Part One: The Krsna Conception
The grand tone, the divine tone, the call comes from the higher quarter, the divine quarter: "Awake, arise! Search for your fortune!" And you cannot but have that; it is your birthright, it is the wealth of your own soul. It is there, the relationship with the Highest Divinity. It cannot but be within you! You are His creature; you exist in His connection and relationship. You must have some connection within you. Don't be afraid of your present position; don't be disappointed. In this way, you are to preach to the world at large. "All come! You want rasam anandam, the mellow of delight, the differentiated personification of Krsna in Vrndavana, and that is very magnanimously distributed in Navadvipa, the birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu."
The Krsna conscious conception is the highest conception: the Absolute good, the Absolute beauty, the Absolute autocrat, the Infinite. Vaikuntha in its fullest conception is Goloka. Vaikuntha has no kuntha, that is, no limitation. That is Vaikuntha, the conception of the Infinite. When it is consonant with the Krsna conscious conception, it is considered the highest goal, the Absolute, the autocrat, and the beauty. The good, the beautiful, raso vai sah. Akhila rasamrta murti. All conceptions of rasa are harmonized. The Krsna conception of the Absolute harmonizes different varieties of rasa. Raso vai sah. Akhila rasamrta murti. That is not intelligible by our present senses.
In the Vrndavana proposal, the Infinite is closest to the finite: aprakrta. Aprakrta is where the Infinite has come nearest to the finite beings, as though one of them. When He is so close, so near, no one can easily recognize whether He is infinite or not. Mahaprabhu has suggested to us, "Try for your fortune in Vrndavana. There is such a wonderful process: Nanda and Yasoda, Krsna's father and mother, have captured the Absolute and He is crawling in their compound (aham iha nandam vande yasyalinde param brahma). Try to secure a position there, however negligible it may be. Try your fortune." We are in search of such a fortune, where all other proposals are eliminated.
kam prati kathayitum ise samprati ko va pratitim ayatu
"To whom can I tell it, and who will believe it, that the Supreme Absolute, Param Brahman, the paramour of the damsels of Vraja, is enjoying in the groves on the banks of the Yamuna?" (Padyavali, 98)
It is inconceivable that the Brahman, the greatest, the Absolute, has come to search for the least love of the gopi damsels of the cowherd class. He has approached in such a near and close way, and in such an ordinary, rural style. Try your fortune there.
We are out to do just that, under the guidance of Sri Caitanyadeva, Who is understood to be the combination of the positive and negative aspects of the Absolute. The positive is busy distributing Himself to others. Mahaprabhu is that infinitely and inconceivably generous aspect of the Supreme. Sri Caitanyadeva is both Radha and Krsna combined. He is Krsna in the mood of Radha, searching for Himself. He is both the positive and the negative aspects of the Absolute.
The Sankara school and other impersonalists claim that when the positive and negative combine, the result is a kind of equilibrium. But according to the Vaisnava philosophy, the combination is dynamic. His nature becomes that of searching for Himselfsearching for His own positive self, in the mood of the negative. In that search, He distributes Himself to others. The negative attracts the positive, and the positive is thus distributed to the public. This is the essence of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The intimate associates of the Lord have revealed such a conception, and we shall be able to conceive it according to the intensity and degree of our faith.
Necessity of a Real Agent
Divya darsana, divanbhuti, a divine arrangement must be made, and we must have the help of the sadhus, the saints, who are His bonafide agents. There may be many sham agents also-pseudo agents, sahajiya agents, imitationists. We must go to the real agent. And with his help, by his grace, we will gradually attain our end. Naisam matis tavad urukramanghrim, sprsaty anarthapagamayad arthah. Prahlada Maharaja said: So long as one's mind does not come in contact with the divine feet of the Lord, it is indispensable to get the help of His devotees, His agents, for the elimination of the undesirable elements within us.
Anarthapagamayad arthah. Mahiyasam pada rajo'bhisekam,
Our divine life does not really begin as long as we do not come to the feet of the real master. There it begins: our real progress, real life. Our real advancement towards divinity begins when we get recognition from the agent of the Lord. Some might say, "This is a monopoly, and an autocratic system. God is for everyone, why should some mediator be necessary at all? He is open to all; He knows us all. If we only desire Him sincerely, He will come directly." That may be their conception.
