In the recent controversies amongst some of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, those who present isolated and unusual examples of preaching as the rule, rather than as the exception to the proper Gaudiya conception, have simply increased the level of confusion. In particular the subject of the necessity of proper adhikara (qualifications) for hearing higher confidential topics regarding the Lord's lila has been greatly minimized by trying to establish the exception as the rule.
The so-called followers of rasika-gurus have written, "The highest good can be obtained by anyone who faithfully hears krsna-katha from a bona-fide rasikacarya." They then cite Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura in an attempt to justify the hearing of confidential lilas by the unqualified: "A person averse to hearing these lilas will never attain perfection. I refuse to hear his name." What they fail to state, however, is that Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura, does not say that one who is unqualified to hear such pastimes must hear, or should hear such pastimes. Being averse to hearing the Lord's lilas and being properly qualified to hear the Lord's pastimes are two completely different things. One rejects hearing the lila of Krsna due to the preference of being engaged in maya, illusion, while the latter is concerned with proper qualifications before hearing the Lord's confidential pastimes so as not to make any offense.
In this regard, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has stated:
paramatma-tattva-jnanai prema-rupa prayojana, taha krsna-caritre dui prakare askita haiyacche / saksat rasasvada anvayarupe dainandina nitya-lilaya paibe / tahai asta-kaliya lila / asura-maranadi-lilaya vyatireka rupe krsna-tattva jana yaya / putana-vadha ihate arasbha haiya kamsa-vadha paryanta asura-vadha-lila / sei sab lila vyatireka rupa vraje u nirguna goloka-lilaya abhimana matra-svarupe achhe / vastutah tahara tathaya nai evam thakiteu pare na / vyatireka lila pathe rasika suddha-bhava haiya anvayalila-rasa asvadana karite karite goloka darsana paiben / esthale sanksepatah ei paryanta balilam / visesa yatna-purvaka sadhaka u prema-ruruksu purusa iha anusilana kariya bujhiya laiben /
"The highest knowledge is prema. This is revealed in two ways in the activities of Krsna. Directly it is obtained through the daily eight-fold pastimes (asta-kaliya lila). Indirectly it is obtained through the pastimes of killing the demons, from the killing of Putana to the killing of Kamsa. These pastimes exist symbolically in Vraja and only as impressions in Goloka. Actually they are not found there, and cannot exist there. Reading the indirect pastimes, the devotee can purify himself; being purified, he can taste the direct pastimes and perceive Goloka. If the aspirant for prema very carefully cultivates in this way he will understand all these matters." (Sri Caitanya Siksamrta, Chapter 7, Part 7)
It is a fact that one should hear hari-katha from a bona-fide spiritual master, but the nature of that hari-katha depends on one's qualification. The necessity to hear does not imply that everyone, (specifically the unqualified) must hear rasa-katha. We find no examples of Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srila B. P. Puri Maharaja, Srila B. R. Sridhara Maharaja, Srila B. P. Kesava Maharaja, Srila B. D. Madhava Maharaja, Srila B. S. Goswami Maharaja and other stalwart disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura speaking on confidential topics to open assemblies of unqualified persons.
A handful of examples have been presented by the rasika camp mentioning some non-confidential pastimes of Radha and Krsna, that have been discussed in private conversations by our acaryas. However, there are no examples found that support the thesis advocating the hearing of rasa-katha by any and all audiences, irregardless of one's qualification or disqualification. The examples sited by the rasika camp are actually isolated examples and do not represent the standard rule.
For a correct understanding of the standard rule for hearing rasa-katha one should examine the preaching of Srila Sarasvati Thakura and that of his prominent disciples. A few note worthy examples are sited here as follows:
"Pujala raga-patha gaurava bhange— Always keep the path of raga above one's head, at a respectful distance. Don't be bold enough to approach directly. My Guru Maharaja's whole life in a nutshell is expressed in this, his own expression. Pujala raga-patha, the very nature of our sampradaya is this." (Srila Sridhara Maharaja, Aug. 14, 1981)
"Pujala raga-patha gaurava bhange. This is Bhaktisiddhanta-vani, the real existence of Bhaktisiddhanta is there." (Srila Sridhara Maharaja, 1982 — MP3 audio recording)
As members of the Caitanya Sarasvata-parampara, we are all followers of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. As such, we cannot neglect his teachings and we must view the teachings of the previous acaryas in light of his teachings and example. This differentiates us from the sahajiyas, who only use quotes of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and the Goswamis to advocate their unauthorized path.
"We must understand the commentary of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura through the medium of Srila Prabhupada and we must give prominence to Srila Prabhupada's commentary.' (Acarya Kesari Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Goswami, His Life and Teachings, chapter 4).
"Srila Gurudeva especially manifested guru-nistha during a discussion of tattva-siddhanta with Parama Pujaniya Yatiraja Srila Sridhara Goswami Maharaja. On that occasion, he said, "I don't recognize the path of the previous Goswamis. I simply accept Jagadguru Srila Prabhupada's line of thought as unerring truth, and I will try to know and understand the previous Goswamis through Srila Prabhupada's vision. I will first accept the excellence of his explanations and commentaries. Acaryera jei mata sei mata sara. 'The order of the guru is the active principle in spiritual life.' (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 12.10) and anya ara jatat mata jauka charakhara. This is my conception."
(Acarya Kesari Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Goswami, His Life and Teachings, chapter 4. p 336)
In his lecture, Suddha o Viddha Bhakti, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has commented:
atyanta guhyadapi guhya rai-kanura rasa-ganera padavali yadi amadera mata lampata-vyakti hate-bajare ghate-vate-mathe ya'ra-ta'ra kace gana va varnana kare, tabe ki uha-dvara jagaj-janjala upasthita haya na? bahya-jagatera pratiti prabala thakite amara ye yajana karitece baliya abhimana kari, taha nirathaka / amara ki lesa-matra-o bhagavanera janya anuraga haiyacche? ekbara niskapate antaratmake jijnasa karile bujha yaya / iha dvara bala haitecche na ye, bhajanera kriya chadiya dite haibe/ bala haitecche ye, adhikaranu-yayi krama-pathanusare agrasara haite haibe /
"The songs of Rai-Kanu's dealings with Each Other (rasa) is the greatest secret of all secrets. If those who are lascivious as ourselves go to sing or describe them in markets and bazaars, ghatas, roads and fields to each and everybody, won't it bring nothing to the world but unwanted rubbish? Whatever worship we boast of while our perception of external world is still strong as anything, is useless. 'Have I acquired a drop of at least anuraga for Bhagavan, genuine desire to give pleasure to His senses?' — this question we should ask our inner self at least once and without deceit, then everything will become clear. By that it is not intended to say that we are to give up bhajana-kriya for good. It is intended to say that one should follow the gradual path of progress according to one's adhikara (qualification)" (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Suddha o Viddha Bhakti, April 20, 1926)
"All these days we have not spoken about lila. Why? Because this is our most confidential asset. This is our only sadhya (perfection). But, one should not make the mistake of thinking that anartha-nivrtti (overcoming impediments such as lust and greed) is the prayojana (goal of life). One thinking like this will never enter into artha-pravrtti (acquiring one's actual need). For this reason, I will begin speaking about asta-kaliya-lila. I know that you are not ready to hear it. But we should know such a transcendental ideal exists within the realm of devotion. This is why anartha-nivrtti is essential. After the realm of anartha-nivrtti is artha-pravrtti, pure conjugal service to Radha and Krsna. This is transcendental reality. If we do not know of this transcendental realm, then all of our efforts may end in nirvisesa-vada (impersonalism). Do not let your day pass in trying for anartha-nivrtti. Artha-pravrtti is also necessary. Anartha-nivrtti is necessary until artha-pravrtti has started. When artha-pravrtti is present then anartha-nivrtti becomes unimportant — artha-pravrtti becomes prominent."
"Those who have chanted hari-nama for fifteen or twenty years should know such things. The beginners need not hear these topics or they will misunderstand. These topics are for certain audiences, not for all. Also, it is said, apana bhajana-katha, na kahibe jatha-jatha, 'One should not reveal one's bhajana to others.' If we disregard this instruction of our previous acaryas then there may be a permanent fall from the realm of devotional service."(Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, from an article in The Gaudiya, 1934)
It is clear from this statement of Sarasvati Thakura that one should hear high topics; indeed, one must hear such topics. But one must be qualified first, as stated clearly by Srila Sarasvati Thakura, by "fifteen or twenty years of (purely) chanting the Holy Name" — and his disciples were required to chant 64 rounds every day. Furthermore, Srila Sarasvati Thakura explains, "The beginners need not hear these topics or they will misunderstand." How can this be interpreted in any other way?
