakas of this caliber are liberated whether they are in this world or anywhere else. For instance, Svāmījī knew that his Gurudeva wanted kṛṣṇa-nāma to be preached in every part of the world. Śrīla Prabhupāda had presented to Svāmījī the message of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and Śrīla Prabhupāda accordingly wanted this śrī-gaura-vāṇī and kṛṣṇa-prema to be preached all over the world. Svāmīji knew that his holy master wanted this kṛṣṇa-prema and hare-kṛṣṇa-mahā-mantra to be preached everywhere all over the world.
Svāmījī did not try to refuse Śrīla Prabhupāda’s order by saying, “Oh, I will not go, I will not go.” So Svāmījī’s service is lakhs and lakhs times more superior.