A Proper Guardian Assures Our Future
But I must have a friend, or at the very least, some friendly atmosphere. I must come into such company in whom I can rest all my faith, in whom I can believe and trust. Without this, my life is miserable. By God's infinite grace, some sraddha (faith) should come to us: "It is not that I can only trust and believe, but it is this: I cannot but show my regard to a personality of the higher position, gurum evabhigacet."
When we suffer from uncertainty to the extreme, we shall hanker for connection with the guru, the spiritual master. We cannot only put an enquiry to him with faith and trust, but guru is a guardian who is our well-wisher, more so than we are to ourselves. The guardian is a friend who thinks more of us than we think of ourselves. He knows more about our welfare than we do. That is what it is like to have a guardian, a friend, a guru.
If one commits Vaisnava-aparadha or Nama-aparadha, offenses against the Vaisnava or the Holy Name, one may be detained again and again. It is not such a cheap thing. Still, there is the possibility that when properly guided, a proper soul may attain the highest position in a single life. It is not impossible.
Narottama Dasa Thakura says, asraya lana bhaje tare krsna nahi tyaje: "If we can get a bonafide guardian, our future in spiritual life is assured." Krsna cannot dismiss the guardian very easily, because the guardian has a solid position in the Lord's relationship. If we enter into the domain of our guardian's care, our position will be assured. Our only solace is that we are going through His agent. He's so kind and benevolent that He has sent His agent to recruit us, and that is our hope. We must be thankful for that, and not become traitors to His agent. We must be cautious to see that we do not betray His agent, for thereby we betray ourselves.
Ana saba mare akarana. Others, who have not yet been able to surrender at the holy feet of their guardian or guru, are in an uncertain position, and they may be deviated by any agent. Their future is deplorable. They have no shelter, no asraya. If through our sraddha we can have a real ideal in life and acquire a real guardian, then certainly our future is assured practically. Our only duty will be towards our guardian, our Gurudeva, our asraya, and all other duties will be once and for all automatically accomplished and summarily completed.
To traverse the length and breadth of this wide world, where there is nothing but various types of exploitation of various planes, is to sail as a ship without a rudder that can be swept away by sea storms, endlessly and without purpose or objective. It is through sraddha that we can connect with our highest goal of achievement and fulfillment. First, this problem must be solved-then real life can begin.
Measuring the Infinite
Faith is the only effective link. We must approach the object of our search via a similar plane. We can approach the Infinite only with the help of sraddha. We cannot hope to have any connection with that finest plane of fundamental existence with the help of the eye, nose or ear, or even by intelligence or reason. If we want to have any connection with the finest plane that is underlying this creation, it is possible only through faith (sraddha-mayo 'yam purusah).
Sraddha, faith, can go a long distance. We shall be able to feel and conceive that faith is not merely imaginary; it has its tangible position, a most efficient position within us. When we can disconnect from all phases of perceptual experience, we can live in faith alone. When all the wealth of our experience deceives us and betrays us, our faith will save us.
In the higher type of devotion there is never any desire that Krsna or His associates will come to serve and supply us, or that He will show Himself to us. To impose our whim on Him is not actual service. Whatever He likes to do He may do. And whatever may be required of us, we shall consider ourselves fortunate if we are given the chance to supply it. Exhaustively eliminating all our desires, we are to place ourselves fully at the disposal of the Supreme Lord, Who is never to carry out any order or wish of ours.
By nature, Krsna is eager to supply everything to His devotees (yoga-ksemam vahamy-aham, Gita 9.22). But the higher devotees do not like Him to supply them with anything, or for Him to render service to them. Such is the purity of their devotion. Through their faith, they think, "He is my Lord. I don't want to have His darsana merely to satisfy my lower faculty of perceiving that He exists." It is a very low standard of faith to consider that only if we can see Him, then we shall be satisfied that He exists. We have no capacity to see Him. To make Him our object, keeping ourselves the subject, is a low standard of faith. But higher, intense faith fully proves that He is that wonderful cause of everything. He is present.