Devotees should know such a transcendental ideal exists within the realm of devotion and as emphasized by Sarasvati Thakura, anartha-nivrtti is essential to enter that plane.
The followers of the rasika camp claim that the only qualification necessary is lobha (greed). This is true, but it must be actual lobha, which is not a cheap thing. One must be cautious to not mistake mere enthusiasm to hear the confidential lilas as actual lobha. Immitation of lobha does not mean that one actually has lobha. Srila B.P. Puri Goswami has commented thus:
"The awakening of greed (lobha) which qualifies one for raganuga bhakti is not to be taken cheaply, as if easy to attain." (Art of Sadhana. Chapter 14.)
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura also makes a similar statement:
"On the path of raga, however, it is necessary to avoid imitation or deception. If that occurs, it produces disturbance and obstacles, though the person may think that his corrupted raga is real raga. Finally, material association turns that raga into material attraction and causes falldown of the jiva." (Dasa-mula Tattva)
One who actually has real greed for hearing hari-katha will reject all mundane activities and engage solely in bhajana. It has been observed, however, that a vast majority of the modern day practitioners of raganuga-sadhana are not inclined to give up their many mundane attachments and enjoying mentality. Rather than dedicating themselves to a surrendered life of seva (service), we find that their hearing of hari-katha is done in a mood of enjoyment, for their own pleasure, and is irregularly performed. When there is the occasional arranged program they come, otherwise material life goes on.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura further explains real lobha as follows:
"On attaining greed for the mood of the Vraja-vasis, no other attraction remains. When that greed arises, the practitioner immediately becomes completely disinterested in sinful action, piety, social duty, neglect of duty, forbidden actions, speculation, and dry renunciation." (Dasa-mula Tattva)
"In the vaidhi-bhakti process, following this gradual method, attainment of bhava takes a long time. However, if greed for the mood of the Vraja-vasis develops, the material desires are quickly destroyed, since no other desires have a place. Along with greed for Krsna simultaneously arises bhava." (Dasa-mula Tattva)
Srila B.P. Puri Goswami quotes Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura in this regard:
"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada explains that only after one's mind and intelligence are purified by the chanting of the Holy Names can one hear about Krsna's form, qualities, associates, and finally, pastimes. One who has not yet reached the stage of ruci, or taste for devotional service, may prematurely go to a pretender guru to take initiation and instruction in raganuga-bhakti, without first making an effort to chant the Holy Name offenselessly. Such a person may make a pretense of relishing Krsna's lila while still affected by materialistic contamination, but such an attempt will not succeed in bringing him love for the divine couple and service for Them in the spiritual abode." (Art of Sadhana, Chapter 14.)
We have seen on numerous occasions where, in the attempt to cultivate raganuga bhakti the proper measure of discretion has been neglected. Sadly, in the rasika assemblies the unqualified persons are being encouraged to unhesitatingly ask questions about highly confidential subject matters. Unfortunately, in some of these so-called rasika assemblies the love pastimes of Radha-Krsna are sometimes being discussed even up to the point of nudity in the lila. This is indeed a gross violation of the confidentiality of the Supreme Lord's pastimes.
The confidentiality of Radha Krsna-lila is never to be breached. If it is, as is done by the pseudo-rasikas, then a great offense is committed. Qualified devotees never discuss the Lord's confidential lilas in a public forum. That is the Gaudiya-sampradaya standard.
Although in many of his works, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written in great detail on the necessity of engaging in raganuga-sadhana, he has also stipulated what are the qualifications to do that as follows:
ei rupa sabhaa ami taha vyakti karile anadhikarir pakse visesa amangala haite pare / ucchisthita satya-samuha ucchapadasta na haile labhya hay na / yemata samasta vijnanasa stre kramasah ucchajnaner udaya haya, tadrupa bhakti-sastrer u ucchadhikara-krame gudha-tattve prapti haiya thake /
"If I explain this topic in the assembly, it could be harmful for the unqualified devotees. Higher truths cannot be attained unless one is situated on a higher platform. Just as higher knowledge gradually arises in all scientific literature, likewise, confidential truths are attained in devotional literatures by proper qualification." (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Prema Pradipa — Tenth Ray)
sajatiyasaya-snigdha sad-gosthi vyatita rasa-vilapa kariben na / vaisnava jagat-samrddhi sambandha bhakta-sanga vyatita janya sanga kariben na /
"One should not discuss topics of rasa with anyone except highly qualified persons on the same level of spiritual advancement." (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Caitanya Siksamrta —Chapter 3. Part 2)
itara visaye vairagya prapta jata-prema lokerai rasadhikari / yahara ekhana paryanta suddha-rati u jada-vairagya labha kare nai, tahara rasadhikara janya — viphala cesta karite gele rasake sadhana baliya kadacare pravrtta haibe / jataprema puruser ye bhava sahajei haiyacche, tahai rasa / rasa-vicara kevala ei rase ki ki bhava kiprakare samyojita acche, tahara vivrtti matra / rasa sadhananga naya, ataeva yadi keha balen, aisa tomake rasa-sadhana siksa dei, se kevala tahara durttata va murkhyata matra /
"Those who have attained the level of prema and are completely detached from worldly pleasure are qualified for rasa. Those who have not attained pure rati and sense control make futile attempts to become qualified for rasa by practicing rasa. That taste which arises naturally in a person on the level of prema is called rasa. The discussion of rasa is only a description of how the various elements combine in the different rasas; it is not a part of sadhana. Therefore, if anyone says that he will teach you the sadhana of rasa, he is an impostor or a fool." (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Caitanya Siksamrta, Chapter 7, Part 1)
ei raser anadhikari ke? anadhikarike hari-nama dana kara yerupa aparadha ei rasa-visaya tahar nikata vyakhya karau tadrupa aparadha /
"Who is not qualified to thus taste the nectar of the transcendental rasa? As it is an offense to give the Holy Name to an unqualified person, so it must also be an offense to explain the rasas to an unqualified person." (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 28)
ei dainandini aprakrta radha-krsna-nitya-lila patha karibar sakaler adhikara nai / iha paramad-bhuta rahasya — visedha gopane rakha kartavya / yini ihar adhikari nana, tahake ei lila sravana karana ihabe na / jada-bandha-jiva ye paryanta cinta-tattve raga-marge lobha prapta na hana, se paryanta tahara nikata ihate ei lila-varnana gupta rakha kartavya / nama-rupa-guna lilar aprakrta-tattva arthat suddha-cinmaya-svarupa ye paryanta hrdaye udita na haya, se paryanta ei lila sravaner adhikara haya na / anadhikari-gana ei lila patha kariya kevala mayika-bhave jadiya stri-purusa-sangamadi dhyana karatah apagati labha kariben / pathaka mahasaya-gana savadhana ihaya narader nyaya aprakrta srnga-rasamskara-labha kariya ei lilaya pravesa kariben /
"Not everyone is qualified to read the daily pastimes of Radha and Krsna. It is esoteric knowledge of great wonder which must be kept secret. One should not let those who are not qualified hear these topics. As long as the soul has not attained greed for the spiritual world on the path of raga, the description of these pastimes must be kept hidden from him. As long as the person has no realization of the pure spiritual nature of the transcendental Name, form, qualities and pastimes of Krsna, he has no qualification for hearing these pastimes. Hearing these pastimes, the unqualified person will simply meditate on material relationships of male and female, under the influence of maya, and by this he will become degraded. The reader, with great care should attain initiation into the srngara-rasa like Narada, and then he can enter the pastimes." (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Caitanya Siksamrta, Chapter 6, Part 5)
ei madhura rasa vicare ami adhika pramana samgraha kari nai/ kenana yahara ihate pravesa karibar adhikara paiben, tahara ei raser sakala katha sri ujjvala-nilamani granthe evam jaiva-dharme dekhiya laiben /
"These topics are more elaborately described in Ujjvala- nilamani and Jaiva Dharma. By consulting those books the qualified person can realize their nature. For fear of offense by unqualified persons nothing more will be said here." (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Caitanya Siksamrta, Chapter 7, Part 7)
