Gradations of the Holy Name
There are those that think that Hari-nama, Krsna-nama, and Siva-nama are one and the same, like the followers of the Ramakrishna Mission or the Sankara school. They teach that, but such an idea originates in the plane of misunderstanding. Suddha-nama, the pure Name, must have its original form in nirguna-bhumika, far beyond the misconception of maya. The influence of maya reaches up to Viraja; then there is Brahmaloka, then Paravyoma. The real Name must have its origin in Paravyoma, and Krsna-nama originates in Goloka, the most original plane of the whole existence. To be really Krsna-nama, it must have its origin in the highest plane of Vrndavana.

Nama-akara, the mere physical sound, is not the Name proper. The real Name is necessary not only for us to get out of this world of maya or misunderstanding, but for the attainment of the service of Krsna in Vrndavana. The Name that has its origin in the Vrndavana plane, only that can take us there. Otherwise, if the spirit in the Name, the sound, is of any other type, it may take us to that mundane place only.

This is quite scientific; it is not unreasonable. A mere word is not the Name. The meaning and the essence of the meaning, the deep conception of the meaning, that is everything; it is all in all. It is all-important to serve our purpose.

Name Proper from a Bonafide Guru
We shall try to take upadesa, instruction, from a real source, not from just anyone. Asat sangete krsna nama nahi haya: we cannot find real Krsna-nama in the association of those that do not have it. The external sound, the superficial sound may come out, but not the substance. The external cover of the sound, the ordinary sound, that may not be Krsna. Nama-aparadha, nama-abhasa. It is ordinary sound, not Vaikuntha sound, not spiritual sound.

Where sound is surcharged with spiritual knowledge, with feeling, that is Krsna-nama, that is Krsna. The superficial imitation of Krsna-nama is not Krsna; it is mundane sound. That is the difference between mundane sound and spiritual sound. When we have spiritual life within and we speak about Krsna, our words are surcharged with spiritual substance.

There is a story about a doctor who had a dispensary where he saw many patients and administered much medicine. One day, the doors of the dispensary were open, and the doctor was absent. One monkey entered there, and monkeys are good imitators. The monkey entered, and taking a seat on the doctor's chair, he imitated the doctor, giving medicine here and there. But the monkey's treatment is not that of the doctor. The external aspect is there, imitation, but the inner aspect is absent. Similarly, spiritual understanding must be there within the physical actions.

Krsna-nama is not only mundane sound; it is something else. It is necessary that we take the sound from a bonafide guru who has spiritual realization, whose words are surcharged with spiritual substance. It is required. Otherwise, it will be all in vain; it is only cultivation of mundane sound. Vaikuntha nama grahanam asesa. It is said in the sastra that you should take the Name identified with Infinite Vaikuntha-nama; that sound that has a connection with the Infinite, not the mundane limited sound, connected to the limited world. An ordinary person, a student, must come to a real professor who will be able to offer real education, not to anyone and everyone. This is the norm.

A person of high intelligence can discover something from ordinary events. From ordinary incidents, an expert can find out the higher truth, just like Newton. When the apple fell from the tree, the realization came to him: "Oh, the earth is drawing it, attracting it." Ordinary people see an apple falling, but no such realization comes that the earth is drawing it, attracting it. Newton discovered gravitation. Observation of the ordinary gives new light to an expert, a person with a higher brain. In the same way, the higher spiritualist can obtain deep realizations from the apparently commonplace. But for ordinary persons it is not possible. They should go to a proper source.

It is mentioned in the Upanisads, in Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, how and with what attitude the disciple should approach the acarya, the spiritual preceptor. If the acarya has practical and scriptural knowledge of the truth, if this qualification is there, he is not bogus, but a real acarya.

We must approach a real doctor to cure disease, not a monkey imitating a doctor. It is common sense. If we have thirst for spiritual knowledge, then we must go to a proper spiritualist, not one that will harm us, avaisnava mukhod girnam, an imitation acarya. It is common sense; progress is possible when a real transaction is made. Sometimes that is very difficult. A good professor is necessary, but if the student is not up to standard, then the professor can't do anything. Both must be qualified, student and professor; only then can scholarship be imparted.