Earnest Desire Is The Only Price
And mere formalism may be favorable, but not always. The spirit is all-important, even when crossing every formality. What is required of us is our absolute attraction for service, for beauty. Laws have no status there. In the beginning they have some sort of utility, but when one is a little advanced, one should not care for them, for anything. Only seek sadhu-sanga, adherence to the saints of similar type, a little better than ourselves, our guides in raga-bhajana, those who are in the path of divine love and attraction.
That is the only way. That is the only thing that can guide us. Laulyam, the only price is our laul, earnest desire, nothing else. Krsna bhakti rasa bhavita matih. Ramananda Raya says to Mahaprabhu that if one finds it anywhere, one should try to purchase it. What is that? The pure inclination towards the service of Krsna. The innermost tendency to want Krsna, to get Him, to have Him; the earnest desire to have Him. Anywhere you find that desire, a drop of that divine attraction, try to purchase it for any price. Acquire it! It may be obtained from anywhere or anyone, it does not matter. Kiba vipra kiba nyasi sudra kene naya, yei krsna tattva vetta sei guru haya. A brahmana, a sannyasi, or a sudra who knows Krsna, he is guru.
Wherever there is a drop of that love divine, only try to get it. And what is the price? Earnest desire for it. Laulyam api mulyam ekalam. The only price is earnest desire. It is not to be purchased with any money, nor is it anything that is acquired by so many formal practices in millions of births. Substance is necessary and not the form. Form is required only as much as it may connect us with that real substance, otherwise it is not necessary. Sarva dharman parityajya, give up all phases of duty which you perceive and perfect. At once try to jump in the ocean of nectar. That is the desired teaching. Earnest desire, that is to be acquired; that is bhakti proper.
There are some that want to know about Krsna only from the sastra, scripture. In the almanac it is written that this year so much rain is expected, so much rain will come. But if we press the almanac, will a drop of water ooze out of it? The sastra is like that, something like that. The sastra says do this, do that, but the scripture cannot give us Krsna. First we get the direction, then we practice; we are to do it. We are helpless when searching with this method or that method.
Vaisnava is Higher than Sastra
Faith in the devotees, the Vaisnavas, grants us the most substantial help. Such a position is not flickering, but firm. One who has faith in the Vaisnavas achieves devotion of a tangible character. Otherwise, with only abstract faith in the Lord, without faith in the devotees, we are but beginners in the stage of kanistha-adhikari. This is an unreliable platform. Our devotion reaches a reliable standard when we can develop faith in the devotees, and recognize their importance. The devotees are above even sastra, the scriptures. The tangible stage when our real faith in them develops is the middle stage, madhyama-adhikari.
In the Vaisnava, the truth is animated more than in the vigraha [Deity], the tirtha [holy place of pilgrimage], or the sastra [scripture]. We find a direct connection with Krsna in the consciousness of a Vaisnava. We find that which is regulating all his activities and withdrawing him from worldly attraction, guiding him towards some unknown and most desirable direction. He is moving towards that direction. The Lord is making him move in a particular direction that cannot be traced by any loss or gain of this world. What is that thing? "I am there. I am not even in Vaikuntha, nor in the hearts of the yogis. But where my devotees are singing with pleasure about me, I am there." [Mac citta mad gata prana bodhayantah parasparam kathayantas ca mam nityam tusyanti ca ramanti ca.] "The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me." (Gita 10.9)
Pure Spiritual Attraction
manmana bhava mad bhakto mad yaji mam namaskuru
Krsna says to Arjuna that he is the most favorite devotee. "I promise you that at the very least I won't deceive you. I say that I am everything and I won't deceive you. Manmana bhava, always remember Me, mad bhakto, be My devotee, serve Me. Manmana bhava mad bhakto, mad yaji, if you sacrifice anything, do it for Me. Mad yaji mam namaskuru, or at least show respect for Me. You are sure to enter into Me, to come to Me. Mam evaisyasi, you will come to Me alone; satyam te, this is the truth, pratijane, I promise you. Priyo 'si me, you are My favorite. The truth is this: do everything for Me, attend Me, always think of Me and you are sure to come to Me. This is the plain truth."