ye sakala vyakti sthuladehagata ye sakala vyakti sthula-dehagata sukhake bahumanana karatah cinmaya dehagata ei sakala ananda-vaicitrya avagata hana nai, tahara e saba kathar prati drstipata, manana u alocana kariben na / kenana, taha karile ei sakala varnanake mamsacarasmagata kriya mane kariya haya aslila baliya ninda kariben, naya adara kariya sahajiya-bhave adhah patana labha kariben /
"People who have strong attraction for gross material pleasure and cannot understand these topics should not read, think of, or discuss these topics of rasa, because they will think that these are all material activities and criticize them. If they do appreciate them at all, they will become degraded as sahajiyas.' (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Caitanya Siksamrta, Chapter 7, Part 7)
madhur bhakti-raske mukhya bhakti-rasa balen / jada-rasa-asrita buddhi isvara-parayana haile nivrtti —dharma labha kare, avara ye paryanta cidraser adhikari na haya, se paryanta tahader pravrtti santave na / sei sakala loker ei rase upayogita nai / madhura-rasa svabhavatah duruha / adhikari sahaje paoya yaya na baliya e rasa gudha rahasya-rupe gupta rakha ucita / etanibandhana ei sthale madhur rasa svabhavatah vistrtanga haile u sanksepe varnana karibe/
"A person who is not renounced in this way is not qualified to understand the spiritual rasas. Therefore the people in general are not qualified to understand the madhura-rasa. Madhura-rasa is very difficult to understand. It is not easy to find a person qualified to understand it. This rasa is very confidential. Therefore it is appropriate to keep it hidden from general view." (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 30)
kirtana korinu sesa kala vicariya
'Considering for the benefit of those who have no qualification for hearing about such things, I have thus ended my kirtana here.' (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Kalyana Kalpa-taru 4.5-8)
In the biography of Srila Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji Maharaja the following is written:
"Whoever's heart is free from the modes of material nature, such that no type of material lust can come, is the only person who is always engaged in determined devotional service unto the Vaisnavas. This type of person, free from all impediments in devotional service — in their hearts the sprout of love of Godhead can actually take place, by hearing about the pastimes of the Lord. But those who have some materialistic desires within their hearts, if they hear pastimes of Radha and Krsna, then as a result of that, within their hearts, the seed of material lust will manifest. Acting as if they are hearing the pastimes of Radha and Krsna, their material lust simply only grows and grows." (Sri Sri Gaura-kisora Lilamrta-lahari)
"When there is rain, weeds grow very quickly. Carefully planted seeds can also grow, but some are destroyed prematurely by a heavy downpour. By hearing a discourse about Krsna and His pastimes, the seeds of love for Krsna bud forth in the heart of those persons who are pure, devoid of material desires and sincerely dedicated to the service of the spiritual master and the Vaisnavas. Those in whom the seed of lust is found, however, will immediately become lustful upon hearing of the sportive pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna. By pretentiously hearing the pastimes of Radha-Krsna, their lust becomes inflamed. The consciousness of the conditioned living being is covered by lust, and thus they take the transcendental pastimes of Radha-Govinda to be the libidinous exploits of a mundane hero and heroine. Those who assume that, because they have faith in the pastimes of Radha and Krsna, they are able to experience the transcendental nature of those pastimes, are unaware of their own carnal desires, being overwhelmed by the illusory energy. You cannot understand from their utterances whether the pastimes are transcendental or whether they have proper regard for the pastimes." (Sri Sri Gaura-kisora Lilamrta-lahari)
Also Srila Sridhara Maharaja explains in Follow the Angels:
"Our Guru Maharaja wrote several poems, one of which is Prakrta-rasa Sata-dusani - 'A Hundred Defects in the Sahajiya Conception.' The defects are innumerable, but our Guru Maharaja put forward a hundred points of the defects in their process of 'advancement.' Mainly they are very easy purchasers. They are not prepared to pay the real price."
A few important excerpts from Prakrta-rasa Sata-dusani are presented here:
anartha thakara kale rasa-gana kore na
anartha thakara kale siddhi-labdha bole na
"While still contaminated with anarthas, one should never sing songs glorifying transcendental mellows. As long as these impediments remain, one should never state that siddhi has been attained."
anartha thakara kale lila-gana kore na
anartha-nivrtti-kale nama jada bole na
"While still contaminated with anarthas, one should never sing songs about the Lord's confidential pastimes. After these impediments are purified (anartha-nivrtti), one never speaks of the Holy Name of Krsna as if it were a mundane sound vibration."
adhikara avicara rupanuga kore na
anartha-anvita dase rasa-siksa deya na
"The followers of Srila Rupa Goswami are never neglectful in assessing anyone's spiritual qualifications. The followers of Srila Rupa Goswami never instruct a servant who is engrossed in material impediments about the science of intimate devotional mellows."
asakta komala-sraddhe rasa-katha bole na
anadhikarire rase adhikara deya na
"A devotee should never speak on the topics of devotional mellows to one who has weak, pliable faith. A devotee should never attempt to bestow the qualification for rasa upon one who is unqualified to receive it."
vaidha-bhakta-jane kabhu raganuga jane na
komala-sraddhake kabhu rasika to' jane na
"Devotees who are still on the platform of following regulated scriptural injunctions (vaidha-bhaktas) cannot yet understand anything about the exalted stage of the raganugas, practitioners of spontaneous devotional service. Those who possess weak faith cannot yet understand the realm of the rasikas, relishers of pure transcendental mellows."
svalpa-sraddha-jane kabhu jata-rati mane na
svalpa-sraddha-jane rasa upadesa kore na
"Those who possess little faith are never recognized as being highly developed in loving devotional attachment. Those who possess little faith are never to be instructed in topics concerning transcendental mellows."
anartha-visista sisye rasa-tattva bole na
"The disciple who is still contaminated with these impediments (anarthas) is never taught the science of intimate devotional mellows (rasa-tattva)."
jata-rati prauda-sraddha-sanga tyaga kore na
komala-sraddhere kabhu rasa diya seve na
"When spiritual attachment (rati) is manifest, one never leaves the company of those endowed with advanced faith. If immature devotees with pliable faith are presented with a devotional mellow, they will never be able to properly serve it."
nama krpa na korile lila suna jaya na
"Without first receiving the mercy of the Holy Name, one should never listen to recitations of Krsna's confidential pastimes."
vyavahita lila-gane kama dura haya na
aparadha-vyavadhane siddha-deha paya na
"One who is covered by offenses may sing the pastimes of the Lord, but this will never do away with the lust burning in his heart. By the blockage of offenses, one's eternal spiritual body (siddha-deha) will never be attained."
In the following letters, appearing in the book Prabhupader Patravali, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura clearly defines the path to attain raga-marga:
apnara patre sastra-sara-sangraha darsana kariya badi ananda labha karilam. ei sakala katha cinte bala kariya alocana karilai janite pariben ye, alaya haite jata trancade paka-buddhi prakrta prastabe phala-pradane asamartha haya / amara ksudra jiva, vidhi-pather pathik; tabe rager virodhi nahi / rager katha bada, tabe amader mukhe uha sobha paya na / chota mukhe bada katha sunile bhajananuragi-gana hasya kariya udaiya diben /
krsna ki vastu, taha yahara upalabdhi haya nai, tahara anuraga-pathe unnatadhikara praptir cesta — alasya jnapak; ihai mahajana-gana pade pade boliyacen /
sri bhagavan-nama u bhagavan eki vastu / yahader nijer bandavicare nama-namite bheda buddhi acche, tahader anartha-nivrttir janya bhajana-kusala janer seva kara nitasta avasyka; iha dekhaibar janya sri gaurasundarer parsad-bhakta-gana taha varnana karen / totapathir nyaya amara yadi uha audayite yai, taha haile loke amadigke 'prakrta-sahajiya' baliya nirdesa purvaka amader atmastarita kamaiya dibe / prakrta sahajiya-gana ei rupa durgatipakse duriya giyacche baliya sei sakala 'panke gauriva sidati' dalke raganuga bhaktir mahima pradarsana karite haile svayam bhajanacatura haiya apararer mangala vidhana karite haya / sutaram likhita kathaguli apani bhalo kariya bujhibar yatna kariben / 'bhajana' bahirer va loka dekhaibar vastu nahe / ucchaihsvare hari-nama kariben, taha haile alasyarupa bhoga amadigke grasa karite paribe na /
"I was extremely glad to see in your letter the very gist of all the sayings of sastra! After deliberating over the matter nicely in your heart you will find out that precocious thinking born of laziness can bear no real fruit. We are tiny jivas, traversing the path of vidhi, yet we are not inimical to raga. Raga-katha is high, but in our small mouth it doesn't look nice. Hearing such high words from our little mouth, devotees whose life and soul is bhajana will laughingly push us away.