Advantage of Kali-yuga
In this Kali-yuga, there is a special dispensation. Kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet. Mahaprabhu Himself comes to distribute it. It is a better situation than during other ages. It is stated in sastra: yatra sankirtanenaiva sarva-svarto 'bhilabhyate, in the Golden Age, those persons that are arya guna jnah sara bhaginah, who can judge things according to quality by clever understanding, they will feel, "I want to dance in the Kali-yuga. There's a special dispensation from the highest." Yatra sankirtanenaiva. "Welcome to Kali-yuga, the Iron Age."

Those sadhus who have a deeper understanding hanker after chanting in Kali-yuga. "I don't want birth in the Golden Age, but in the Iron Age, yatra sankirtanenaiva. Only by the method of chanting the Name of Hari, everything may be attained, sarva-svarto 'bhilabhyate. The whole thing is God's special dispensation. So Kali-yuga is special and I want to take birth in that Kali."

Sukadeva Gosvami also declares in the assembly of those authentic scholars, kaler dosa-nidhe rajan. This Iron Age is full of defects, but it has one great advantage, asti hy-eko mahan gunah: only by taking to preaching about Krsna, one can be freed of all undesirable things and attain the highest goal, kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet. What is that Krsna sankirtana, that preaching about Krsna? It must be very special, that which can give us so much benefit. What is that thing? We must inquire very attentively. This is not a scheming thing, a deceitful thing. It is a fact, an ontological fact.

Without the help of anything else, only by the chanting of Krsna-nama, preaching about Krsna, we shall undo all undesirable things and attain the highest end of life. What is that? How do we attempt that? With such deep attention we have to inquire about this. Not to trample it. It is not a trifling thing. It is described that it has so much prospect-dive deeply to understand it. It must be done with that sort of feeling. We must "die to live" with all seriousness. Die to live—with such seriousness we may attain that goal.

What is kirtana? It is distribution to the environment. Kirtana is accepting everything from the higher plane and distributing it to ordinary persons. That should be done in a serious mood. This is krsna-katha; this is Krsna consciousness, Krsna consciousness from the proper source. Derive it from the proper source and distribute it at large.

To preach is not an easy thing in this Kali-yuga, because the environment is very negative. Kala means quarrel—there are so many opinions. All are quarreling to establish their own superiority. They are trying hard to establish their different types of thought. In the midst of them all, we have to distribute this, to do it in earnest. We must do something factual. With much energy this dedication must come from our heart with all sincerity. Then we shall get that highest achievement. It is not an ordinary thing, but a reality.

Sraddha is the Minimum Demand
Krsna consciousness is causeless; that is, it has no beginning, and apratihata, it has no end. No beginning, no end. It is the central flow or vibration or wave. Any separate interest, separate consciousness, that is anartha. Artha means necessity; whatever is not a necessity, but is posturing as a necessity based on separate interest-that is anartha. What is necessary is to avoid that track of separate interest that misleads us, and to learn to have the Infinite reading, the reading of the Infinite-to identify with the universal flow, the universal wave.

When we are carried away by different waves of separate consciousness, that is anartha, that which is not necessary. The only necessity is to merge in the wave of universal interest. It is for Itself, for Himself. Aham hi sarva yajnanam bhokta ca prabhur eva ca. "I'm the only enjoyer of all these sacrifices or movements in this world. I'm the only enjoyer and everything belongs to Me, unconditionally." That is God's position. He is paramount, the highest harmonizing center. And we must all submit cent-percent to Him. Any deviation from that is anartha.

Anartha means meaninglessness, that which has no meaning. Meaning, serving a purpose, is to catch that universal wave, to have connection only with the universal movement. Anything other than that is anartha, undesirable, unnecessary. It will serve no purpose. We are in connection with anartha, the undesirable things that won't serve any real purpose.

