May 22 2001 - Krishna Talk 19
Anartha nivrtti

Several months ago we wrote an article called, "Hearing from A Rasika Acarya" wherein we put great emphasis on the qualifications of the person who hears Hari-katha of a confidential nature. Our emphasis was on anartha-nivrtti, overcoming mundane impediments in the heart: first deserve, then desire.

Since then an old friend has taken much time and effort to compile a very lengthy essay to de-emphasize the necessity of anartha-nivrtti. Personally we feel that, although this essay was well written, it nonetheless amounted to 31 pages of 'begging the question.' A response, is available online: "The Standard for Higher Lila,"

Anartha thakara kale lila-gana kore na, "While still contaminated with anarthas, one should never sing songs about the Lord's confidential pastimes." This verse was composed by our param-guru Sri Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakura in Prakrta-rasa-sata-dushini, a masterful discussion of one hundred defects of the sahajiya school. [Available online: Prakrta-rasa-sata-dushini ]

When two disciples of a particular guru disagree on any issue they may always turn to their param-guru for clarification. In this issue the param-guru is Sarasvati Thakura and his opinion is stated above, 'anartha thakara kale lila-gana kore na.' Although many devotees propose that purification (anartha-nivrtti) can be easily dismissed in favor of rasa-vicara (hearing rasa-lila), such a standpoint is taken by Sarasvati Thakura as symptomatic of the sahajiya practices.

Of course, such devotees are fond of quoting the last verse of the Rasa-lila chapter of Bhagavatam wherein it is stated as a benediction that even one with lusty desires becomes purified by hearing with great faith the Lord's pastimes with the gopis. The bona fide acaryas always stress the holy name (with great faith and surrender) as the central focus in devotional life. To date no one has ever been able to show us where an acarya has established a method of practice for conditioned souls based ONLY on the principle of hearing lila-katha.

Our friend has quoted Jiva Gosvami as stating that hearing rasa-katha is one of the most powerful forms of sadhana. This is certainly true, but as amply proven with innumerable references from the teachings of our prominent acaryas in Who is Following Whom, qualification is required. All the bona fide acaryas since the time of Sri Rupa Gosvami have promulgated respect for the developmental practices of bhakti-yoga, and to avoid jumping over any particular stage.

In Bhakti-sandarbha, Srila Jiva Gosvami outlines the gradual process to spiritual realization:

prathamam namnah sravanam antahkarana-suddhy-artham apeksyam suddhe cantah-karane rupa-sravanena tad-udaya-yoyata 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."

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura confirms:

adhikara avicara rupanuga kore na, anartha-anvita dase rasa-siksa deya na

"The followers of Sri Rupa Gosvami are never neglectful in assessing anyone's spiritual qualifications. The followers of Sri Rupa never instruct a servant who is engrossed in material impediments about the science of rasa (intimate devotional mellows)." (Prakrta-rasa-sata-dushini)

rati age, sraddha pache rupanuga bole na, krama patha chadi siddhi rupanuga bole na

"The followers of Sri Rupa never preach that transcendental attachment is reached before one develops pure faith. The rupanugas never teach that the perfection of devotion can be reached by abandoning the consecutive order of developmental stages on the path." (Prakrta-rasa-sata-dushini)

sadhana chadile bhava udaya to haya na, raganuga janile-i sadhana to chade na

"If the preliminary practices of devotional service (sadhana) are neglected, then the awakening of ecstatic emotions (bhava) can never occur. Even one who has attained realization of spontaneous devotional service (raganuga-bhakti) should never give up practicing the regulative principles of devotional service." (Prakrta-rasa-sata-dushini)

The most practical evidence which may indeed help our readers to arrive at their own conclusion as to with whom and where the higher lila of the Supreme Lord can be discussed, might be as easy as walking down Bhaktisiddhanta Road in Mayapura. The Gaudiya Matha Mission with all its branches (including ISKCON) on Bhaktisiddhanta Road, together with Caitanya Sarasvata Matha and Devananda Gaudiya Matha in Koladvipa, were originally the creation of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. For close to one hundred years the mission he established has been functioning with its various branches, and in none of those establishments do we find lavish discussions on rasa-lila, manjari-bhava, and all such things going on in public or in the presence of unqualified devotees. Recently, this has become somewhat of a novelty in the western countries among certain groups, but it is far from the standard practices established by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta.

Action speaks louder than words. The missions of Sarasvati Thakura, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srila B.R. Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja, Srila B.P. Puri Gosvami Maharaja, Srila B.D. Madhava Maharaja, Srila B.S. Gosvami Maharaja, Srila B.P. Kesava Maharaja and all others in the illustrious line of the Sri Caitanya Sarasvata Parampara have put into action in all of their institutions the concept of pujala raga-patha gaurave bhange. "The path of raga-marga, spontaneous love of God, must always be kept above our head, observing a respectful distance."