Having no idea of Who is Krsna, one's trying to raise oneself up onto the path of raga exposes his laziness; Mahajanas proclaim this on every step.
Sri Bhagavan and the Name of Bhagavan are one entity. One who has conditioned perception of difference between nama and nami is utterly required to serve devotees accomplished in bhajana for rectification of one's anarthas; to demonstrate this, the eternal associates of Sri Gaurasundara have described the kind of bhajana such devotees engage in. If we go to repeat it like parrots, people will designate us as 'prakrta-sahajiyas' and thus bear down our self-assurance. But if we want to show all these prakrta-sahajiyas mired in their misconceptions the real glory of raganuga-bhakti, we have to learn the art of bhajana ourselves and only then try for others' eternal benefit.
So try to carefully understand what is written. 'Bhajana' is nothing external nor any means for showing off. Loudly call out nama, then the spirit of enjoyment in the form of laziness won't be able to swallow us."
apnara 24se tarikher patra paiya samacara jnata hailam / apni vrndavane giya vaisnava-ganer nikata ye asta-kaliya-lila-smaranadir visaya jnaniyachen, uha adaraniya, sandeha nai / kintu yebhave e sakala visaya anarthamayi avastaya dharana kara haya, visayati serupa nahe / sri hari-nama grhana karite karite se-sakala visaya vyaktivisesa jnanite paren, uhai svaruper paricaya / anartha-nivrtti haile svarupa uddhudh haya / svaruper udbodhane nityapratiti apnate asiya upasthita haya / uha keha kahakeu kapatata kariya siksa deya na va nirnaya kariya deya na / tabe niskapatacite pracur hari-nama karite karite ye upalabhdir visaya haya, taha sadhu-gurur pada-padma nivedana kariya sei visayer dharana suddha u samartana kariya lite haya / uhai eka-dasa prakara svaruper paricaya / nana sthaner avivecaka guru-gana ye-sakala katha ayogaya sadhaker upara krtrimabhaver capaiya dena, uhake siddhir paricaya bala jaya na / jini svarupa-siddhi labha karen, tini e sakala paricaye svatah siddhi paricita hana evam sri-gurudeva sei sakala visaye bhajanaonntir sahaya kariya thaken matra / amara ei visaye adhika vaktavya nai / sadhaker siddhir unnatikrame ei sakala katha svabhaviki bhave akapata sevonmukha hrdaye prakasita haya /
"I have noted your letter dated the 24th. The asta-kaliya-lila about which you have heard from the Vaisnavas in Vrndavana should be highly regarded no doubt. But the way in which these pastimes are conceived of in the contaminated state is totally corrupt. Some fortunate individuals are capable of knowing these things after chanting for a long time, for that is the identity of the true self. But it can only be known after one is freed of mental contaminations. With the awakening of this spiritual identity, one automatically has constant cognition of his spiritual form. Those who say that they can teach or reveal this identity are practicing a kind of deception; it cannot be done. On the other hand, if a devotee receives some inspiration after sincerely chanting for a long time, he should go to the sad-guru or advanced devotees and ask for it to be confirmed and purified by them. The spiritual identity has eleven aspects (eka-dasa-bhava). There are many cases of unscrupulous gurus who artificially force-feed these designations on unqualified practitioners, but we cannot call this the mark of spiritual perfection. Those who have achieved the perfection of being fixed in their spiritual identity (svarupa-siddhi) have attained such a realization through internal revelation and the spiritual master's only involvement in these matters is to help the further advancement of a disciple. As a practitioner progresses toward spiritual perfection, all these things are revealed naturally within the heart that sincerely seeks service."
jahate sri-namer krpa haya, sarvatobhave sri-namer nikata bahai prathana kariben / asta-kala-lila smarana prabhrti anartha-bukta avasthar krtya nahe / kirtana-mukhai sravana haya evam smaraner suyoga upasthita haya / sei kalai asta-kala-lila-sevar anubhuti sambhava / krtrim-vicare asta-kala smarana karite nai /
"We should constantly pray to the Holy Name for His mercy. One who is still in a contaminated state should not engage in smarana of the daily cycle of the Lord's pastimes (asta-kaliya-lila). When we engage in chanting the Holy Names, we are simultaneously engaged in hearing and the opportunity for remembering is included in that. One should not engage in asta-kaliya-lila-smarana on false premises."
sri nama grahana karite karite anartha apasarita haila sri namai rupa, gua, u lila apna haite sphurti haibe / cesta kariya krtrim bhave rupa, guna, u lila smarana karite haibe na /
"There is no point in making a separate effort to artificially remember the Lord's form, qualities and pastimes. The Lord and His Name are one and the same. This will be understood clearly when the coverings in our hearts are removed. By chanting without offenses you will personally realize that all perfections come from the Holy Name."
It is also interesting to note that in an old copy of Jaiva-dharma published by the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, in 1953 Srila Kesava Maharaja writes in the Introduction:
" srila prabhupader vicara-dhara anusare, bhajane kincit unnat-adhikara labh na kara parjanta 'rasa-vicare' kahara-o pravesa kara ucit nahe / srila prabhupada 'bhai sahajiya', 'prakrta-rasa-sata-dusani' o anyanya bahu prabandhadir madhye iha suspastabhave vyakta kariyachen/ athaca etadin javat anadhikari byaktir nikate-o rasa-vicara-sambalita ei 'jaiva-dharma'-grantha-khani samarpana karite haiyache/ iha srila prabhupader vicara-dharar anukul nahe/ daivat tahar aikantika prerana-krame tahara-i mano'bhista purana-kalpe, srila thakura bhaktivinoder krpa-kataksa-labhasay, tahar nija-janer preranay iha tin-bhage vibhakta haiyache/ 'rasa-vicara-mulak' trtiya khanda amra anadhikari sadharaner nikata arpan karite iccha kari na/ tajjanya, atyanta durmmulyer batsare samanya pac-ti mudra grahana kariya-i 1-m,o 2-ya khanda ekatre pradatta haibe/..."
"According to Srila Prabhupada's line of thought, even if one engages in bhajana but is not highly qualified, it is improper to enter into discussions on rasa. Srila Prabhupada has expressed this very clearly in such works as Bhai Sahajiya, Prakrta-rasa Sata-dusani and many other essays. Nevertheless, even today there are many unqualified persons who are given to studying the portions of Jaiva Dharma containing the analysis of rasa. According to Srila Prabhupada's understanding, this is detrimental. Being the worthy recipient of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's merciful glance, and being destined with an increasingly intense desire to fulfill his innermost wishes, he has divided the book into three sections for his followers. According to his desire we will not be selling the third volume, viz. rasa-vicara to the unqualified public. The first two volumes will be available for a symbolic price."
In his introduction to Professor N. K. Sanyal's book, Sree Krishna Chaitanya, Srila Sarasvati Thakura writes as follows:
"One who presumes to instruct others without himself realizing the nature of the course of loving devotion, or who, although himself cognizant of the nature of the path of devotion, instructs the disciple regarding the same without due consideration of the aptitude of the latter, is the pseudo-guru. It is necessary by all means to renounce the guidance of such a guru."
"Those who, falling into the clutches of the pseudo-guru by neglect of the proper exercise of their judgment, deceive themselves by consenting to adopt the higher grade of worship to which they are not entitled, fall under the category of the third class of offenders described above. But those who, even after becoming aware of their unfitness, persist in practicing the higher method of worship, hoping thereby to gain honour and wealth for themselves, commit the offense of religious hypocrisy. Until this defect is discarded, there can be no appearance of the principle of spontaneous liking for Krsna. These hypocrites only deceive the world by the display of the external insignia of sectarianism and pseudo-renunciation. Those persons who choose to show their regard for these arrogant persons in consideration of the external marks exhibited by them, failing to attain the favour of Krsna, only prove to be thorns in the sides of the people of this world."
The pseudo-rasika-gurus and their followers often quote the famous vikriditam verse of Srimad Bhagavatam (vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca visnoh 10.33.42) to support their engagement in hearing the rasa-lila pastimes of Radha-Krsna. The assumption of the so-called rasika camp is that even if they are contaminated with lusty desires within their hearts they will nonetheless be able to relish the Lord's rasa-lila if they simply hear from a so-called rasikacarya.
