Therefore, O my mind, do not perform wicked deeds, nor endeavour for material gain, worship and name and fame, but always remember the lotus feet of Govinda. By this all dangers will disappear and you will attain great happiness and bliss. This is the supreme process of bhakti. txt.14
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura is saying that we must understand that we have come to this place as refugees. Any activity related to Kṛṣṇa or his bhakta is not asat. We may do many kinds of business, but for whom? If it is not for God, then it is a cheating business. Anything done for God is not my business but God’s business. If we serve God, then there are no problems.
Kṛṣṇa glorified the gopīs to Uddhava:
tā man-manaskā mat-prāṇā mat-arthe tyakta-daihikāḥ
mām eva dayitaṁ preṣṭham ātmānaṁ manasā gatāḥ
ye tyakta-loka-dharmāś ca mad-arthe tān bibharmy aham
The minds of the gopīs always dwell in Me, and their life-airs are always fixed upon Me. For Me they have left everything related to their bodies, giving up worldly happiness, as well as religious principles by which they can secure happiness in the next life. I alone am their dearmost beloved, the object of their minds and the goal of their very lives. Therefore I sustain them always.
There is no use of any speculative or independent activities in the performance of bhakti. Whatever our Guru-varga follows, this is enough for us. Sometimes people think, “Now there is no mahā-bhāgavata present so we must now take the shelter of a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī and take mantra from him.” People wonder if this process is correct or not. In this regard they have many questions and doubts.
Do not worry about this. Anyhow be connected with the Gaṅgā. You have come to the Gaṅgā. Whether the path is unkempt or overgrown or the stairs of the ghāṭa are old and broken, it does not matter. With even just a small amount of faith, if you touch the Gaṅgā, who is brahma-dravatvam-apagaccatī, none other than liquid, flowing transcendence; if you bathe in her waters, or if you live near her, then you will receive knowledge of God’s identity and all chances and facility to meet with mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇavas.
By practicing and chanting the pure mantra, received from a bona fide Vaiṣṇava, a sādhaka will attain siddhi. Then he is called a mahā-bhāgavata. Now, if this mantra is collected from someone who himself is still practicing, that mantra is not the property of that sādhaka. The mantra is the property of God. By chanting the mantra, one will get relation with the mantra-devatā. If you take the mantra from a devotee, that mantra is perfect, siddha, not ordinary, and if you seriously chant it, you will get benefit.
You may go to the holy dhāma, tīrthas or near maha-bhagavatas, but if you have no desire to chant mantra—if you do not have this taste and you don’t try to make relationship with the mantra-devatā, if you have no desire to make sukṛti, then there is no entrance or benefit.
Therefore there is no need of asat-ceṣṭā. Mantra is helpful for our chanting of harināma. We have heard of the nature of Haridāsa Ṭhākura’s chanting. He chanted three lakhs a day. Mananāt trāyate yasmāt tasmān mantraḥ parikīrtitaḥ—that which liberates the mind from all worldly dualities is known as mantra.
Mantra-śakti will control your mind and bring you to harināma, hari-bhakti and the dhāma. If you seriously chant the mantra given to you by Śrī Guru, then you will get strong relationship with the mahā-bhāgavatas, Guru-varga, Ṣaḍ-Gosvāmī, Dvadaśa-Gopāla, Cauṣatti-Mahānta, Aṣṭa-kavirāja, and all the ācāryas. How can it be understood that this is happening? A very sweet desire and greed for hearing hari-kathā and reading the books of the Guru-varga will increase in your heart.
This greed will come first. After, you will become more enthusiastic to chant harināma. Then you will develop attachment to hari-dhāma and hari-jana and never want to leave them.
A kaniṣṭha-adhikārī or a madhyama-adhikari guru is not enough, not everything. On a farm there are many people that do the ploughing and planting, but who will take all the results? A rich person will take it. Poor people don’t take it. The farmers also don’t take it.
In this harināma movement, Mahāprabhu gives this name and the tendency to serve Hari. He gives all facility. After this, there is someone who farms this and distributes it nicely. In this arrangement, if a person desires this mercy and prasādam of Mahāprabhu, then it will surely come to him. It does not matter if he is very far away, somebody will come and bring it to him. Then his spiritual greed will increase, as well as the sweetness of relationship with God and His associates. Therefore, there is no need of any other process.
We hear how Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī did puraścaraṇa. They chanted harināma and gopāla-mantra. Our Guru-varga have also chanted. This is the way to get siddhi. The serious sādhaka will hear about this process and then follow it himself. He will diligently chant his gopāla-mantra, kāma-gāyatrī, gaura-mantra, or gaura-gāyatrī. Then his disease will go.