That thinking, the life of engagement, is attraction for Him. How do we develop that attraction for Krsna? We get it from the devotee. Superficially we can obtain it from the scripture, but substantially only from the devotee.
Within their heart, within their endeavor, pervading through all their activities, there is a particular attraction and that is a divine thing. We want that. It is the subtlest of the subtle, the nerve structure within. It can move the body. It can help the body to function. We are attracted to the inner energy in the devotee, which makes him do that which we do not find in this world: no attraction for sense pleasure, no attraction for fame, name, or money.
Something else is there: attraction for Krsna. We must follow his guidance. "One who comes to serve Me directly, he is not really My devotee. But one who is devoted to My devotee is My real devotee." What is the meaning? Vaisnava-seva, guru-seva, nama-seva; service to the devotees, the spiritual master, and the Holy Name. "His love for Me is so intense that wherever he finds any external connection with Me, he engages himself fully there."
Real Taste for the Truth
Real taste for the truth will be awakened in our heart. We are safe then, but not before that. When spontaneous taste for the truth awakens within us, we are safe. We can make fair progress from that time. Taste will take us. When we have acquired the taste of sweetness, automatically we shall run towards that which is very sweet. Prior to that, we must remain under the guardian. Until and unless we find that the truth is sweet, that Krsna is sweet, we are not safe in our approach towards Him. So many distractions may take us hither and thither.
Nama-sankirtana is to preach the Holy Name. But what is the Name? The ten offenses against the Name are to be understood and avoided. The external shallow expression of the Name should be eliminated, and the real Name that is one and the same with the Lord, that Name should be taken. That is nama-bhajana, that is kirtana, illuminating the greatness and magnanimity of the Holy Name. The Name Himself is so charming; the Name is the Lord Himself. In this way we practice nama-kirtana. Thereby we can be saved from the external contamination of the forces of karma and jnana, fruitive work and speculative knowledge.
Nama: More Than Mundane Sound
With this attitude we shall have to search for a drop of Vaikuntha nectar. Otherwise it is useless. Die to live. Sacrifice, seva. Seva means deathdeath of the material ego. Seva means to give one's own self to a particular purpose. The seva of Krsna means to give up this mad self, this mundane, concocted self. Try to be saved from our present position. This is not a very laudable thing, our present position; it is a mortal thing, the result of many reactions. So get rid of this shelter. Get out of it, as soon as possible. And enter into the land of confidence and goodness and fairness and sweetness. Try to enter that.
It Is Not So Cheap
For the Name to be Krsna, Krsna has to descend there. Don't be self-deceptive; do not think that in taking the Name we have become great sadhus. It is not like that. Krsna has to come down in the form of the sound to us. He is spiritual; He is transcendental. Sevonmukhe, our complete surrender towards Him will attract Him, and He'll graciously come down to grace us in the form of the Name, in our actions, in performing our duties. At every step He will come.
When we give ourselves to Him, He will accept us. He will embrace us. He'll be within and without us. He is everywhere, but only those with clear eyes can see Him, not those who are captured by any prejudice for selfish ends or ordinary things. Don't be captivated by prejudice. When all prejudice is cleared, directly see the highest principle underlying all. Like so much dust, the tendency for exploitation and renunciation has blinded our eyes and we can't see Him.
Those that are lustful look for the beautiful body. Others only think about business because they love wealth the most. They are always engaged with lust or money; the world of their knowledge is revealed to them. There are such strata. They may boast: I have such power, I have beauty, I have wealth. All is false.
The real backing of spirit is Narayana, the all-pervading, the all-knowing principle, the all-good. These other thoughts are temporary. Our prejudices of so many types have captured us. Those that are liberated from these influences, they'll find that this is the kingdom of Narayana, Who is the support and the guardian of the whole of the world. We see His hand everywhere. Without His direction, nothing can move.