Although these rasikas have presented their arguments in an apparently scholarly manner they nonetheless grossly neglect the mood of our acaryas and especially that of Srila Bhakisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has written further as follows:
"It is not empiric wisdom that is the object of quest of the devotee. Those who read the scriptures for gathering empiric wisdom will be pursuing the wild goose chase. There are not a few dupes (duplicates or imitators) of their empiric scriptural erudition. These dupes have their admiring under-dupes (followers). But the mutual admiration society of dupes does not escape, by the mere weight of their number, the misfortunes due to the deliberate pursuit of the wrong course in accordance with the suggestions of our lower selves." (The Harmonist, December 1931, vol. XXIX No.6)
Deliberating upon the vikriditam verse (vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca visnoh) Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada writes in his Anubhasya commentary to Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 5.45:
ye vyakti srimad bhagavata-varnita krsnera aprakrta rasadi-madhura-lila nijera aprakrta-hrdaya-dvara visvasa kariya varnana karena va sravana karena, tahara prakrta manasija kama sampurna-rupe ksina haiya yaya / aprakrta krsna-lilara vakta va srota aprakrta-rajye-i nijera astitva anubhava karaya prakrtira guna-traya tahake parabhuta karite samartha haya na / tini jade parama nirguna-bhava-visista haiya acancala-mati evam krsna-sevaya nijadhikara bujhite samartha / prakrta-sahajiya-ganera nyaya ei prasange keha yena e-rupa mane na karena ye, "prakrta-kama-lubdha jiva sambandha-jnana labha karibara parivartte prakrta-buddhi-visista haiya nija-bhogamaya rajye vasa karata sadhana-bhakti parityaga-purvaka krsnera rasadi aprakrta vihara va lilake nija-sadrsa prakrta-bhogera adarsa janiya, tahara sravana o kirtanadi karile-i tahara jada kama vinasta haibe' / iha nisedha karibara janya-i mahaprabhu "visvasa'-sabda-dvara prakrta-sahajiya-ganera prakrta-buddhi nirasana kariyachena /
"A person who hears or describes the rasa-lila and other such pastimes as found in the Bhagavatam, living them in his transcendental heart, then finds the material desires for sensual pleasure wane to nothingness. Because Krsna's pastimes are transcendental, one who hears or speaks about them enters into that transcendental domain where the material qualities can no longer influence him. Even while in contact with matter, he is unaffected; his mind remains calm and steady. He is able to understand his own qualifications to serve Krsna. No one should think, as do the prakrta-sahajiyas, that an ordinary living entity will overcome lust by hearing and chanting these pastimes if he is filled with contaminations like lust and greed, if he avoids accumulating the appropriate knowledge of the relationships between matter, the individual soul and the Supreme Lord, if he remains fixed in a subjective world centered on his own sensual pleasures, if his intelligence continues to be permeated with material conceptions, if he neglects all the purifying activities of devotional service in practice, and especially if he takes the spiritual love affairs of the Supreme Lord to have the same kinds of sensual motivations that he himself experiences. For this reason, Mahaprabhu emphasized the word 'faith' (visvasa) in order to forestall such sahajiya arguments." (Anubhasya, Cc. Antya 3.45).
The members of the rasika camp have taken exception to our statement that one must "first come to the stage of anartha-nivrtti" before hearing rasa-katha. However, our statement is supported by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada's definition of sraddhanvitah. In the word for word translation to Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 3.45, Sarasvati Thakura has said that sraddhanvitah means "aspiring for service with an unflinching purified heart', "sraddhaya aprakrta-suhrt visvasena yuktah sevonmukhah san.'
It should also be mentioned that Srila Sarasvati Thakura has stressed that the word dhira refers to one who has mastered the six urges of the senses, "sad-vegajayi acancalah raganugah goswami. Srila Sridhara Maharaja also confirms this as follows:
"In his writings, Srila Jiva Goswami has laid stress on the word dhira, meaning self-controlled. To hear these elevated subjects, one must enter into the culture of sense-control, otherwise he will be destroyed." (The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute)
Srila B. P. Puri Goswami Maharaja further explains his Guru Maharaja's teachings on this point:
"In Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's commentary to the above verse (vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca visnoh) from the rasa-lila, it is written:
ata eva sraddhanvita iti sastravisvasinam namaparadhinam premapi nangikarotiti bhavah ayam sri-rasah srir api napa yam/
sastra-buddhi-vivekadyair api durgamam iksyate
gopinam rasa-vartmedam tasam anugatir vina
"The word sraddhavitah indicates that ecstatic love for Krsna does not come to those who do not believe the scriptures or who persist in committing offenses against the Holy Name. Thus even Laksmi cannot enter into this rasa-dance. Without exclusively following in the footsteps of the gopis, even those who believe in the scriptures and the very intelligent cannot enter onto this most difficult path of sacred rapture chalked out by the gopis."
"For this reason, our most revered Srila Prabhupada never approved of open discussion by the unqualified of the divine rasa, which is beyond the attainment of even Brahma, Visnu and Siva, and always gave priority to the chanting of the Holy Name."
"The unique characteristic of Srila Prabhupada's preaching was that even though he often spoke about the highest realms of devotional perfection, he always took care that none of his disciples got ahead of themselves and skipped necessary intermediate steps in the stage of practice to engage in anadhikara-carca (discussion of matters for which one is not qualified). If one attempts the cultivation of raga-marga prior to gaining the proper qualifications for such a practice and at the same time pays less attention to the chanting of the Holy Names, he is like a person who tries to pick the fruit without climbing the tree. He will only get the damaged fruit that has fallen to the ground. Prabhupada characterised those who engaged in such anadhikara-carca as prakrta-sahajiyas and rebuked them for their entering into realms which they were not qualified." (Of Love and Separation, Chapter 3)
Elaborating on the word varnayet (performing sankirtana following the path of the rupanugas, viz. the Holy Name, then qualities, then pastimes etc.), Srila Puri Maharaja explains in several articles as follows:
"In Bhakti-sandarbha, Srila Jiva Goswami outlines the process to spiritual realization:
prathamam namnah sravanam antahkarana-suddhyartham apeksyam / suddhe cantah-karane rupa-sravanena tad-udaya-yogyata bhavati / samyag-udite ca rupe gunanam sphuranam sampadyate / sampanne ca gunanam sphurane parikara-vaisistyena tad-vaisistyam sampadyate / tatas tesu nama-rupa-guna-parikaresu samyak sphuritesu lilanam sphuranam susthu bhavati /
"First it is expected that one should hear the Lord's Names in order to purify the heart. Once the mind and intelligence have been purified in this way, one can hear about Krsna's form, through which one's qualification to visualize it is obtained. When the form of the Lord has been clearly visualized, one can experience His qualities. Once these have been clearly understood, one develops one's own individual spiritual characteristics through the particular characteristics of the Lord's associates. Thus, once the Name, form, qualities and associates of the Lord have been realized, a clear realization of Krsna's activities will follow." (Krama-sandarbha commentary to Bhag. 7.5.18)
"Some unscrupulous characters take this verse (vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca visnoh) and others like it to mean that they can neglect the chanting of the Holy Names and spend their time in hearing and discussing the erotic pastimes of the Lord such as His rasa-lila. These misguided souls think that by hearing about Krsna's rasa-lila, in a state of material contamination, they can become purified and thus qualified for raganuga practice. However, if one does not seek the mercy of the Holy Name first, but artificially tries to appropriate the right to engage in such practices, he is like a pumpkin that ripens too quickly and bursts — he inevitably falls down." (Article from Caitanya vani 18.11, Feb. 1978)
"Krsna's pastimes with the gopis are incomprehensible to someone who depends on scriptural injunctions and logical arguments to engage in devotional service; one has to follow the transcendental path of the gopis themselves. These are the indications found in the Bhagavata in the verse beginning with (vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca visnoh 10.33.42)."
"The most merciful and worshipable Srila Prabhupada was so kind that he advised conditioned souls like ourselves, whose hearts are filled with all kinds of unwanted desires, to avoid prematurely getting involved in discussing such topics and to simply throw ourselves at the mercy of the Holy Name. The idea is that one should harbor the powerful desire to attain that goal (on the theory that one attains the perfection one seeks — yadrsi bhavana yasya siddhir bhavati tadrsi) and chant the Holy Name according to the spiritual master's instruction."