Our real cause, the purpose of our lives, our satisfaction, and our existence will be found within the universal wave of the Absolute. That is Krsna consciousness, the most universal, fundamental wave. We have to catch that wave. Our goal, our satisfaction, the fulfillment of our life is to be found only there, in that plane, not in this superficial plane of nationality or family interest or social service. All these are provincial interests.

But to stop one's movement altogether, to do away with one's own existence, to attain samadhi, cessation of all activity-that is suicidal. We have to give up enjoyment as well as renunciation; give up evil doing and also the abstention from all action. In a nation, so many workers may be failing to follow the proper rules for production, and that is bad, it is disorder. The product will be bad. However, to go on strike won't produce good results either. No work, that is also bad. To work in the interest of the country, only that is good.

From our local, separate interest, we must go to the universal interest, to the interest of the Absolute. Avoid all local interest, however great it may seem, whether self-centered, family-centered, village-centered, province-centered, or human-centered.

Mahaprabhu advised us to purify ourselves with the help of sound divine. But the sound should be genuine, transcendental, Krsna conscious, the real wave. There is a minimal demand from us for our purification in this age of controversy. Kali means quarrel, controversy. Everything will create some doubt; everyone wants some proof; everyone has a very suspicious mind.

Take advantage of this sound. A minimal demand is required of us, because the process is very generous. The minimal demand, the minimal admission fee is sraddha, faith. If we do this, if we perform this sankirtana, then everything will be done. That basic faith must be there. That attitude will help us. There should be heartfelt cooperation, sincere cooperation with the Krsna consciousness agents. That can purify us very easily.

The minimal demand from us is to have the faith that this movement of Krsna consciousness will purify us. If we participate in this movement, everything will be done. Such a generous, wide conviction, and sincere cooperation with the agents can help us in a very short time. The cooperation with the divine sound, the sound aspect of the Supreme, is easily approachable for beginners. From that, many other aspects of the Infinite will come to our understanding.

Begin with the sound aspect of the universal consciousness. The sound aspect is easily approachable; others will come gradually. Our approach must be sincere, heartfelt. We are in trouble, and we need this. That will give us real relief from all troubles. It will put an end to all the troubles that we're experiencing now, and also those that we may have to experience in the future.

Qualifications for Chanting the Name
"Oh Govinda. What can I do? There is not a single offender like myself. My Lord, I am ashamed to take my offenses before You and have them forgiven. It is shameful even to point out before You that I am so heinous, that I am such an offender. I feel ashamed to recollect my own bad deeds. I feel ashamed that I shall take them to You and pray for their forgiveness. I am ashamed. Such a class of sinner I am. What more shall I say to You, my Lord? I am such a sinner."

This is the nature of the high devotees; they think themselves unfit for service. What is the way? What is our destination? Progress towards this side, the negative, submissive side. Our place is there, at the farthest end of the negative side, the smallest of the small, the lowest of the low.

Where do we cast our glance, our look? What should we do? Our goal is this, to reach that negative side, sincerely: self-abnegation to the extreme. This is the measurement, to become the lowest of the low. The goal is to realize our proper position there: lowest of the low. Is it possible at all? Is it imaginary, an imaginary quantity? For what purification may we aspire?

Analyze, analyze, and discard. Analyze and throw out all egoistic and assertive tendencies: "I am something; I am someone. I have something to be proud of." These have to be eliminated, and eliminated completely. It is not an easy thing. To become big is easy, but it is all false, like racketeering. To say, "I am a big man," is very easy. But to say, "I am nothing," to accept this creed in its true color, its true nature, that is very difficult. "I am no one; I am nothing!" It is very difficult.

Vaisnava haite bara mane jiru sadha, trnad-api sloke tripure gelo bara. There is a familiar saying in Bengal: "I had a great aspiration to become a Vaisnava, but when I came across the verse describing the qualifications of a Vaisnava, trnad api sunicena, taror api sahisnuna, I was disappointed. It is not possible to be humbler than a blade of grass, and more tolerant than a tree."

