O mind, do not commit sin because a sinner is most fallen. Give up such bad association from a distance. Although piety is an abode of mundane happiness, do not endeavor for it. Abandon both the desires for accumulating piety and attaining salvation.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says—pāpe nā kariha māna. People always have desire for sinful work and when they cheat people they clap and say, “Oh! I have done something very good today. I cheated this person.”
If anyone has faith for God he will not act like this. He will think, “I have done such great wrong.” They repent. He will lament and pray to God for mercy. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.27–28) it is said:
jāta-śraddho mat-kathāsu nirviṇṇaḥ sarva-karmaṣu
veda duḥkhātmakān kāmān parityāge ’py anīśvaraḥ
tato bhajeta māṁ prītaḥ śraddhālur dṛḍha-niścayaḥ
juṣamāṇaś ca tān kāmān duḥkhodarkāṁś ca garhayan
If a person whose faith in listening to narrations of Me has been aroused cannot give up sense gratification and the desire for it, even though he understands it gives suffering, he should sincerely condemn his inability to renounce it. At the same time, he should go on worshipping Me with firm conviction, faith, and love.
He who has śraddha, knows he did wrong, and criticizes himself.
kṛṣṇa-kathā śraddhā-lābha tyaje karmāsakti
duḥkhātmaka kāma-tyāge tabu nahe śakti
kāma-sevā kare tāhā kariyā garhaṇa
sudṛḍha-bhajane kāme kare vidhvaṁsana
puṇyamaya kāma-mātra uddiṣṭa ethāya
pāpa-kāme śraddhadhānera ādara nā haya
He understands and prays, “I have performed many sinful activities, Oh God, please forgive me, I am very sad. Please punish me if you like, I do not want to do more wrong.”
He prays, “I have stolen others’ wealth, and had envy for them, wanting to take their wives. I am always burning in the fires of my different desires and I perform so many sinful activities. I’m a very sinful person. I don’t know how to give this up and become clean. My mind and senses are uncontrolled and I run here and there suffering.” One after the other he performs these sinful activities. He tries to cover or hide his own sins and externally appear like a pious man, but nothing can be hidden from God. God knows everything. This duplicitous nature—no one can hide this. One should openly pray to God with an open heart, God will then order for your deliverance and send many people to quickly give you treatment. He may make a public announcement of your sins for your own benefit. That would be much better. If one does many things wrong and no result comes then one may think, “This is not bad.”
Duryodhana was doing wrong every day and Bhiṣma Pitāmaha said nothing. Droṇācārya never said he was doing wrong, but if Arjuna did a little wrong he would immediately be punished. Yudhiṣṭhira was also punished. Bhiṣma Pitāmaha and Droṇācārya were externally against them and it was like they were ready to kill them, but what is the meaning? Did they do anything wrong? They were always reminded that they were the servants of Hari and the devotees of Hari should not be worried about their kingdom; they need only have unflinching faith in God. Kṛṣṇa said, “Anyone on the side of adharma is not one’s relative or guru.”
guror apy avaliptasya kāryākāryam ajānataḥ
utpatha-pratipannasya parityāgo vidhīyate
Mahābhārata, Udyoga Parva 179.25
A spiritual master who is absorbed in sense enjoyment, who is foolish with no capacity to discriminate between correct and incorrect behavior, and who is following a path devoid of śuddha-bhakti, is a false guru. One should give him up immediately.
One may be a so-called guru, but by making friendship with someone against dharma, one cannot get benefit. Such a person is not a guru. However, these people never attacked or punished Duryodhana. They knew that his sin would accumulate, and he would not be able to protect himself.
If there is a small speck of dirt on clean cloth it will be washed quickly, but if cloth is very dirty it will be thrown out and burnt.
If any devotee comes and prays to God for forgiveness, with a mood of repentance, this is called prāyaścitta, and he is immediately forgiven. Prāyascitta in bhakti must always be performed in a prayerful mood like this.
One should understand his fallen condition. This inspiration comes from sādhus and is greatly helpful. If one hides his diseases from the doctor, then the doctor cannot give medicine. One should openly say, “I have this disease.” Then the doctor can give some treatment. Operation can immediately be done. Even though it may feel painful, it is very helpful. If one comes to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas and prays, “I am so fallen and sinful,” soon they will no longer suffer.
A question is asked. Why do sādhus sometimes seemingly perform sinful acts? By going and meeting with fallen and sinful people one takes a share of all their sin. For example, one time a sādhu in the night of the winter season came to the house of a villager and the villager welcomed him saying,
“You are suffering out in the cold. Please come inside and I will give you a room, blanket, food, and water. Rest for the night and when the sun rises you can leave.” The householder gave him a warm blanket and brought the sādhu beside the fire, because he was shivering due to the cold. Gradually his cold left and nice food was brought to him. He ate and then rested. A sādhu’s nature is to wake and rise early in the morning before brahma-muhūrta. He woke up and then collected the blankets and tied them into a bundle, and he saw some wristwatches and gold rings lying around the room. He took them all, put it in his cloth, bound it, and walked away with everything. In the morning the family members woke up after sun rise and they saw that the sādhu had stolen the blankets, rings, watches, and everything valuable from room. They thought, “This sādhu is not a sādhu, he’s a great thief. We served and helped him, and he stole everything of value we had. We will go and find him and if we catch him, we will beat and imprison him.”