"If we cannot follow Srila Prabhupada's instruction to chant 100,000 Names every single day without offenses, even a fourth of that amount has a positive effect and quiets the mind. And yet there are those who do not even chant that amount and still think that they can engage in discussions of the Lord's divine pastimes in the hope of being able to relish them. This is pure arrogance!"
(Of Love in Separation Meditations on My Divine Master)
"Our most worshipable spiritual master Srila Prabhupada often quoted Jiva Goswami from the Bhakti Sandarbha: "First it is expected that one should hear the Lord's Names in order to purify the inner self.' (prathamam namnah sravanam antahkarana-suddhyartham apeksyam)."
"Prabhupada explains that only after one's mind and intelligence are purified by the chanting of the Holy Names can one hear about Krsna's form, qualities, associates, and finally, pastimes. One who has not yet reached the stage of ruci, or taste for devotional service, may prematurely go to a pretender guru to take initiation and instruction in raganuga-bhakti, without first making an effort to chant the Holy Name offenselessly. Such a person may make a pretense of relishing Krsna's lila while still affected by materialistic contamination, but such an attempt will not succeed in bringing him love for the divine couple and service for Them in the spiritual abode."
"The sadhya-sadhana-tattva is fully expained in the teachings of Ramananda Raya, but it is clear from the words of Srila Prabhupada mentioned above that the practices that lead to the supreme goal of service to the divine couple, are only possible through the purificatory process of chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord. The Lord himself has confirmed this statement when He said 'iha haite sarva-siddhi haibe sabara:' From the chanting of the Holy Names all perfections will come to everyone. All perfections — refers to perfections of spiritual life. Even though the love of the inhabitants of Vraja described by Ramananda Raya is the most secret treasure of the Vedic storehouse of knowledge, the impossible feat of winning this great prize can be accomplished by the mercy of the Holy Name; it can achieve miracles. Mahaprabhu stated to Tapana Misra, Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami's grandfather: "The object and the means to attain it are found through the chanting of the Holy Names," and "As you repeatedly practice the chanting of the Holy Names the seedling of love will sprout and you will then know both the goal of life and the means to attain it."
"Great authorities teach that one should remember the pastimes of the Lord according to the eight times of the day in relation to the eight verses of the Siksastaka. In his Bhakti Sandarbha Jiva Goswami states that in Kali-yuga any type of devotional service must be done in conjunction with the chanting of the Holy Names (yadyapi anya bhaktih kalau kartavya tada kirtanakhy-bhakti-samyojanenaiva). One should not give up kirtana to engage in smarana." (Art of Sadhana, Chapter 14.)
Srila Sridhara Maharaja reveals his stance on rasa-katha in the following statements:
"Once Prabhupada arranged to preach in Vrndavana for the full month of Karttika. He asked Bharati Maharaja at that time to explain the Seventh Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, the story of Prahlada. He did not ask for narrations about Krsna, Radha, Yasoda or anything of Vrndavana. 'Preach suddha-bhakti of Prahlada first. People are ripe in sahajiya, imitation of devotion. Just try to make them understand, to enter the plane of bhakti. That is great; what to speak of krsna-lila — that is far, far above.' There in Vrndavana the people wondered, 'What is this? They are explaining Bhagavatam, but leaving aside the Tenth Canto. They are explaining the Seventh Canto, the Prahlada-lila, the lower portion of bhakti. That is wonderful and strange.'"
"I found later on that Srila Prabhupada himself spoke for several days on the boundary line between Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda. He read and explained the Upadesamrta of Srila Rupa Goswami. He did not speak about Srimati Radharani or about Krsna, but about Upadesamrta — the basic teachings. His attention was always focused on the basics, because the fruit will come naturally. 'Pour water onto the root and the fruit will come up by itself.'"
"Sitting between Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda he explained not Bhagavatam, but Upadesamrta. Upadesamrta contains the substance of Mahaprabhu's teaching in the language of Rupa Goswami. Srila Prabhupada explained these topics and not anything of Govinda-lilamrta or Visvanatha Cakravarti's Sri Krsna-bhavanamrta. The higher topics of madhurya lila, Radha-Krsna's amorous pastimes, were left aside.
"Our master did not allow us to read the books where the highest lilas are described. Govinda-lilamrta, Stava-kusumanjali, Ujjvala-nilamani. He did not allow us to study and to discuss them. Rather, he would be very much disturbed if he heard that someone was interfering with the higher lilas in those books. He did not like it. There are three chapters of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta that we were generally not allowed to discuss fully, including the conversations with Ramananda Raya. Where the lila portion of Radha-Govinda is mentioned, we were not to delve. Of course when parayana (consecutive chanting of the whole book) was taking place, we were to go on reading those sections, but without giving any particular attention to the lila of the highest order of raga. That was barred: "Don't try to come into details there. That will come automatically when it is time. Do not make it a public discussion. Do not place it in the public eye." (Follow the Angels, Chapter two)
Srila Sridhara Maharaja speaks further:
Sridhara Maharaja: "Yes, Govinda-lilamrta is there, with asta-kaliya-lilas, the eight-fold lila of Radha-Govinda. This is for the higher students."
Devotee: "But in Jaiva Dharma Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura mentiones some of the asta-kaliya-lilas."
Sridhara Maharaja: "Yes, but he has given everything in Jaiva Dharma with much caution. Here Jiva Goswami explains, you must listen from a real source. So he will get there the real thing. It is not like lust, just the opposite of lust. So with that attitude you are to approach, dhira. Master of his own senses. He only is qualified to try to accept or listen, to enter into this flavor, not those that are not master of their own senses. And if he does:
naitat samacarej jatu manasapi hy-anisvarah
vinasyaty-acaran maudhyad yatharudro 'bdhi-jam visam
'One who is not a great controller should never imitate the behavior of ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behavior, he will simply destroy himself, just as a person who is not Rudra would destroy himself if he tried to drink an ocean of poison.' (Bhag. 10.33.30)
"Due to ignorance, anyone may venture to enter into this domain due to ignorance, even in mind, even mentally, vinasyati — he will be doomed. If he is not Siva, if he takes the poison, he is sure to die. And Siva took the poison and then ornamental thing came in his throat, nila-kanta. By the folded palm, Siva he drank the poison, but it was an ornament to his throat. But if who is not Siva, if he takes poison he is sure to die. So one who is not dhira and who has got no qualification to enter into this domain, he is sure to die. The warning is given in Bhagavatam by Sukadeva Goswami. It is nectar but still properly you must come to it. There is a possibility of mistaking it for your awkward enjoyment. Then you will be doomed forever." (Room Conversation, Nov. 12, 1981)
"'Dusta phala karibe arjjana' — Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura warns that we will get only a bad result if we venture to cross that line. It is aparadha. From the lower position, the steps are shown: sraddha, sadhu-sanga, sravana, kirtana, then anartha-nivrtti, when the undesirable things vanish. Then comes ruci, then asakti, then bhava-bhakti, the sprout of real devotion. Then prema-bhakti, and sneha, mana, pranaya, raga, anuraga, bhava, mahabhava — by such steps we are to approach the highest plane."
"Our Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Prabhupada, asked that we keep Radharani in great reverence, 'On your head, over your head—don't be bold enough to approach directly: Pujala raga-patha gaurava bhange. Try to keep Her and Her group at a respectful distance, above your head. Don't rush towards that position. It is not that cheap.'"
"The whole tenor of Guru Maharaja's life was such: 'That is high, very high, and from below we are to honor that.' We must establish this conception, the proper regard for that higher lila, throughout the entire world: 'That is too high.'"
"Prabhupada has ordered such strict behavior, and we also follow that. At so many other places they show the rasa-lila with dolls, but I never do that. Following what is true to my understanding of my Gurudeva's will and his words, I do not make any show of jhulana-lila or rasa-lila or anything of that nature. I find in my heart that this is not pleasing to my Guru Maharaja. But in so many mathas (temples) I see at present, I hear also, that they are doing that, but I strictly abstain from showing jhulana-lila and rasa-lila. That is too high for us."
"I must be true to the words of my Gurudeva if I want my realization and not just some sort of popularity. Some may discuss the higher lilas to attract people, to make money, or even to develop a favorable field for preaching, but I do not do this. I do not want popularity or any recognition as a higher acarya. I am a student."