A sick person must continuously take medicine. A healthy person however, does not need to take medicine. Food and diet is helpful for him. Similarly this mantra is like medicine.
It cleans and removes all anarthas and makes one pure and healthy, meaning a good disposition will come. Then sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgavata-śravaṇa, mathurā-vāsa, śrī-murti-sevā, and all the other limbs of bhakti will be very easy.
Before taste comes, medicine is needed. This medicine is the serious chanting of guru-mantra, gaura-mantra, and gaura-gāyatrī, kṛṣṇa-mantra, and kāma-gāyatrī. Also for men there is the brahma-gāyatrī.
These are veda-mantras. In the Gopāla-tāpanī-upaniṣad, the gopāla-mantra is explained. Also in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī gives an elaborate deliberation on kāma-gāyatrī
If someone, having received mantra, wishes to make closer relation with that mantra and mantra-devatā, then he must seriously chant it daily. Then he will be cured of all disease and freed from his anarthas. Once free, his taste will increase. Apart from mantra-śakti, nothing is helpful. This is not asat-ceṣṭā.
Sometimes certain people think, “I have no taste for harināma. I have no bona fide guru. I have taken dīkṣā from someone who is not an uttama-adhikārī, for this chance is no longer available. My life is useless.”
Sometimes we see that our ācāryas take dīkṣā from a family man. Yadunandana Ācārya was a family man, but Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī took initiation from him. Also harināma and dīkṣā is first admission into the school of paramārtha. You think that you can go to the principal of a famous school and if you submit yourself to him, he will teach you a-b-c. But he will not teach you the alphabet. You learn the alphabet from a tutor in a baby school.
Where is your adhikāra? If a baby goes and sits in a Master’s class, he will not be able to understand anything. Thinking that I can go to a mahā-bhāgavata and receive all benefit to be had from him in one day is speculation. Everything will be right when you grow strong by gradually progressing step by step.
A person may think that if he goes to a mahā-bhāgavata and receives his mercy then he himself will also be a mahā-bhāgavata, but this is not possible. Sādhana-bhakti is necessary. If ordinary people meet a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī they can benefit. They will learn something. After, progressing to the next stage, a person can have the chance to associate with a madhyama-adhikārī. When this stage too is passed then he may meet an uttama-adhikārī. This is the arrangement of God.
Where is the mahā-bhāgavata present? He is present with vāṇī-vaibhava, in śāstra. Finding taste in reading śāstra will soon bring about realization. When there is realization, then one can understand śāstra as it is. Otherwise if you give a new person Śrī Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta, Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi, or Vilāpa-kuṣumāñjali, he will not understand anything. What is necessary first is God’s own advice—the seven hundred verses of Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, where we find knowledge of the soul and an understanding of why we have lost millions and millions of lives in māyā.
Arjuna had good friendship with Kṛṣṇa and was with Him after suffering all the torments of the Kurus, his so-called relatives. They had disturbed his mother, brothers and wife in so many ways; like poisoning Bhīma, burning their residence, stealing their kingdom, and even trying to make Draupadī naked in a public assembly. Arjuna was at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, but then he said, “O Kṛṣṇa, I wish to see my relatives. I want to see who has come to fight with me.”
Then, when Arjuna looked at them, he lost his memory, and intelligence and he said, “I cannot do this. Let them try to kill me, but I will not fight them. They are my relatives.”
Kṛṣṇa tried again and again to teach them that if anyone is against dharma, they are not really one’s relatives. If Arjuna didn’t give them punishment then they would never change and would also disturb others, continuing to destroy everything. Punishment is absolutely necessary for such persons. But they could not understand.
The Bhagavad-gītā discusses this. First, how can one cross māyā? How can one’s conception of family and all other illusions leave and one’s mind be engaged in worshipping Kṛṣṇa? How can one offer himself to Kṛṣṇa?
man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te pratijāne priyo ’si me
Offer your heart and mind to Me; become My devotee by serving me; simple heartedly worship Me with determination, and offer obeisance to Me. In this way, you will surely come to Me. I give you my promise because you are very dear to Me.
If the jīvas do not follow Kṛṣṇa’s advice, and try to run and read Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi, Vilāpa-kuṣumāñjali, and other such books, then they will definitely have an enjoying mood and will deal with these writings as stimulus for their recreation and sense gratification. They will be unable to cross māyā.
Therefore Mahāprabhu taught everybody harināma-sankīrtana, Ekādaśī, Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, tulasī-pūjā, and relation with Vaiṣṇavas.
Many devotees chanted harināma and heard Śrī Advaita Ācārya’s classes on the Bhagavad-gītā. Sometimes Advaita Ācārya Prabhu gave classes on the Bhāgavatam. He explained how to develop and nurture relation with the Vaiṣṇavas who are our only real friends and family members. This is not asat-ceṣṭā.