Srila Sridhara Maharaja once commented, "the real existence of Bhaktisiddhanta is there" in this verse, pujala raga-patha gaurave bhange. [Audio recording available on line: Bhaktisiddhanta-vani] Although unknown to some devotees in the western world, Srila Sridhara Maharaja kept the pujala-raga-patha verse as the motto of his Matha, engraved on an arch above the kirtana hall inside thecompound.

Beginning sometime in 1981, greatly fortunate western devotees began to hear from the lotus lips of Srila Sridhara Maharaja many of the intricate points of pure devotion and spontaneous love of God (raganuga/rupanuga-bhajan) following in the line of Sri Rupa-Raghunatha. In the years that followed, Srila Sridhara Maharaja revealed a great treasure of the inner wealth of Gaudiya Vaisnavism to the western world. Such noteworthy gems of siddhanta were drawn to our attention by the grace of Srila Sridhara Maharaja as the madhurya commentary (Nigudartha) on Brahma-gayatri [Brahma Gayatri Bhasya], the acme of dedication as found in our prayojana-acarya, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, and revealed in his inner mood of Radha-dasyam, Radha-pada-seva.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja revealed these and many more charming and beautiful aspirations of pure devotion. But with every breath came "pujala-raga-patha gaurava bhange." Do not rush ahead, fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Do not become a fool, follow the angels. [ Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear to Tread ]

Whenever asked about the path of raganuga-bhakti, Srila Sridhara Maharaja always responded in the same way: "pujala raga-patha gaurave bhange" – The path of raga-marga, spontaneous love of God, must always be kept above our head, observing a respectful distance. There was never any other explanation of raganuga-bhakti coming from the lotus mouth of Srila Sridhara Maharaja than this.

Once, when Srila Sridhara Maharaja was asked to speak about the pastimes of Krsna he replied as follows:

"I am sorry, but we are not to enter into the discussion of such higher and subtle position of the lila of Radha-Krsna. That is not to be brought into public, and that is the distinction between Gaudiya Matha and the sahajiya section. The sahajiyas are trying to imitate all these things, but we have no faith in imitation. The higher lila will come in an individual case, and it will awaken in an irresistible way. When the program of the sadhana stage is finished it will come automatically, spontaneously. We are believers in that, and not to know the form already and then we will reach there. That is not the policy accepted by Guru Maharaja, Prabhupada. Pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange.

"Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura also said, 'Stick to the rulings of the class you are fit for, then you will see automatically.'

yatha yatha gaura-padaravinde vindeta bhaktim krta-punya-rasih
tatha tathotsarpati hrdy akasmad radha-padambhoja-sudhambu-rasih
(Sri Chaitanya-chandramrta 88)

"Strictly stick to Gaura-lila, Mahaprabhu, and you will automatically find within your heart that Radha-rasa-sudhanidhi is flowing. Don't attempt directly to have it. It will come automatically, spontaneously. Not intellectually you shall approach that, for that will give you a bad prejudice. Not only that, but it will be harmful prejudice and you will have to expend more energy to do away with that layer of misunderstanding. So our Srila Prabhupada did not allow these things.

"Do your duty in your plane, according to what you deserve, and that will come naturally. That is his instruction all through, not only temporarily, but all through. Don't do like that, for then you will get maya instead of yoga maya."

It appears that our old friend is not familiar with the books of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, or those of Srila Sarasvati Thakura. Some may say that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was only a philosopher, while they themselves are rasika-bhaktas, but such a statement is more telling of one's ambition than of one's position as a real acarya.

Pujala raga-patha gaurave bhange is not merely a warning, so that one might not make a mistake and go forward prematurely, although it certainly is that also. Pujala raga-patha gaurave bhange is a direction that implies the recognition of an intrinsic quality, a fundamental aspect of the nature of the soul. The soul (tattasta-jiva) is not a parsada of Krsna or of Radha, but a servitor whose eternal position is lower and a little distant.

The place of residence of the liberated jiva in the Gaudiya-parampara is Govardhana, not Radha-kunda. And the service of the jiva is also selected according to Their necessity. So to practice pujala raga-patha gaurave bhange in this life will bring about the greatest fortune for all conditioned souls and prepare us (in the sense of making us fit) for eternal service in the spiritual realm.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja commented that this conception (pujala raga-patha gaurave bhange) should be preached in every nook and cranny of the world for all time. It is not something to dismiss so easily. If we do dismiss this instruction, then it is we who are the losers.

It came as a shock to us when one evening, while sitting in Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Maharaja's room in Mayapura, he mentioned that those sannyasis who want to hear rasa-lila but are actually not qualified will have to take the risk of becoming mundane women in their next birth. They will not, he said, get the aprakrta-gopi-svarupa. They will attain just the opposite, the material body of a woman. At that time, just to keep a sense of humor, a sannyasi standing nearby said, "Oh Guru Maharaja, that might explain why there are so many sincere Vaisnavis on the planet."