Amanina manadena. Give honor to everyone, but don't aspire after honor. In this attitude we should take the Name of the Lord, of Krsna. Then our desire will be fulfilled. We have to take the Name of Krsna with such an attitude. We must be humbler than a blade of grass and more tolerant than a tree. When the tree is cut down, it still gives shade to the logger. And it doesn't beg anyone for water. Such forbearance! In this way we have to take the Name of Krsna, and we shall find His help at once, in no time. The standard, the qualification for taking the Holy Name, has been recommended thus.

trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih

"One can chant the Holy Name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking himself lower than the straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the Holy Name of the Lord constantly." (Siksastaka 3)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has explained that we are actually lower than the straw in the street, because in our present existence we are vikrta, or deranged. But the straw is at least passive and maintaining its natural position. We have lost our proper function and become of negative value; we are lacking the positive value of straw because we are adverse to our natural position.

We are going against our own interest with our intelligence. We have intelligence, but it is misguided, opposed to the proper order of things. The straw is poised; it cannot move willfully. But we can move in a wrong way, so we are actually in a more heinous position than the straw. We use our assets willingly to misguide ourselves, but the straw maintains its fixed position without deviation.

In the worldly sense we may hold a position superior to that of a blade of grass or a tree, but what of that? All our credits are being misused for our selfishness. So we are lower than straw. We are armed, but armed for suicide. A madman should not possess a dagger. He is dangerous. He could stab himself at any moment. He is mad.

Krsna is Everywhere
Krsna, Krsna, Krsna. Where is Krsna? Come to that level, come to that plane, and we will see that Krsna is everywhere. But our eyes and our senses are attracted by the charms of different places, and we have no time to look towards Krsna. Sabatha krsne mukti kari janma. Everywhere there is perception of Krsna, but our sight is captured, attracted by so many floating charms, that we cannot see Krsna.

Our prejudice for the outside world has covered our eyes, drawing all our attention towards them, and we can't see Krsna. We can't see the real well-wisher, the real guardian, the real friend, the real lover. We are so busy with our transactions with external things that we have no time at all to look towards Him. We are ignoring our best friend.

This transaction with the outer environment is continued by our false ego, the false personality. That is the position of a person in bondage, a fallen soul. Our true self is not represented in the transaction that is going on in our name. The senses, the mind and intelligence, are surcharged with other interests, and they are conducting a false transaction. This is a hopeless position. Sarvopadhi vinir-muktam tat-paratvena nirmalam.

Anyata rupam, that which is just like a disease, undesirable foreign things, have come to cover us. That is upadhi, a foreign and undesirable element. So we must disown our foreign covers, all these false identifications with the outer dress. Disown them all; do away with them. They are unnecessary. We thought them to be our friends, but they are our enemies. We must be concerned with the person within, the soul, and that is not illusion, but truth proper. That is anyata rupam. Successfully eliminating these enemies, we must come to our proper positive position in the world of love and beauty.

Hankering In Surrender Is Our Wealth
When we reach the highest position of disappointment, then sometimes, somehow or other, from the core of our heart we pray, "Oh Lord, I am helpless, save me! I am under the control of so many enemies in the form of friends. Such a hopeless position I hold, my Lord. From time immemorial I am serving all these masters, but they are not satisfied with my service. Now I find myself in this helpless position, my Lord. You should only come on Your own accord, and assert Yourself. Then they will fly away in fear of You. Otherwise I have no hope." This sort of ardent prayer from the core of the heart towards the Savior, that is what is necessary for us.

With our faith and earnestness we can aspire after that mercy. If we increase the quality of our negativity, the feeling that we are so low, the positive will be automatically attracted. We must try to increase the power of our position as a negative unit.

Trnad api sunicena (feeling lower than the grass), dainyam (humility), atmanivedana (surrender). Hankering in surrender is our wealth. We are the sakti, the potency, and potency refers to the negative unit of the Positive, the Potent. We should increase our negative side, our hankering. The Positive will be automatically attracted to us.