They searched but could not find him. At noon he came back himself. He had walked a long distance, passed stool, bathed, and chanted his gāyatrī-mantras. Then he thought, “Why did I bring this cloth? Why did I bring these rings and watches? Why did my nature change? He left to take everything back. When he came to the village at noon, the villagers who had all been searching for him, caught him, and exclaimed, “The sādhu came! We caught the sādhu! Let’s beat him!”
A village elder then said, “Don’t beat him. He has returned himself. Let’s ask why.”
The sādhu then asked the members of the house he stayed at, “I came in your house last night and you fed me. Please tell me where that food came from?”
The householder said, “Last night someone came and gave me some rice and dahl, and I cooked this for my family.”
The sādhu asked, “Who gave you this? Someone had stolen it and given it to you and then you gave it to me. Because of eating this stolen food, my nature became like a thief and as a result I stole your possessions.”
Any spot of color can be seen if anyone is wearing a white cloth. A sādhu’s heart is clean. He had eaten the food of a thief, and therefore his nature temporarily changed. But now he gave everything back and left.
Family members have business for enjoyment and recreation. They will give love, affection, and many presentations to you. They will sweetly talk to you. But if you accept what they have to offer, then you will suffer from the poisonous effects. You die if a poisonous snake bites you. But anything the family members give will destroy many lives. Try to escape such situations. If you think, “I am a bona fide scholar. I can go and meet anyone without any problem. I can accept donations and gifts, and save them for myself.” However, you should know that this will be like a great fire. Many small worms go and fly into a fire thinking it is some sweet nectar. People collect a lot of donations and think they are great collectors, but this poison touches them and makes their heart impure like a hodgepodge. This is asat-saṅga, bad association. There are big factories were people kill animals, cut them, separate the meat from the bones, and pack them. They suffer so much and therefore they come to sādhus to give donations and charity.
If anyone eats food purchased by sinful charity they will at once realize the bad effect. This is great poison.
There is an example illustrating this point in the life of Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, when they were in Jagannātha Purī. From time to time, Raghunātha would invite Mahāprabhu for prasādam and he would serve Mahāprabhu and His associates. Mahāprabhu would come and accept prasādam, but after a couple years Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī stopped inviting Mahāprabhu. Mahāprabhu asked Svarūpa Dāmodara,
“Why does Raghunātha not invite Me anymore?”
“He says, that You take as an obligation but are not really happy.”
“Yes, he knows My mind.”
viṣayīra anna khāile malina haya māna
malina māna haile nahe kṛṣṇera smaraṇa
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 6.278
When one eats food served by a mundane person, one’s mind becomes impure, and when the mind is impure one is unable to contemplate on Kṛṣṇa.
After the Mahābhārata war was finished, Kṛṣṇa and the Pāṇḍavas headed by Yudhiṣṭhira came to see Bhiśma Pitāmaha as he was lying on top of the bed of arrows. Kṛṣṇa asked Bhiṣma to give some advice and he began speaking. At that time Draupadi began to smile, trying to hide her face behind her veil. Bhiṣma asked her why she was smiling, and she replied humbly, “You are about to give advice but where were you when I was being disrobed in the meeting hall? Duryodhana and Duṣāsana were abusing me and trying to strip me naked. They tried to make me sit on their laps but you could not give any advice at that time. And now you have become such a great advisor?”
Bhiṣma replied, “Manuṣya artha ka dāsa artha manuṣya ka dāsa nahi.” He said, “I ate the food of that sinful person Duryodhana and then, my brain became defeated. I took their money and food and then I was controlled by them. For many days now I have been lying on top of this bed of arrows and all the blood has left my body. I wanted to drink some water and Duryodhana brought something but I would not take it. Arjuna brought the Gaṅgā here and I took her water. Now that there’s nothing of Duryodhana’s left in my body, I am clean. Anything I say now will be pure.”
Hari-kathā and hari-kīrtana is not possible to be performed by someone who has taken all these sinful things. One should be careful about what he eats. One should take mādhukarī-bhikṣa. The Guru-varga tell us to go and take mādhukarī. We are told to take a little rice, or some food that is just enough to maintain our bodies. We should not take too much. If one takes too much then great trouble comes in the life of the practitioner.
The sādhu should remain apart from materialistic people. But if the sādhus don’t help, people cannot progress. But they should be very neutral. They should do everything carefully. One sādhu went to bathe in a river and there was a scorpion in the water. He picked up the scorpion and it bit his hand and the scorpion fell. He picked it up again and it bit him again. He picked it up again and it bit him again. Someone nearby said, “Why are you trying to help it? Can’t you see the scorpion’s nature is to sting and it will never stop?” The sādhu replied, “It’s nature is to bite me and my nature is to try and help him.”
