[The following is an excerpt from the upcoming Bhaktabandhav publication, Sri Harinama Cintamani]
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has given us this scripture, Harinama-cintamani, to instruct us how to purely chant harināma. Before, Caitanya Mahāprabhu had resided in Jagannātha Purī for 18 years. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura also stayed in Purī and would speak hari-kathā at Haridāsa Ṭhākura’s place of bhajana. And then, by the desire of Mahāprabhu, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura distributed this hari-kathā to all devotees in the form of this book.
The ocean in this world is very salty. Why is that? The living entities are full of anarthas, sins, and offenses, and when they bathe in the ocean, their sins and offenses are taken away, thus making the ocean salty and bitter. At the same time, the ocean has all wealth hidden within it. When a person goes to the ocean, offers obeisances, respectfully bathes, or simply sits on the shore, the ocean will purify that person. If you respect the ocean, he will give you his mercy and will purify you of your wicked nature. All the 32 holy rivers are also present within the ocean, making it incredibly beneficial for the jiva’s purification.
Lord Jagannātha is dāru-brahma, God in the form of wood. Lord Jagannātha gives happiness and nourishment to all living beings. The jīvas become cleansed by taking Jagannātha’s mahā-prasāda and staying in Jagannātha Purī.
After Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted the sannyāsa order and renounced His family life, He came to Jagannātha Purī.
What is the yuga-dharma of Kali-yuga? How can people permanently have a relationship with Kṛṣṇa? How can they put an end to their attraction to māyā? One person may be sent to stay in a particular place, but after some time he will become restless and leave that place. When the jīvas return to God, will they come back to māyā afterwards? Māyā is very alluring. We see that some bugs have wings, but what do they do? They fly into fire and meet their death. Everything is available for the living entities, including food and other necessities, but how many spend their time relating with God? Similarly, within a temple, Gurudeva arranges everything for his disciples, yet often they become restless and go back into māyā. Mahāprabhu desired to make the conditioned souls attracted to and related to God so that they would never turn back to māyā.
People come from far distances to see Jagannātha, but they only stay for a few minutes and then return to their own residence. They suffer so much in māyā, but they do not understand their predicament. They do not know how to achieve real, permanent happiness.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu renounced everything in this world, saying, “This is all useless.” He came to Jagannātha Purī on the shore of the salty ocean. He came to dāru-brahma, to Parabrahma, to Jagannātha. He resided near the temple and associated with śāstra and Vaiṣṇavas, thus teaching the living entities that their eternal place is with God, in His abode and with all His associates.
The conditioned souls continuously pass through the millions of species of life, in bodies presided over by the different elements. Yet despite all their endeavors to find happiness, they never become satisfied. Mahāprabhu descended to bestow a permanent relationship: svarūpa-siddhi. Without obtaining svarūpa-siddhi, the jīva will continue to strive for sense gratification. All of their senses are eager to enjoy; their eyes want to see attractive forms, their bodies want to touch something soft, their ears desire to hear sweet sounds, their noses want to smell sweet things.
Mahāprabhu therefore gave permanent taste, energy, and relationship with Kṛṣṇa to the souls trapped in this material world so that they would lose taste for all things mundane.
Mahāprabhu appeared along with all His associates. When living beings associate with devotees, they become uplifted. Often after people come to the temple and associate with Vaiṣṇavas, and then again return to their home after some time, their relatives will tell them that sādhu life is very bad and that they should do some business and enjoy family life. The relatives then have them distribute medicine and cloth, and engage in other philanthropic activities. They will never encourage one to chant harināma or to perform hari-bhajana.
People all over the world demand that God satisfy their desires. Mahāprabhu brought His associates into this world so that the living entities could develop relationships with them. For had He come alone, He would not have been able to change everyone and their selfish natures.
Sādhus are very kind. If you petition the demigods, they will give you poison if you ask for it. They do not consider what is good or bad for you. The sādhus, however, do not act like this. They will give only what is helpful for you.
bhajanti ye yathā devān
devā api tathaiva tān
“Those who worship the demigods receive reciprocation from the demigods in a way just corresponding to the offering. The demigods are attendants of karma, like a person’s shadow, but sādhus are actually merciful to the fallen.”