Whatever beautiful and valuable things we come across, we cannot but surrender ourselves to them. That is the criterion. If we find anything higher in our vicinity, our appreciation means surrendering unto that. According to the degree of our surrender, we have to measure what degree of quality of truth we have found. That can be measured only according to the degree and intensity of surrender, how much we can surrender to what we have found, to the point of no return. And the true devotees know no satisfaction or fulfillment. They feel no trace of satisfaction that they have achieved anything. Never. The inner sweetness of the truth and its infinite characteristic are such. The truth attracts. It can attract to the highest degree and magnitude.

Accept Slavery to Its Perfection
The highest qualification within us is our acceptance of the slave mentality to the Absolute. This is the only way to hanker for the association of the highest existence. We must be ready to accept slavery to its perfection, and then we will be allowed to enter into that domain. Otherwise, we have no hope. It is not very easy to embrace the slave mentality, eternal slavery.

Slavery is our future prospect. Are we ready to think like this? We have to be so broadminded and hopeful that such a higher entity exists. Our hope and faith will have to be of such a magnanimous nature to enter that land. We will sign the bond, the contract to accept eternal slavery! We want to enter that land! We have to search our fortune, and sign the bond of slavery. The company there is so high that even as slaves we want that association. We earnestly hanker for that sweet land where our meager persons can become slaves. Such intense faith is necessary, where all other experience, even knowledge, fails. Only faith can carry us there.

Consciousness of separate interest (dvitiyabhinivesatah) has turned us away from Krsna. The common interest is solely in Him. Then only our service will be bhakti. Without that, everything is lost. Saranagati, surrender, must be present in order to have living devotion, otherwise hearing and chanting are only forms, not life. Therefore saranagati means exclusive connection and identification with the interest of Krsna. Since we do not directly see Krsna, we serve the guru and the Vaisnava who are dear to Him. According to the degree of our self-abnegation in self-surrender, we will be benefited, and the specific characteristics of santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, or madhurya-rasa will develop.

We must admit our Master's right to make or mar. We are slaves. Mahaprabhu says, jivera svarupa haya-krsnera nitya-dasa: the eternal nature of the soul is servitude to Krsna. That is our constitutional position. Have we enough boldness to admit it? Can we admit that our Master has full rights over us? "Yes! My Master has full rights over me. I am ready to go to eternal hell to supply His slightest pleasure." We have heard that the gopis were ready to supply the dust of their feet as 'medicine' to alleviate Krsna's 'headache,' even if it meant that they would be condemned to the lowest regions of hell for that transgression. We may find such narrations very sweet, but to accept them is horrifying. Jivera svarupa haya-krsnera nitya-dasa; no risk: no gain. Whole risk, whole gain. Such confidence is necessary. A free, clear, and bold choice; are we ready for that?

Do we want to reside in the land of immortality? Do we want janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi (birth, death, old age and infirmity), or immortality? If we want immortality, we will have to pay for the ticket. We will have to take the visa. We will have to prepare for such a categorical beginning. And the bond we have to sign is slavery to Krsna. Jivera svarupa haya-krsnera nitya-dasa. If we want to go to that mystic land, the land of infinite hope, prosperity and prospect, we will have to go as slaves, because that plane is made of a higher stuff than we are.

The Power of the Holy Name
Srila Jiva Gosvami has written that the ordinary sadhus, the yogis, the brahmanas, the Sankarites, and those of other schools, have all concluded that by dint of one's knowledge, one's yoga, or one's devotion, the results of all previous actions can be destroyed. All, that is, save and except prarabdha-karma, those actions that have determined one's present body and are already attached to the body from before this birth.

The Bhakti school disagrees. We say that by the power of Krsna-nama, even the impurities attached to one's birth, race, creed, caste, or any other thing, can be done away with completely. It is not possible by yoga, jnana, or any other thing, but by Krsna-nama, all impurities can be obliterated, even prarabdha-karma. When all prarabdha-karma is purified, then one comes to the position of the highest birth, that of the brahmana.