If, following one’s own desire, a person goes to a mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇava and tries to follow his footsteps, he will be cheated with māyā. He has too much affection and attraction with his body and mind.
If a person is sick and has diarrhea, giving him food will not be helpful for him. He will be unable to digest it. It is better for that person to fast for some time, take medicine and a little juice or something simple. Once he is healthy, he can eat everything.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says, na kariha asat-ceṣtā lābha pūjā pratiṣthā, sadā cinta’ govinda-caraṇa. Do not do wicked deeds and hanker for name, gain and adoration, and always remember Govinda’s lotus feet.
An honest lady follows her husband and never thinks about any other man. There may be many fine gentlemen and handsome men, but she never thinks about them. She is not restless. Why? She is fully satisfied with her own husband who is very good to her. Others may have more physical beauty but she doesn’t think about them.
n his Govinda-bhaṣya, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa Prabhu states that many persons desire results that appeal to their own comfort or what they feel themselves is most beneficial for them, but this is not a correct conception. God knows what is good for us and what is bad for us.
karmaṇy evādhikāras te mā phaleṣu kadācana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅgo ’stv akarmaṇi
You have the right to only carry out work prescribed to you, but never become an enjoyer of the fruits produced by your labour. Do not think yourself as the cause or reason for reward, nor should you become inclined to neglecting your duties.
You are given the right to work, but the result, be it good or bad, is in the hands of God. He knows what results to give, what is most helpful for your situation. But if you have desire for the fruits of your work and you try to independently steal them and go distance from God, then those fruits will cheat you.
The ekāntika-bhakta whose heart has been stolen by Govinda is never independent. He is always worshiping and serving and never desires the fruits of action. His mind never goes here and there.
As a chaste and honest lady who faithfully follows her husband, the ekantika-bhaktas’ hearts have been stolen by Govinda and they cannot think of anyone else. They do not endeavour to enjoy sense gratification. They are uninterested in any other form of dharma and are not in pursuit of any karma or jñāna. If any disturbance comes they remain unflinchingly as Hari’s complete followers.
Śrī Guru gives initiation to so many disciples and those disciples naturally stay with particular senior disciples. They all respect Gurudeva. They all have faith for Gurudeva, but for their learning, management and care, Gurudeva inspires them to associate with different Vaiṣṇavas. After some time they will progress more and more and one day be able to closely associate with Gurudeva.
This example is shown in the life of Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. He first had the association of Haridāsa Ṭhākura, Advaita Ācārya, Yadunandana Ācārya, Balarāma Ācārya, and other ācāryas. After, he advanced and attained the association of Nityānanda Prabhu, then Gadādhara Paṇḍita and then Mahāprabhu Himself. Mahāprabhu did not accept him but He sent him to Svarūpa Dāmodara. Then from Svarūpa Dāmodara he came to the shelter of Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī.
If there is always strong desire to perform sādhana-bhakti, then progress will come.
Do not think that you can jump across everything—all stages, standards, progressions and classifications of bhakti, like Hanumān leaping to Laṅkā. It is not so easy to go to a mahā-bhāgavata, get siddhi and then be a mahā-bhāgavata also.
Anywhere you go, you bring with you your karma, sukṛti, and duṣkrti. Therefore, from the very first stage, if you have strong desire to perform sādhana-bhakti—if you always are thinking, “How can I chant continuously? How can I chant mantra seriously? How can I be active and able for devotional service?” and you endeavour for these things, then this is called sādhana-bhakti.
Of this bhakti, there are two types. One is vaidhī-bhakti-sādhana, and one is rāgānuga-bhakti-sādhana. If you follow the anurāgamaya Vrajavāsīs and especially the Vraja-devīs—if you follow the movement of Mahāprabhu—then you will attain attachment, relation and anurāgamayī-bhakti.
If you follow vaidhī-bhakti, then you will be a Bābājī. If you try to run off and try to do bhajana alone in a cave, the forest or some solitary place, you will never receive anurāga.
If one has anurāga, he will associate with and have affection for the bhaktas and Vaiṣṇavas. From there, he can progress into being eternally situated with God and his associates in Vraja-maṇḍala. This is the process. The sādhaka must give all his time for God. He must consider, “How many hours am I giving God? How many hours am I using for myself?”
I have twenty-four hours. How many hours do I use for God and how much time do I use for myself?
Mahāprabhu said we must practice, and be one day able to use all our time for bhakti. Chant sixty-four rounds and six hours will go. First try to offer six hours to God every day, and no less. After, eight hours. After, ten hours. In this way, gradually come to the point of using every moment for God and His pleasure. Then time will not separate you from attaining siddhi. Time will no longer be in the way of anurāga. In other words, it will very quickly come to you.
