This material world is a plane of exploitation, where the noose of lust is ready to hang me. Call out to the servants of Hari and remain in the association of the bhaktas, engaging in hearing and discussing the topics of love of God. Then, all dangers will be destroyed.
When one starts the process of harināma–saṅkīrtana, many unfavorable elements may come. Dacoits and demigods alike will try to halt your progress. Many anarthas may become apparent. At this time one should continue to call out for the mercy of the great servants of Śrī Hari. There are three personalities who have been awarded the title Haridāsa. Yudhiṣṭhira, Uddhava, and Girirāja Govardhana have been mentioned as Haridāsa in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. But the most prominent Haridāsa’s are the Vrajavāsīs. In the Caitanya Bhāgavata Vṛndāvan dāsa Ṭhākura writes that all the Vrajavāsīs are servants.
alpa kari nā māniha dāsa hena nāma
alpa bhāgye dāsa nāhi kare bhagavān
Caitanya Bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 17.105
Do not think that servant implies someone who is unimportant. The Lord will not accept anyone as a servant if he has no good fortune.
Chant and remember them and by their influence all thieves and dacoits will run away. They will not disturb or make problems for our bhajana. The nine-fold process of sādhana-bhakti will be simple and easy. To perform navadhā-bhakti–sādhana, one should seek out followers of the mañjarīs. Sajātīyāśaye snigdhe sādhau saṅgaḥ svato vare—one should associate with devotees who are situated in the same mood, who are soft-hearted and affectionately disposed, and who are more advanced than oneself. This is sādhana-bhakti. I will reside with anyone who is helpful for the growth of my bhakti. Then I will never be in danger. I will remain under their impenetrable protection. All will be cool and favorable. All solutions to problems will automatically come. In their saṅga do constant śravaṇa and kīrtana. If one associates with these types of bhaktas then hari–kathā will always be running. The sādhaka will continually drink this nectar and his soul will become very strong. This is the only food for the soul.
How many wife, sons, and children have died already? Countless thousands and thousands, therefore be wary! We have been slain by material sense gratification and have not served the lotus feet of Hari, apart from whom we have no deliverance. Text 17
Jīvas come to this world and receive a body in one of the eighty-four lakhs species of life. To fulfill their desire God gives the jīva friends, wife, children, parents, servants, and property of this world. Attachment to these objects immediately develops and as a result the jīva separates himself even further from God. These attachments become the most important possession for the baddha-jīva. He wastes all of his time and energy in trying to please these relatives. Because the jīva is too attached to his own enjoyment, he lacks the capacity to engage all his possessions and dependents in the service of God. Our Ācārya-varga sometimes tells a story. Once a person learned the practice of exorcism and was able to summon a ghost. He told that spirit, “You will be my follower.”
The ghost replied, “Yes, I agree to this on one condition. You must always keep me busy and engaged in some activity. I cannot sit idle for even one second. If you fail to give me constant engagement I will use my powers to kill you.” So much work was given to this ghost to make sure there was not even a second of inactivity. But this ghost by his powers quickly completed all tasks assigned in a matter of seconds and immediately demanded more work. This man became very disturbed and afraid for his life. Finally after all the tasks he could possibly think of had been completed and nothing else remained he told that ghost, “Arrange a large bamboo pole. Rub oil on it to make it slick and then stick it in the ground. Then your task is to climb up and down this bamboo over and over. In the meantime if I am in need of anything else I will call you.” This man was very clever. He protected himself in this way. Similarly, according to their desires, God gives the jīvas relatives, children, and subjects. But these relatives become like this ghost, constantly demanding attention and energy. The helpless jīva does not have the power or intelligence to engage these dependents. As long as these relatives are not engaged in the service of God they will always be a disturbance on the path of bhajana for an aspiring sādhaka. If they anyhow become engaged twenty-four hours a day in God’s service, then all will favorable. But if we accept them and try to engage them for our own enjoyment this is a big fault and we will be guilty. The result will be that these family members will arrest and control us, giving constant punishment.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has written, “Artha-lābha ei āśe kapaṭa vaiṣṇava veśe bramiya bhulaya ghare ghare—desiring wealth I took the attire of a Vaiṣṇava, disguised myself, and began moving door to door.” Laya sādhu veśa anya upadeśa. Dressed as a sādhu I wonder around and give others advice. Yet I myself cannot follow anything in my own life. I am thus a great hypocrite. I am dividing my senses and mind from God to satisfy my own selfish purposes and for the happiness of others. I will go to them acting as a teacher, but only with desire for name and fame. The end result of this deceitful practice will be that my love and energy is going to ordinary persons. Eventually that person will become my authority and guardian. He will then give me advice and instructions and by hook and crook he will enjoy me. Prahlāda says that they are dacoits and cheaters. These are not real family members. The attachment for viṣāya–bhoga is a disease for which there is no cure. This poison will affect us life after life, bringing constant lust, darkness, and hellish conditions.
Anyone who is not God’s followers, who will not help me in the service of God, they are my so-called family members. I have no affiliation with them. They are of no value to me. They may die one hundred times over and over and I will not have any problem. Those who are mahat, great devotees, can connect me to greatness and are thus my real family members. I pray to God, “May I never forget my true family.”
Srila Narottama das Thakur ki Jaya! (Excerpted from a Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Sri Prema-Bhakti Candrika”. Available from: [email protected] )