Jiva Gosvami says that at this point one comes to the status of a brahmana boy. A brahmana boy is not considered eligible to do the work of a brahmana, until and unless he is given the sacred thread and mantra. When he is invested with upanayana-samskara, only then is he eligible to worship Narayana, perform sacrifice, and carry out other duties reserved for brahmanas.

By taking the Holy Name we are purified and attain the position of a brahmana boy. But, Srila Jiva Gosvami points out, because we do not find any system to give the sacred thread to those not born in brahmana families, we may have to wait until our next birth to perform brahminical worship. The Gosvami admits that whatever caste one may be, if we take the Name of Krsna then we discard any defects of birth, and attain the position of a brahmana lad.

Who Is A Brahmana
Continuing this line of thought, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada said there is no harm in giving those not born in brahmana families the sacred thread. Our Guru Maharaja came to introduce that. He said that two things were indulged by not introducing the sacred thread initiation. First, those who receive Vaisnava initiation may think that they are situated lower than the brahmanas. On the contrary, they should understand that they are no longer in a lower position and they are fit to perform all the various services. Second, the so-called brahmanas, who are proud of their body consciousness, may think that those who have received Vaisnava diksa are situated lower. Thus, they commit offenses against the Vaisnavas.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami boldly came forward to introduce this upanayana-samskara system so that brahmanas and other so-called higher castes should not have the opportunity to commit vaisnava-aparadha, and so that those who have received the Vaisnava mantra should not consider themselves lower and unfit for brahminical worship. There is no contradiction with the rules of sastra. According to siddhanta, it is not wrong to invest Vaisnavas with the sacred thread, but there was no system previously established. Our Guru Maharaja established that.

brahmananam sahasrebhyah satrayaji visisyate
satra-yaji-sahasrebhyah sarva-vedanta-paragah
sarva-vedanta-vit-ko ya visnu-bhakto visisyate
vaisnavanam sahasrebhya ekantyeko visisyate

"The real devotee of Visnu is superior to millions of ordinary vaidantika brahmanas. A practicing brahmana is better than a birth brahmana. Practice means to perform sacrifices and worship Krsna. Those who worship Krsna with the help of their consciousness are superior to those who worship with material things. Those who are vedanta-vit think that their goal is undifferentiated consciousness, but if one can attain differentiated consciousness, one must hold a higher position than millions of vaidantika brahmanas. They suffer from the disease of thinking that spirituality means non-differentiated Brahman. The Visnu bhaktas, who can see the personality in consciousness, are far superior. Amongst the devotees, those who regulate themselves according to the scriptures are of the order of Vaikuntha, and those who surrender exclusively to the service of the Absolute Entity with innermost love and faith, are of the highest order." (Garuda-Purana)

How Sound Enters the Disciple's Heart
Divine realization is not an acquired thing; it comes down by selection from above. It comes down in the continuance of the disciplic line. The Lord supplies it through His agent. It comes down to us because He supplies it. If the Lord wishes to spread His Holy Name—if it is His pleasure to spread His grace below-then out of that necessity it comes down from Him through His agent. The qualification of the agent is his faith. He must especially have faith in his own Gurudeva, the next upper center. He must experience all his activities through the next upper center and prove his faithfulness to him. Only then and in that way will the supply come down.

We are requested not to see guru as limited in his ordinary personality, but as the transparent mediator of the highest function in his line. We can see this only if our vision is deep. According to the disciple's depth of sraddha, he will see the Lord present in his Gurudeva. The guru principle, guru-tattva, is very special, very noble, very broad and very deep.
Strangely, the agent may sometimes not know what things are passing through him by this arrangement.

aham vedmi suko vetti vyaso vetti na vetti va
bhaktya bhagavatam grahyam na buddhya na ca  ikaya

Lord Siva says, "I know the meaning of the Bhagavatam and Sukadeva also knows it. As for Vyasadeva, he may or may not know it. The Bhagavatam can only be known through bhakti, not by mundane intelligence or by reading many commentaries." Vyaso vetti na vetti va: Vyasa may or may not know the meaning of the Bhagavatam, but the Bhagavatam is passing through Vyasa. This is tatastha-vicara, an impartial judgement. From the absolute standpoint, it has been said that even Vyasa may not know the things that come through him to grace others. Although this may sometimes be the case, we should still not admit so easily that Vyasa does not know.