Mahāprabhu heard hari-kathā from bhaktas such as Rāmānanda Rāya and Svarūpa Dāmodara and He discussed what would be specifically beneficial for the living beings at present.
Not everything is helpful all the time. When an infant is born, he drinks his mother’s milk and he cannot take heavy foodstuffs such as ghee. But when he matures, he has no more desire for drinking his mother’s milk and instead likes to eat rich and tasty things.
Similarly, in the first stages of bhakti, one must respectfully offer praṇāma to the Vrajavāsīs and the devotees that have anurāga for the Supreme Lord. Serve them and stay nearby them. Then gradually you will imbibe their blessings and mercy. You will get spiritual strength and your senses and mind will be controlled, whereupon you will be able to understand and follow vraja-bhakti.
One cannot become a Vrajavāsī by jumping across everything like a monkey. From the beginning, one must chant, offer praṇāma, serve the Vaiṣṇavas, and honor mahā-prasāda. All these activities develop one’s sukṛti. If one follows the footsteps of the mahājanas and surrenders unto them, he can achieve vraja-bhakti.
Mahāprabhu is God Himself, yet still He heard hari-kathā from Rāmānanda Rāya. Is this because He had insufficient knowledge? Another time, Mahāprabhu heard Sārvabhauma Paṇḍita describe Vedānta and the māyāvāda commentary for seven days. During these discussions, Mahāprabhu remained silent. Generally, we see that people cannot tolerate hearing from others for a long time. If they hear anything incorrect, they will argue and fight. Mahāprabhu, on the other hand, listened to Sārvabhauma Paṇḍita and tolerated his mistakes. When people speak, they reveal what they have within, so Mahāprabhu was waiting patiently to see what Sārvabhauma Paṇḍita had within him.
When he finished his explanations, Sārvabhauma Paṇḍita asked, “I’ve said so many things, yet the whole time You remained silent. Why is that?”
“Although you spoke on many verses from the Vedas,” Mahaprabhu replied, “your commentary is like a cloud covering the sun. It is not helpful to anyone and I cannot accept it.”
Mahāprabhu had exceptional tolerance. If you have no tolerance or patience, you cannot bring people close and help them progress. Living entities have so many false conceptions. If you patiently allow them to speak, then afterwards you can help them. If you only speak and speak to people, but do not allow them to clear anything out from inside of them, they will be unable to accept your instructions.
Ordinary people are full of mundane garbage and knowledge. People come from the West and have so many questions. But by asking all these questions, it empties all their doubts out from within, and then they can accept hari-kathā.
Sārvabhauma Paṇḍita was a great ācārya of Vedānta. When he first saw Mahāprabhu, he said to Him, “You are a very young sannyāsī, so how can You control Your senses? You must hear Vedānta, then You will have great spiritual willpower.”
Mahāprabhu heard everything Sārvabhauma Paṇḍita had to say, and then when Sārvabhauma Paṇḍita asked Him to explain what He understood, He replied, “Everything you have described is like darkness. But if that is so, what is light?” Mahāprabhu then went on to describe this verse:
ātmārāmāś ca munayo nirgranthā apy urukrame
kurvanty ahaitukīṁ bhaktim itthaṁ-bhūta-guṇo hariḥ
“All different varieties of ātmārāmas, or those who take pleasure in the ātmā—the spirit self; especially those established on the path of self-realization, though freed from all kinds of material bondage, desire to render unalloyed devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead. This means that the Lord possesses transcendental qualities and therefore can attract everyone, including liberated souls.”
Mahāprabhu gave purports to this verse in so many ways to help people develop a strong platform and realize it themselves.
If a person speaks without realization, it is only speculation. Anything he says is ineffective and cannot help others. However, if you yourself are trying to practice and realize, then you can inspire others to also practice. You can tell them with conviction, “Come here, it is safe here.” But if you try to bribe people to follow something you yourself are not following, no one will hear you.
Many so-called paṇḍitas speak lectures, but have no faith or realization. They only speak to cheat others and collect money. They have no real attraction power.
Any amount of mundane qualities will not provide one a relationship with God. All such qualities are useless. A person engrossed in mundane knowledge is comparable to a donkey who carries heavy loads of food but cannot taste any of it.
First we should try to become realized and related ourselves. Then we can train others without becoming proud.