Serve the Name through a Genuine Agent
It is written in the scriptures. If service is not properly done, then we are sure to commit some offenses against the Deity. Either we give satisfaction to Him, or we give some trouble. That is an intolerable way of conducting that holy process. We must guard against nama-aparadha and seva-aparadha. We must not be over-confident of our previous acquisition. We may have acquired so much, our progress may be such, but we must not be proud. We should not be satisfied with ourselves.
Mahaprabhu Himself said, "I am taking the Name, I am showing so much peace, shedding so many tears, in the Name of Krsna. But why? It is all false. My tears are only for show, to convince others that I am such a great devotee." In such a way we must disbelieve that we are devotees. We must be very careful, very, very careful. Kaviraja Gosvami and Narottama Thakura have written thus.
"I am neglected, I am left behind, I am excluded. I am so low; I am so contaminated. I am rejected from the Infinite lila. I could not utilize this great fortunate wave." This should be the feeling of a real Vaisnava who has an actual relationship with the Infinite. As much as the finite comes in contact with the Infinite, the disposition cannot but be affected. It is not imitation; it cannot but be the real thing.
"I am empty, I don't get anything," that should be our mood. "I feel emptiness within me. I can't get it, my life is frustrated. My life is going to be frustrated. I don't get a drop of the grace of the Lord, and I have left the world; everything is gone. If you don't accept me, I am undone. Please make me a servant of the servant of the servant of the servant. Give me the remotest connection. Graciously give me some remotest connection to Yourself. I can't tolerate it otherwise." This heartfelt, heart-rending prayer must come from the devotees of the Lord, then we will find our fortune. The charm for the world outside must be fully eliminated from the heart, fully emptied. And the near future will be filled with the nectar of the grace of Krsna.
Bhukti and mukti, the desires for enjoyment and renunciation are compared with ghosts. These two types of ghosts reside in the heart. So how do we dare to express that bhakti lives in our heart? The noble lady of devotion, will she come there, lying on the same bench with these ghosts? How can we expect that? Have we freed ourselves from all these nasty things that we dare to invite the lady of Krsna-bhakti to come here?
Necessity of True Humility
trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna
"One who is humbler than a blade of grass and more forbearing than a tree, and gives due honor to others without desiring it for himself is qualified to always chant the Holy Name of Krsna." (Siksastaka 3)
Infinite meaning and prospect, the general direction is given thus. Do we take the process of divine sound, to reach that goal by the divine sound? To come to that level we will have to accept such an attitude of humility. Then we will feel that there is a very fine, fine level through which we can reach there. The finest level is there. But we are to accept such an attitude here, then it will be possible, but not by force. There is no necessity of removing a mountain, or to oppose a river current; big things won't be necessary. Only by cultivation of the spiritual sound will we be able to reach the goal.
But we will have to take such an attitude, and we will feel that we have come to a particular, very subtle level. Only through sound can we go there. Our soul can be attracted, connected with that, only if we can saturate ourselves with this trnad api sunicena, taror api sahisnuna.
That means a great deal, it is not an outward statement. If we adopt this sort of mood, we shall have to cross many oceans. Many oceans we shall have to cross, to experience. From our present position of egoistic boasting, we are to go to the lowest level of a blade of grass. We are to go through country after country, plane after plane. Taror api sahisnuna, to reach into that sort of attitude, we will pass on our way so many suns, moons, and earths. Such concrete things we shall have to bid adieu.
Many basic thoughts of the concrete, they have to give way; leave them behind to reach that attitude properly. Amanina manadena. Our connection with the subtle and higher things necessitates that we ignore the concrete, amanina manadena. The plane of life will be changed. The plane will change to where the activity should be, where the energy should be invested; not in this plane-that which we see about us as concrete.