I once said this to my Guru Maharaja. We were in Darjeeling and I had composed a Sanskrit sloka about Bhaktivinoda Thakura. I had shown him the poem and it greatly pleased him. At that time one disciple was his secretary; Prabhupada would dictate and that disciple would write letters on his behalf. That day a letter had come from Vana Maharaja in England that showed knowledge of some confidential information. Prabhupada asked who had supplied Vana Maharaja with this information. His secretary answered, "Prabhupada, you yourself wrote this news to him." Prabhupada replied, "No, no, no. I did not write this thing to Vana Maharaja." The secretary humbly replied, "But Prabhupada, you dictated the letter and I wrote it. I remember. You were giving this news to him." Again Prabhupada said, "No, I don't remember." When I heard this, I just remarked, "vyaso vetti na vetti va," and Prabhupada laughed.

Paramananda Brahmacari, one of Prabhupada's most intimate disciples, was also there, serving as his personal assistant. He said, "Sridharah sakalam vetti—but Sridhara Maharaja knows everything." And then I replied, "Sri-nrsimha-paramananda-prasadatah—by the mercy of Paramananda."

In this way things may come down through the acarya to grace others. Mahaprabhu said to Sanatana Gosvami, "I feel the grace of Krsna flowing through Me to you. I do not know all these things, they are not Mine." This is why it is said, vyaso vetti na vetti va. The Vyasa who has written Bhagavatam may or may not know its meaning. It is coming from others through him. This is sometimes possible, but not always. Krsna is so independent. All glories to His independence!

We are His servants. What responsibility is with us, His instruments? He may act in whatever way He wills. Everything is going on according to His will; and if He wills otherwise, things will happen in another way. Everything is part of His lila, His play. The Absolute is lilamaya. Lila is the continuous and irresistible flow of ananda, supreme bliss.

Once the Vyasa Puja, the birth ceremony of our Guru Maharaja, was celebrated in the Cuttack Matha. Many important local citizens were invited, including Janaki Bose, the father of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, who was a leading attorney in Cuttack at that time. All these people had taken their seats on a carpet on the floor, whereas Prabhupada had been given a throne for his seat.

In his address, Prabhupada said, "I am given so much honor, garments, worship, sandalwood and flowers. Many nice things are being read about me here in my presence. And I am accepting this worship before so many members of the town's elite. Even a beast in the zoo would be ashamed to accept such honors, such respect, in front of so many gentlemen. Should I too not be ashamed? Why then am I accepting them? In fact, I accept them only on behalf of my guru, to show that he deserves this honor. This honor is for my guru and I accept it only to send it on to him. I am nothing without my guru. I am being worshiped because I have received his words, his advice. I am being honored because I have followed his directions, otherwise I would not. Therefore, though it is humiliating and causes me much heartache, I still accept these honors to show his exalted position."

Bhakti Under the Higher Agent Only
When I joined the mission, I wanted to read the books of the mission, including Bhagavatam, but I did not find any encouragement from the authority. The real thing, the real requirement is to use our energy for the service of the Lord. By that process only may we go up, not by satisfying our intellectual necessities. Jnana-sunya-bhakti, an illiterate man may achieve a higher position in the realm of devotion than a literate man.

By the command of the Lord's agent we may engage in literary culture, even as Mahaprabhu instructed Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis. Of course, they had acquired their knowledge to utilize it in the service of the sampradaya, the Gaudiya disciplic succession. He also asked Raghunatha Bhatta to hear the Bhagavatam from one who knew its real purport.