If you save the best of your time for sleeping, in the morning, afternoon, and evening, how will you ever achieve perfection? I only eat, sleep, and pass away the day and night. This is my business. This is not the process to attain anurāga.
If you have desire for lābha, pūjā, and pratiṣṭhā, then if someone insults or teases you then you stop chanting harināma, or stop sevā saying, “Oh! If you think you can do it better, then you do it.” If nobody likes what I cook, then I say, “Fine! I will not cook anymore!” If I do any service and someone does not like it, then I stop that service and become very disturbed. In this way I suffer.
What will be the result of this? If I have desire for anartha, that which has no value, then I will surely collect anarthas, that which is valueless.
If a person walks alone on the bank of the Gaṅgā, he may mistakenly try to walk on an area with green grass, beneath which is water and mud and not dry land, and thus fall in. But if he was with the devotees, they would guide him properly because they know the area and can identify the danger. With them, a person can progress without any problem. If a person does not want to proceed like this, then he will fall down.
The sādhus and Vaiṣṇavas do not have mundane natures. They do not hanker for sense enjoyment. They can walk on the sand and avoid the treacherous green grass.
Some think that bhajana is very easy. They think that they can do whatever they want and it will be bhajana and bhakti. But the sādhus say, “No.” From the first day, one must be serious. If there is no seriousness then the continuous chanting of harināma will not be possible. A person who is not serious will say, “I have no time to chant harināma or mantra.” That person will find asat-saṅga appealing like green grass on the bank of the Gaṅgā. He will be attracted, but when he goes close, bewildered by seemingly sweet words, all his time will be stolen.
In the realm of asat-saṅga he will become popular and famous. He will call others who do not chant harināma or perform any bhakti, and waste their time as well as his following the whims of their minds. “Oh, today there is this program. Tomorrow we will do this. Oh, you must come to this function. The governor is coming and you must give him a garland. Oh, you must do social work.”
If you follow this, when will you chant harināma? When will you serve God. When will your anurāga increase and bring you beyond māyā?
Your boat is being tossed in the turbulent flow of deep water. You have been swept away by the current of māyā.
In the presence of name, fame, and popularity, this is one’s condition. One will lose everything if he allows this situation to come to him. His boat will be tossed up and down by these big waves until it capsizes and sinks, never to rise again.
When the danger of such a situation comes, one must seriously avoid it, chant very deeply, and pray to the Guru-varga:
pratiṣṭhāśā dhṛṣṭā śvapaca-ramaṇī me hṛdi naṭet
kathaṁ sādhu-premā spṛśati śucir etan nanu manaḥ
sadā tvaṁ sevasva prabhu-dayita-sāmantam atulaṁ
yathā tāṁ niṣkāśya tvaritam iha taṁ veśayati saḥ
O my mind, how can pure love of Rādha and Kṛṣṇa appear in my heart as long as you let the shameless dog-eater woman of the desire for prestige audaciously dance there? Therefore, without waiting any longer remember and serve the supremely powerful generals of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s army, the very intimate devotees of the Lord. They will at once banish this outcaste woman and initiate the current of pure vraja-prema in my heart.
The dog-eating prostitute of the desire for position and adoration dances in my heart and does not wish to go away. I also cannot leave her. I feel I must help the people who glorify and respect me. Without me they will be hopeless and disturbed. They will leave bhakti if I am not with them. I have patience in my care for them.
Is this called tṛṇād-api-sunīca? No! Tṛṇād-api-sunīca does not mean that in the name of tolerating everything my harināma stops, I stop serving the Guru-varga, I neglect the hari-bhaktas and make propaganda with mundane people for arranging my publicity and attendance in a great procession. If I go on processions then I am a professional. I am a businessman. This is not tṛṇād-api sunīca. This is my desire to enjoy; the desire for pratiṣṭhā.
This is what steals my heart and takes me away from Govinda’s lotus feet.
If anyone is interested in their own welfare, then they will be wary of obstacles to bhajana. They must distance themselves from these disturbances and never look back at them again. Then smaraṇa of Govinda is possible.
If I remember God every day but today I decide to go for some social work, then I will be lost. Once the flow of māyā comes inside me, it will not come out. Therefore, there is no need.
It is the same with bhagavad-cintā. If under the shelter of an anurāgamayī-bhakta you think of God’s glories and God’s service, then gradually anurāga will come to you and never leave. That great devotee will protect you and not let you fall into any dangerous situation.
Srila Narottama das Thakur ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Sri Prema-Bhakti Candrika”. Available from [email protected] )