Mahaprabhu is saying: don't assert, forget giving resistance, rather if any resistance comes, try to forbear with the best of your energy. Don't try to intrude upon the physical prospects of others. Manadena, don't give any opposition to them. If we can do this, then we are automatically led to a particular plane. We will find harmony beyond our expectation and our conception. A wonderful thing! Only through the Holy Name we find that Krsna is over-flowing, all-pervading.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami to always remain meek and humble and to always chant the Holy Name.
gramya-katha na sunibe, gramya-varta na kahibe
"Do not talk like people in general or hear what they say. You should not eat very palatable food, nor should you dress very nicely. Do not expect honor, but offer all respect to others. Always chant the Holy Name of Krsna, and within your mind render service to Radha and Krsna in Vrndavana." (C.c. Antya-lila 6.236-7)
We must not attend to worldly talk, neither should we engage in that. Bhala na khaibe ara bhala na paribe, don't seek after the satisfaction of our tongue and belly, and don't try to wear any good dress to be admired by the people. Amani manada hana krsna-nama sada la'be, give honor to all, but don't seek honor from anyone. In this way we will take the Name of Krsna always, continuously.
Vraje radha-krsna-seva manase karibe, internally in our minds we shall try to serve Radha and Govinda in Vrndavana. As we are in Vrndavana, we are serving Radha and Govinda. That will be our mental aspiration. Externally we are to go on, living our life simply in this way: no good dress, no good food, no indulgence in worldly topics-neither speaking nor hearing them, always giving honor to all, and not seeking honor from anyone. In this mood we must go on, kirtaniyah sada harih.
Potency within the Name
The sound must have the divine characteristic. Krsna, Hari, these sounds are nirguna, beyond all material qualities, and divine. Sabdha brahma nama-krsna: vaikuntha nama grahanam asesagha haram viduh (Bhag. 6.2.14). The Name must be of divine characteristic, that which can take away all that is undesirable in us. The Name must have a spiritual conception. It cannot be a mere physical imitation, that which can be produced by lip and tongue alone.
Krsna, Hari, Visnu, Narayana, all these are Vaikuntha nama. It is necessary that they have spiritual existence, which is all in all. They must have spiritual depth, not imitation. Physical imitation is not the Name proper. It is not sabdha-brahmaonly the imitation sound may come out, but not real depth. So Name means Nama-brahma, Nama-Krsna.
The Name must have some spiritual background or spiritual truth that is distributed through the physical sound. The sound is not Krsna, but Krsna is within the sound. The Name must be surcharged with the spirit, and that spirit is not of mundane character. That is not found in the Sankara or Mayavadi (impersonalist) school. Their belief is that although the Name is not confined within the jurisdiction of the physical, still it is only mental, sattva-guna, the material quality of purity. That is also a product of this maya, misconception. That is their misunderstanding.
The potency is within. What type of thought or sentiment is imparted through that sound is the important thing. The Mayavadis have the same mantra, they also chant the Name, but that sort of Name will vanish in Brahmaloka, the highest planetary system in the material universe. They won't be able to cross the Viraja River between the material and spiritual worlds.
Mayavada Nama is like Thunder
We are not enchanted with the outward form; the mere form does not capture us. We are interested in the idea and the step by step gradual development in the conception: what is Viraja, what is Brahmaloka paravyoma? What is Goloka Vrndavana? All these things: karmibhyah parito hareh priyataya vyaktim yayur jnaninas, tebhyo jnana vimukta bhakti paramah premaika nis has tatah. It is said in the sastra that of all types of fruitive workers, the Supreme Lord Hari favors one who is advanced in knowledge of the higher values of life. Out of many such people who are advanced in knowledge, one who is practically liberated by virtue of his knowledge may take to devotional service. He is superior to the others. However, one who has actually attained prema, pure love of Krsna, is superior to him. (Upadesamrta 10)
Understanding this gradation is required: what is Viraja proper, what is Brahmaloka, what is the brahmajyoti or spiritual effulgence, what is Sivaloka, what is Vaikuntha-loka, and then what is Ayodhya, what is Dvaraka, what is Mathura, what is Vrndavana-the realistic view of the whole gradation. Na tatha me priyatama atma yonir na sankarah: "O Uddhava! Neither Brahma, nor Sankara, nor Sankarsana, nor Laksmi, nor even My very Self is as dear to Me as you." (Bhag. 11.14.15) Naivatma [not even Myself], "you are My favorite, Uddhava." How is it possible?
We have to follow the spirit. We are slaves of the truth, beggars of what is flowing down to us from above, the spiritual current, the pure current. The external form does not charm us.