"Still I am a student. I consider myself to be a student, a faithful student. What I heard from my Gurudeva, I try my best to stick to that, to keep my position there as I heard from him. I do not want to mutilate that in any way to suit my purpose. I try not to do that. Of course for big propaganda some may adopt different ways, as they see fit. They are now free. But I am not one to do so, to go on in such a way. I try to follow my Guru Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada." (Follow the Angels. Chapter 2)
"Pujala raga-patha gaurava bhange. The whole tenor of our Guru Maharaja, of the nature of his service is herein. Not only for him, but he has extended the banner to all. Come under the banner of such nature of thought about the divinity, an initiation will be safely secured. This verse is the inner life of my Guru Maharaja." (Sept. 1, 1981)
This verse, pujala raga-patha gaurava bhange, was repeatedly glorified and emphasized by Srila Sridhara Maharaja as the embodiment of his Guru Maharaja's mood — that of extreme respect for this higher path.
When confronted with the obvious differences between the satandards of our bona-fide acaryas and those of the so-called rasika-gurus the under dupes simply side-step the issue intirely by saying, "Oh, you just don't understand the inner mood of the acaryas."
Although rasika-gurus claim that they alone know the inner mood of our acaryas, the present sevaite-acarya of the Sri Caitanya Sarasvata Matha strongly disagrees:
"In my forty two years with Srila Guru Maharaja (Srila Sridhara Maharaja) I never once heard him give permission for that (hearing and describing the intimate pastimes of Radha and Krsna) to us. It was the desire of Guru Maharaja to tell something about the pastimes of Krsna, of Radharani, and others, so we heard from him, but always he told us in a very cautious way. Never did he tell us to read Ujjvala-nilamani or similar books, but some things he told us, and I know many slokas from Ujjvala-nilamani, Vidagdha-madhava, Lalita-madhava and others. That is, Guru Maharaja had me study kavya (Sanskrit composition), and it is necessary to read these verses to understand the many varieties of Sanskrit metre, language, beauty, alankara, etc. But I can say it is a special case, it is not for all. These books are no doubt the supreme books of our sampradaya, but they are not for all and everyone's reading. If anyone will read these books then they will become prakrta-sahajiya, and what will be for them?" (Sripada Bhakti Sundara Govinda Maharaja, London, Oct. 26, 1993)
Srila Puri Maharaja commented on the development of the sahajiya party in western countries as follows:
"In your foreign countries a party of sahajiyas has appeared. And it is not a matter of inventing something what they speak is there in 10th Canto, in the works of the Goswamis, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. But the very fact of their speaking such higher topics to unprepared audiences, ignoring the glories of the Holy Name, who is the only real path to this higher lila, is namaparadha. Mahaprabhu never did like this. He was relishing these topics with a few of his antaranga-bhaktas, and He was inspiring the masses to perform nama-sankirtana, and Himself performed sankirtana with great numbers of devotees. Pracara should be nama-pracara!"
(Room conversation 7th Feb. 1996. Sridhama Mayapura. Sri Gopinatha Gaudiya Matha)
"If I spoke here on Bhramara-gita, Gopi-gita and other such high topics, I would fill this room (laughs). This room would be full. But these topics are very high — not for everyone. Srila Prabhupada never spoke like this in public — these confidential topics. Mahaprabhu only spoke these things with four and a half devotees. Not every devotee." (Srila Puri Maharaja, Room conversation, Sridhama Mayapura, Sri Gopinatha Gaudiya Matha, 1994)
"Lust can be conquered through chanting and this chanting should be done sincerely. Unless we attain the eligibility we cannot go into these very esoteric pastimes of Krsna. Even Caitanya Mahaprabhu through His own example was relishing this rasa literature of Candidasa, Govinda Dasa, Vidyapati, the rasa-lilas with a very select few. He never went into public to discuss this. Because these pastimes of the Lord, these relationships with the Lord with His devotees, are very esoteric and have to be understood in that manner."
"So we are followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and as such, we have to acquire through chanting, the eligibility to come to that platform where we can openly discuss or even discuss with one another, these intimate pastimes with the correct conception. It has to be done with an eager mind, wanting, even hankering, to understand how we can get rid of our lust, anger — rather than discussing this as an entertainment, which is so often done. So chanting means without offences. The ten offences are there, they have been enumerated, so chanting means only when we get rid of our offences. Then gradually this eligibilty may come when the six enemies begin to subside."
"When one comes to that level of consciousness, when the mind is undisturbed by the material influence, at that time, he can actually begin to start to serve purely. And then all the pastimes can also be meditated upon properly."
"However, one should not consider chanting to be something very simple — something which is given to the beginners to keep them quiet, or to think that it is not the principle limb of pure devotion. In fact, this is the very basis of pure devotion because without having proper attachment to the Holy Name or proper understanding of the Holy Name, there is no question of going any further! The only thing that can give you prema is pure chanting. There is no other process that can bring you to the level of prema."
"You may feel that sometimes a certain attraction, but if this is not steady, you cannot interpret it as lobha, which is so rare. You cannot just find it anywhere."
(Srila Puri Maharaja, Lecture, Vrndavana 11th Nov. 1994)
In a recent barrage of essays the rasika camp has sited some examples in an attempt to support the idea that our Guru Maharaja, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada spoke of higher topics to the unqualified. The examples presented in those essays were of an exceptional nature, not standard. Actually our Guru Maharaja never spoke in public about rasa-katha — only to a very few individuals did he ever raise such topics and those too were not of a confidential nature. Our Guru Maharaja's main preaching was always from Bhagavad-gita, basic fundamental Gaudiya philosophy. Here are a few statements by our Guru Maharaja on this topic:
"Thoroughly study Bhagavad-gita, and after studying Bhagavad-gita, if you are fortunate enough to understand what is Krsna, then, Krsna says, surrender. That is the beginning of understanding Krsna. Don't try to understand the pastimes of Krsna with the gopis." (Class on Cc. Adi-lila 1.6, March 30, 1975)
"But as far as possible, very cautiously and very rarely we shall present. Caitanya Mahaprabhu's life we see that in public. He never discussed about Krsna's lila with the gopis. That was very confidential discussion amongst His own circle, Raya Ramananda, Svarupa Damodara, like that. And He inquired... Even a learned scholar, He discussed about the philosophy, that Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. But when there was a great devotee like Ramananda Raya, He relished gopis', I mean to say, intimate behavior with Krsna. So we should remember this, that public may misunderstand this. Therefore we have to present these things very cautiously, not very openly. They may misunderstand." (Discussion with BTG staff. Dec.24th 1969)
"We cannot understand the affairs of the spiritual world on the basis of our experience in the material world. The Lord's pastimes with the gopis are therefore misunderstood by mundane scholars and word-wranglers. The parakiya-rasa of the spiritual world should not be discussed, except by one who is very advanced in pure devotional service. The parakiya-rasa in the spiritual world and that in the material world are not comparable." (Cc. Madhya-lila 13.24, purport)
"Although Krsna is the purest of the pure, mundane people, thinking of Krsna's pastimes that appear immoral, themselves become polluted. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore never publicly discussed Krsna's dealings with the gopis. He used to discuss these dealings only with three confidential friends. He never discussed rasa-lila publicly, as professional reciters do, although they do not understand Krsna or the nature of the audience. However, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu encouraged the public chanting of the Holy Name on a huge scale for as many hours as possible." (Cc, Madhya-lila 4.134, purp.)
The so-called rasika-gurus claim that A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada wanted to give this rasa-katha to everyone. This is clearly not a fact, especially when we take into consideration the lack of adhikara of his audience. All the close disciples of our Guru Maharaja who were present during his acarya-lila will confirm that he never spoke on confidential subject matters to mixed audiences, as implied by the rasika camp. Our Guru Maharaja was a strick follower of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and as such he never strayed from his instruction.