Sādhus have power. But remember, don’t think you are the greatest sādhu. Understand your own position.
One should not consider sins or piety. Don’t consider heaven or hell, there is no need. If rules and regulations are not favorable for kṛṣṇa-bhajana, then give them up. If you ever perform some sin by mistake, pray to Kṛṣṇa and He will forgive you and give you shelter.
prema-bhakti-sūdha-nidhi tāhe dūba niravadhi
āra jata kṣara nidhi prāya
niraṅtara sūkha pābe sakala saṅtapa jābe
para-tattva karile upāya
Prema-bhakti is like an ocean of nectar. Always remain immersed in that ocean. Everything else is like a salty ocean. By this you will attain endless joy and all your miseries will go away. This is the way to attain the Supreme Truth.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura explains what prema-bhakti-sūdha-nidhi is. Prema-bhakti is nectar. It is very sweet. By drinking and showering in this nectar, you will feel great happiness. Everything else is like a salty ocean. Aside from prema-bhakti, collect nothing else. This is the tendency of svarūpa-śakti.
When the living entities are extremely fortunate they come in the association of pure devotees and begin to follow devotional life. When objects of sense gratification come to them, they will never accept them. If one has desire for sense enjoyment, then he will not come to the side of God and perform devotional service. He can never be happy. In Śrīmad-Bhagavatam (10.10.18) it is said:
sādhūnāṁ sama-cittānāṁ mukuṇḍa-caraṇaiṣiṇām
upekṣyaiḥ kiṁ dhana-stambhair asadbhir asad-āśrayaiḥ
Sādhus think of Mukuṇḍa constantly and they have no other desire. Why should one neglect such association to take shelter of materialists, who are non-devotees, most of whom are proud and rich?
If one has a desire for the lotus feet of Mukuṇḍa, one will not collect wealth, or have bad association, and waste his time. By wasting time one gets a bad fruit. Wasted time comes back to bite us. If one does not perform bhajana and follow bhakti, his time is only being wasted. Bad karma will return with a fearsome result. It will come back with interest.
Bhakti and bhajana also give a good fruit, and if the sādhaka does not take this, it will accumulate and create a nice balance. Ordinary people do bad activities and think they will not get any reaction by going and bathing in the holy river, giving charity, performing sacrifices, chanting mantras, and doing some spiritual activities. However, it is not like that. On one side you are doing good work and on the other you are doing bad work, both are present and both fruits will come. In other words one will get a good fruit from his piety and a bad result from his sins. Piety does not negate sin. That is what prāyaścitta is for. The sādhaka does not consider doing good or bad, but only acts for the happiness of God. Then all his results are reserved and balanced with God. There will be no loss then.
If one performs sinful work, or pious activities, the result will come back to him. However, if one surrenders unto God, then his karma will not affect him. If our karma is present with God, then He knows how to help us best. He will give our reactions according to the necessity and time.
What is the meaning of bhakti-svarūpa? Bhakti gives pure existence and pure knowledge. This knowledge is connected with svarūpa-śakti. She makes us connected with svarūpa-śakti. She gives divya-jñāna, and is the embodiment of bliss. The question is asked, “Why does doubt ever come?” Bhakti is entirely composed of unending bliss; still, why do the living entities have doubt towards this? Where does this doubt come from? People follow bhakti, but they have some doubt. Sometimes, this doubt comes because they touched something of māyā. Therefore, they must be very careful. Someone gives a cloth, or a coin, or some food; this is like food poisoning. By taking this one becomes restless and suffers. Sarvasvaṁ gurave dadyāt: offer everything to the spiritual master (Sanatkumāra Saṁhitā 104). Very carefully take only what is absolutely necessary to maintain your life and pray to Kṛṣṇa, “Please forgive and protect me.”
The devotees should very carefully remain in the shelter of svarūpa-śakti and always pray for protection. Prema-bhakti is a sudhā-nidhi, an ocean of nectar. Touching it or tasting it once will increase a desire to relish it even more.
pañcama puruṣārtha sei prema-mahā-dhana
kṛṣṇera mādhurya-rasa karāya āsvādana
premā haite kṛṣṇa haya nija bhakta-vaśa
premā haite pāya kṛṣṇera sevā-sukha-rasa
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 7.144-145
Pure prema, love of God, is so high that it is accepted to be the fifth goal of human life. By this prema one can taste the mellow of conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa becomes controlled by the prema of His own devotees. If prema awakens in the heart of a devotee, he achieves the bliss of serving Kṛṣṇa.
Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes that the pañcama-puruṣārtha is kṛṣṇa-bhakti and it reveals Kṛṣṇa’s mādhurya, beauty, and nectar. Kṛṣṇa is controlled by this prema-bhakti. How can this continuously be followed? By Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.
Narottama das Thakur ki Jaya! (excerpted from “Prema Bhakti- Chandrika”; available from firstname.lastname@example.org )