Sannyasa itself is the life of pure devotion, a life of service to Guru and Krsna, twenty-four hours a day, astakaliya-lila. Yet we see in these unfortunate times that a man gives up his vows of sannyasa, then enjoys the shackles of marital life for some years, criticizes pure devotees and their followers, and then reappears on the scene after a decade or two - but this time as a raganuga-bhakta. Shame, shame, shame. We are not impressed.

The real question is why do those who want Krsna-lila resent it when stress is placed on purity first. First deserve and then desire. Is it too much to ask? Purity is the price one has to pay. The actual price one has to pay for eternal life is surrender to one's guru.

prasanna haile guru sarva-siddhi haya', gaura-krsna-krpa tanre haya suniscaya

"If the guru is satisfied with his disciple, then all perfections are possible. Without any doubt, Gaura and Krsna's mercy will be showered upon him." (Srila B.P. Puri Gosvami Maharaja, On Love and Separation, pp. 131)

To establish in his essay the glories of hearing from a rasika-acarya, my old friend has given us evidence from Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. In this regard Srila Puri Maharaja has stated as follows:

"Apnader videshe ek-ti prakrita-sahajiya-dol srishta ho'yechhe" In your foreign countries there has appeared a party of prakrta-sahajiyaism. And it is not a matter of inventing something; what they speak is there in 10th Canto, in the works of Gosvamis, and 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 few of His antaranga-bhaktas, and He was inspiring masses to perform nama-sankirtana, and Himself performed sankirtana with great numbers of people. Pracara should be nama-pracara. Remember: I don't like pseudo-Vaisnavism. I don't like pseudo-Vaisnavism. I don't like pseudo-Vaisnavism."

So it is safe to say that those who are actually followers of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and also of Srila Puri Maharaja will not go to such places where the intimate lilas of the Supreme Lord are being discussed among unqualified persons. I might add that the standard of my Guru Maharaja, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, was no different than that of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, Srila Puri Maharaja or of any of the stalwart followers of Sarasvati Thakura.

There is a fundamental defect in those who quote Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura in an attempt to justify their involvement with rasa-vicara (discussions of rasa-lila), and that is that they are jumping over the head of Sarasvati Thakura.

But this is not the first time such a mistake has been made. There is the precedent of Harivamsa (and his followers), a disciple of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami who took support for engaging in rasa-vicara from Prabhodananda Sarasvatipada, but failed to follow Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. Srila Sridhara Maharaja explains:

"That sort of deviation is found in many places in the succession. Just as there is one Harivamsa, he was a disciple of Gopala Bhatta. But he practically deviated. It is thought that he is supported by Gopala Bhatta's guru, Prabhodananda Sarasvati, who was a great devotee, and who has written many books: Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi and many books of high-style writing are there. He supported Harivamsa to a certain extent, who was a disciple of Gopala Bhatta. There is a line from Harivamsa. Harivamsa was not accepted in toto by Gopala Bhatta, who was guru of Harivamsa. Another branch, as if coming down from Harivamsa, they are known as Hari-vamsini. Theoretically they have recognition of Gopala Bhatta, but practically there is some deviation. They are more addicted to the rasa-vicara (discussion of lila). But Gopala Bhatta, the direct connection [his true followers], they are very careful to deal with this rasa, high type. Just as our Guru Maharaja, he is very cautious about to deal with the higher rasa, pujala raga-patha gaurava bhange. That rasa should be kept always over our heads. We are talking something about Him very hazy, and giving much respect."

The standard for dealing with the higher Subjective Plane of Reality has been given to us by Sarasvati Thakura. He has come down from the eternal lilas of Lord Gauranga to show us how to adjust our relationship with the Absolute Truth, the Super Subjective Plane of Reality, pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange.

There are no losers among those who accept the path shown by Sarasvati Thakura. When you are qualified you will be accepted in that higher realm: Back to Home, Back to Godhead.

However, if you are not qualified but insist on engaging in higher topics of discussion, then you are, in effect, creating a disturbance in the Lord's lila. Then unfortunately in your next life you will get the corresponding body in material nature.

We are not saying one should never hear Krsna-lila. What we are saying is that one should first be concerned with attaining the proper qualifications necessary to enter such a high plane of existence. It should not be considered so cheaply. I wonder why my old friend is so adamantly opposed to my emphasis on attaining the basic qualifications before entering into higher topics prematurely. His own siksa-guru has recommended the same thing in the book Sri Vraja Mandala Parikrama, as follows:

"So whenever the Vaisnavas are discussing any topic, it is correct to approach that assembly in a mood of reverence. My Guru Maharaja instructed us never to read the 10th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam.

"I remember that although he restricted us from reading these particular pastimes it was not because he was forbidding us from reading it; but it was just to make sure that we would be extremely careful in approaching these subjects with the utmost care and reverence without a tinge of mundane contamination.

"Therefore these topics and this sentiment should be carefully exposed and partially hidden; but nevertheless they must be revealed according to time and circumstance, taking into consideration each individual's qualifications and eligibility."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.