We also find the same advise as given by our Guru Maharaja being given by his godbrother, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Goswami Maharaja in his Sri Damodarastakam-tika as follows:
"namo'nanta lilaya' vakye, sadharanatah yahara lilar ananta nai, sei ananta-maya-lila bhagavan sri krsna kei namaskara bujhaya / kintu srila sanatana goswami satyavrata munir antar nihita uddesyer prati drsti kariya evam nija bhavansare ut vakyer ekati niguta artha nirnaya kariyachen / yatha — "sri rasa-lilakei namaskara' / "ananta'-sabde — yahara anta nai va sesa nai, arthat nitya, asesa va asankhya ityadi / "lilaya' — sabdati "lila' — sabder vyutpati ei ye, "li'+'la' = "lila' / "la' — sabder artha — alingana kara — (li-dhatu kvipbhave "li') evam "la' sabder artha grahana kara (la-dhatu u = la) / sutaram "lila'-sabder dvarai gopi-ganer alingana grhana kara haya yahate sei rasa-kridadi lilakei namaskara bujhaitechen / ei janyai "ananta-lilaya' balite, tikar — "gokula visayika sarvapi lilodista asye ca nama iti "bhavah'" / likhiya sri sanatana goswami nijeu "madhurena samapayet' — vakyer sarthakata kariyachen /
arau ekati visaya esthale visayabhave laksya kara prayojana / damodastaker antim sloke srila goswamipada janaitechen yei sri krsner rasa-kridadi lila sarvapeksa srestha haile u taha "parama-gopatvena anarbhivancanakincideva samkete nodisan pranamati' — ihara tatparya ei ye, rasa-lilar parama gopiniyatva —hetu (satyavrata muni) kinkaranmatra sanketa athava ektumatra injita kariyachen / iha dvara sprstai pratiyamana haya ye, yathane-sekhane yakhana —takhana rasa-lilar sravana-kirtana kara nitanta avidhi / sudhu tahai nahe, anadhikari vyakti yadi kama dura karibar chalana kariya rasa-lila mane-mane u cinta, acarana athava anukaran karen, tabe tini rasa-lilar gaurava-hane karar aparadhe niscayi adhah patita haiben / evam akalapakka prakrta-sahajiya-vader nyaya kamuk u grhasakta haiya pariben / rasa-lilar sravana-kirtaner karana u adhikara nirnaya —prasange srimad bhagavatam sei rasa-lilari sodhe yaha varnita haiyache taha visesabhave aloca / yatha — naitat samacarej jatu manasapi hy anisvarah vinasyaty acaran maudhyad yatharudro "bdhi-jam visam ihara tatparya ei ye, "isvara' arthat prakrta-yogya, ksamata-sampanna adhikara na hailemaner dvarau kakhan u rasa-lila, cinta, acarana va anusilana karibe na / saksat siva samudrakhita visa-paner ekmatra adhikara / kintu anadhikari arudra vyakti arthat apatra "mahapatra' sajiya yadi rasa-lilar sravana-kirtanarupa visa-pana karena taha haile mrtyu arthat asanna-mrtyurupa samsara-baddha-dasa avasyantari / rasa-lila sarva-lila-cudamani evam tahara phala u sarva-cudamani / sutaram tahara adhikara keu sarva-cudamani haite haibe / ye-kona hrd-roga-grantha, kamuk, apatra vyaktir pakse rasa-lila kona prakarai alocaniya nahe / ajnata dura karibara janya visva-vidyalayer sarvoccha siksa labha kara ekantu avasyaka haileu prathamika vidyasthike athava alpajna vyaktike sarvaccha srenite bhatti haite deuya haya na / sutaram indriyasakta svalpajna vyaktike rasa-lilar sarvottama siksa deuya yukti-sangata nahe /
"The statement namo 'nanta-lilaya is usually understood to mean "obeisances unto ananta-lila-bhagavan Sri Krsna", or He whose pastimes are limitless. But Srila Sanatana Goswami looks toward the esoteric intention of Satyavrata Muni and also according to his own mood of realization has revealed a very confidential purport. Thus, "Obeisances unto sri rasa-lila." The word ananta indicates that which has no end; namely perpetual, inexhaustible, countless, and so forth. In the expression lilaya, the word lila is of the fourth case ending in the singular number (in conjunction with the word namah). The derivation of lila is - li + la = lila. The meaning of the word li is to embrace, and the meaning of la is to accept. Therefore, the word lila is indicative of that sportive pastime in which Lord Krsna accepts the embraces of the gopis; thus it is understood to mean in this context that obeisances are being offered unto the rasa-lila and other associated pastimes. For this reason it is stated ananta-lilaya. And as Srila Sanatana Goswami has written in his tika , "It is suggested to include all the pastimes associated with the realm of Gokula Vrndavana. I offer my obeisances unto all those lilas; such a mood is most certainly expressed in this way.' By writing this, he has himself fulfilled the quotation of madhurena samapayet, all undertakings should be completed sweetly.
Yet another topic is necessarily indicated at this point. Srila (Sanatana) Goswamipada has revealed that the final sloka of Damodarastakam shows Sri Krsna's pastimes headed by the rasa-lila to be the topmost of all. He states "Since these are the topmost of confidential topics, they are not mentioned directly. Therefore such confidential pastimes are referred to by a mere hint only, as they are offered obeisances in the words namo 'nanta-lilaya.' The meaning of this is that because the rasa-lila is the most highly confidential pastime of the Lord, therefore Satyavrata Muni has mentioned it only with the briefest clue or tiniest glimpse. By so doing, he has made it known that it is always inappropriate to casually hear and chant about the rasa-lila here and there, whenever and wherever. Not only that, but if an unqualified person deceives himself with an attempt to banish lust, but then contemplates, performs or imitates the rasa-lila, then such a person certainly becomes degraded due to the offense of minimizing the glories of the factually transcendental rasa-lila. Eventually he will fall down to become a lusty debauchee and attached householder, just like the prakrta-sahajiyas who prematurely dabble in the highest truth.
In regard to ascertaining who is qualified to hear and chant about the Lord's rasa-lila, it is especially noteworthy to examine the statements of Srimad Bhagavatam presented at the conclusion of the rasa-lila description (10.33.30):
naitat samacarej jatu manasapi hy-anisvarah
vinasyaty-acaran maudhyad yatharudro 'bdhi-jam visam
"One who is not a great controller should never imitate the behavior of ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behavior, he will simply destroy himself, just as a person who is not Rudra would destroy himself if he tried to drink an ocean of poison."
The purport of this is that one who is not an isvara truly qualified by being endowed with divine potency should never even mentally contemplate, perform or imitate the Lord's rasa-lila. Only Lord Siva himself is able to drink an entire ocean of poison. If an unqualified person who is arudra (not Siva) falsely considers himself to be greatly qualified and tries to drink poison in the form of hearing and chanting about the rasa-lila, then he would certainly die — that is, he would become tightly bound within the death-like condition of samsara or gross material existence.
"Lord Sri Krsna's rasa-lila pastimes are the crest-jewel of all His pastimes, and the benefits of cultivating such pastimes are the crest jewel of all benefits. Therefore those who are qualified to relish these topics will be the crest jewels among all devotees. The Lord's rasa-lila should never be studied in any way by those who are seized by the disease of the heart, who are lusty for personal gratification, or otherwise unfit. In matters of ordinary education, if one wants to dispel one's ignorance it is necessary to gradually master the highest knowledge of the university; but a beginning student or someone of little knowledge is never admitted prematurely into the highest class. Similarly, it is never appropriate to give instructions about the most elevated topic, the rasa-lila, to persons of little knowledge who are simply attached to the external bodily senses." (Srila B. P. Kesava Maharaja, Sri Damodarastakam-tika, Verse 8)
"One day a devotee was studying the commentaries on rasa-lila, bhramara-gita and so on, and Srila Gurudeva said, 'The qualification to hear topics such as rasa-lila will come when sri nama-kirtana has freed the heart from anarthas, and suddha-sattva has appeared there. Otherwise the transcendental pastimes of Sri Radha-Govinda will appear to be the activities of a worldly hero and heroine, and will only give rise to false ideas. The conception of rasa is only possible in the siddha-deha, the perfect state. It is impossible to perceive srngara-rasa in a material body. Only a person who is free from the lower types of enjoyment and is in then stage of bhava is qualified to discuss sambhoga-rasa.'"
(Acarya Kesari Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Goswami — His life and Teachings, Part 4, P.343)
In this chapter we have established, with reference to our acaryas, that the serious student in Krsna consciousness does not attempt to approach the higher topics of lila without the proper adhikara, qualifications. The proper adhikara has been mentioned as three: anartha-nivrtti, ruci, and lobha. First one should become purified of any misconceptions, lust, or materials desires within the heart, anartha-nivrtti. Further more one should have ruci, or a real taste for Krsna consciousness having abandoned the taste for lower subject matters. And last but not least one should aquire lobha, the intense spiritual greed to hear about Krsna-lila. The wise student does not attempt to omit any step in the progressive development of Krsna consciousness. One who does so is at risk of being lost forever.