Jiva Gosvami was the only exception. Mahaprabhu asked him to study independently before he joined the Vrndavana party. He left his home and went to Benares, the center of all sorts of learning at that time. He studied different sastra and then joined the others in Vrndavana. There, under the direction of Rupa and Sanatana, he utilized his previously acquired knowledge in the service of the sampradaya. When we get inspiration from above to study, that study is devotion. Otherwise a whim to study, to acquire scholarship, may not be bhakti proper, suddha-bhakti.

The higher agent, the Vaisnava, must utilize my energy. This energy must be spent to satisfy the higher world. Then it will be bhakti, it will be devotion. My mental imagination may bring sukrti, but it won't be suddha-bhakti if I have a mind to help the sampradaya in a scholarly way. At my own risk I must go on with my study. It is accepted that when one is connected with the higher agent, then it will be considered devotion; otherwise it is not. It is an empirical attempt with some sort of good imagination. But this is not pure bhakti, pure devotion. Pure devotion is to carry out the orders descending from above, from the higher agent. The waves are coming; catch them and then act accordingly.

Our Godbrother Nisikant Sanyal said that when we are requested by a Vaisnava to write or read any book, then that constitutes devotion. But when of our own accord we read any devotional book, that won't give us devotion. That will be karma or jnana. To surrender unconditionally to the instruction coming down to us, that is bhakti. All else is imitation. We find this warning everywhere. This we should understand.

Even reading the scriptures is not devotion unless done on the order of the Vaisnava. Independent reading is only knowledge-seeking. By following the Vaisnava, our bond with the Lord is guaranteed. Sadhu-sange krsna-nama: in the company of the devotees, chanting the Name or whatever service we render is guaranteed to reach Him. And what is the guarantee of that? The reply will be, "His agent is saying so, and I am therefore engaged. I am not my master; I am his servant." Such consciousness must be genuine, as far as possible. Success depends on this principle.

If we are appointed to preach, to do relief work here, we will execute that duty solely under the appointment of, and in the interest of, that higher plane, without any vanity. We should think, "I must put myself wholly at the disposal of the higher plane, and I shall not be eager to become an acarya, a spiritual master. Otherwise, there is the danger of committing nama-aparadha, offense against the Lord's Name."

Asraddadhane vimukhe 'py asrnvati, yas copadesah siva-namaparadhah. It is an offense to give the Holy Name to the faithless. It betrays the motivation to gain a position in the higher sphere. This is a type of mundane attachment, a spiritual commerce, as is the habit of caste gosvamis and other spurious lines. Rather, the healthy attitude should be, "If I am appointed from above, then I shall serve as appointed, and that too, only for the interest of those who have appointed me. I am entering that rank solely for the interest of that higher land." That is the pure and perfect approach.

Srila Sridhara Svami, the renowned commentator of Srimad Bhagavatam, has stated, sa carpitaiva sati yadi kriyeta, na tu krta sati pascad arpyeta: "Devotional service must be first offered to the Lord, then performed; not performed and offered afterwards." We should already be committed when we come to serve. We should not collect capital and later try to utilize it in the service of the Lord. The commitment is to Him, to Krsna.

We have come to know about Him for Him, not for our sake or for anyone else. We preach only because of the instruction from above. Only if we receive an instruction from that higher quarter, "Go and preach," shall we do so. Only then will our preaching be service, and never if it is done for name and fame. We must have engagement from the higher office, and only on their behalf we shall preach; then it will be genuine preaching. Otherwise, it will be trading. Na sa bhrtyah sa vai vanik: Prahlada Maharaja has warned us against this trading mentality in the name of spiritual truth.

Devotion is a separate and distinct plane where we live only for the center. We aspire to live and move only as agents of the center, never disconnected from the center. This is Krsna consciousness. Reality is for Itself, and we must strictly abide by this rule. He is for Himself, everything is for Him, we are for Him. Whatever we do must also be for Him. We must strictly adhere to this conception, and always examine whether what we are doing is for Him or for any other part, however important we may think it to be.

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