Navadvipa Dhama and Devotion Proper

Date Unknown - Article

Devotee: Please tell us something about Sri Nabadwip Dham Parikrama.

Srila Guru Maharaja (Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhara Deva-Goswami Maharaja): We should try to become more acquainted with the realistic view of Nabadwip. There are so many divisions in this Nabadwip Dham: mainly nine. It is mentioned that they represent the nine sections of devotion:

sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam

Simantadwipa represents sravana-bhakti, hearing about Krsna. Chanting about Krsna, kirtana, is in Godrumadwipa; remembering the Lord, smaranam, is in Madhyadwipa; serving the Lord's feet, pada-sevanam, is here in Koladwipa; worshiping with the gee lamp, etc., arcanam is in Rtudwipa; offering prayers, vandanam, is in Jahnudwipa; rendering service to the Lord in the relationship of a best friend, sakhyam, is in Rudradwipa; and full self-surrender, atma-nivedanam, is represented in Sri Antardwipa, Mayapur. They have connection with these nine main types of devotional conceptions respectively. When travelling to these places we are reminded by the incidents connected with them how such representation comes from each place. All of them taken together promote our understanding as to what is devotion proper.

Atma-nivedanam, full self-surrender, is the basis of all. After atma-nivedanam the plane of life will be categorically changed. After surrendering to the central direction, whatever will be done by us will come to have recognition as devotion. That is devotion. Atma-nivedanam is selflessness plus self surrendering. Self-surrendering presupposes selflessness. Selfish actions come to an end and selflessness is also crossed, and then self-surrendered life begins - and that is devotion proper.

The life of a devotee has no individual or provincial interest. He works only for the universal interest of the whole Absolute. Devotees are soldiers of that plane. Whatever they may do, the suggestion and inspiration comes from the centre, the Absolute Good. Though apparently they seem to be members of this plane of quarrel, in their heart their connection is with the Absolute Good; therefore their colour has completely changed. The valuation of the devotees movements has completely changed although apparently they seem to be doing everything almost in a similar way to the mundane persons. Mundane persons eat, and the devotees also appears to eat, but actually they are not eating: they are rendering service to the remnants sent by the Lord. In this way they are going on.

tvayopabhukta-srag-gandha vaso 'lankara-carcitah
ucista-bhojino dasas tava mayam jayema hi

Uddhava says in Srimad Bhagavatam, "We shall conquer the whole of the deluding energy (Maya) by only one thing. And what is that? We shall accept everything with the spirit of service. Whatever You, O Lord, send to us, You have already taken and enjoyed, and we shall serve those remnants and thereby the whole of the deluding energy will be devastated."

One of my learned professor Godbrothers was challenged by his younger brother who was perhaps a graduate,"What do you do there in the Matha? What we do, you also do there."

The professor replied, "No, no, you do not do what we do in the Matha." "You do not eat?" "No, we do not eat." "Then what do you do? With my own eyes I have seen you eating." "No, we do not eat. We do not eat like you; we do not put solid things into our stomachs like you. We render service to Maha-prasadama. What we do is beyond your understanding. We do not eat like you. We have no spirit of consumption. We do not consume anything, but we honour the remnants of the Lord."

Such will be the difference between all the activities of the true Vaisnavas and the worldly men. Apparently the Vaisnavas seem to do the same things as others are doing: walking, sleeping, eating, engaging others in activities, earning money, spending, and so many apparently similar things; but the standpoint is totally different. It is connected with the centre. They abide by the direction of the central movement whereas the worldly men are guided by their provincial, local, and the other by the Absolute, and that difference is very, very great. The Vaisnavas are on the other side of selflessness, the other side of renounced life. Between the worldly men and the Vaisnava is the realm of complete renunciation. One is on one side, the other is on the other side.

What proper devotion is, must be realized. Generally, it may not be understood by the apparent movements of the devotees, but it is to be realised by the question of adjusting the angle of vision. The angle of vision is to be changed.

There are so many incidents, stories, and sceneries connected with Sri Nabadwip Dham Parikrama, but all are meaning to help us in our life of absolute adjustment. If one can catch that, then by his parikrama through different holy places and his hearing about local 'historical' incidents he will receive eternal instructions in various conceptions of devotion. He will receive encouragement in this way.

It is not like the parikrama of the ordinary people in the general Hindy section of society who also go out on pilgrimage. The general people come in contact with the holy places and they have some holy association, but their main object is to gain some unseen help in their present life. They want their desires of this present life to be satisfied by some invisible help from the demigods. It is punya-karma - to acquire good merit to help success in their present life according to their conception. It is not Suddha-bhakti.

The objective of the Gaudiya Matha people is quite different and it cannot be reckoned in any of the different planes the present educational section are hunting for. The present-day scholars cannot even think that purely spiritual life is possible at all. They consider that spiritual life may be only a concoction that others are suffering from. According to the so-called scientific scholars, the spiritual searchers are fighting with their shadow, hunting after impossibility and imaginary things. They consider the devotees to be running after phantasmagoria and superstition.

ya nisa sarva-bhutanam tasyam jagarti samyami
yasyam jagrati bhutani sa nisa pasyato muneh
(Gita 2.69)

But on the other side, we think that in the name of concrete reality they are running after phantasmagoria - just the oppostite. They are running after the mortal achievements. They think immortality is not possible, and Socrates had to pay a heavy price for expressing that the soul is immortal. At the cost of his life he announced that the soul is immortal. They objected, "No, nothing is immortal, therefore it is foolish to neglect the mortal pleasures, so let us enjoy whatever there may be." That was their viewpoint.

The normal viewpoint is that we want to be wakeful in that plane of life which is darkness to them. The basis is that the soul is immortal and there is an immortal world - it is not only immortal but it is nectarean reality, srnvantu visve amrtasya putrah: "O you sons of nectar, be mindful. You are eternal and you have become victims of mortality but really you are not so. You have an inconceivably higher prospect of life. Come back. Come back to your own plane.Come back home." That is the general call of the Upanisads, the most ancient revealed Scripture.

The attempt of the followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu does not only call for theistic life, but it calls for theism in its fullfledged condition: that is a family life with God - family life with the Absolute Beauty and Charm. "Your place is just on the lap of the affectionate father, or, just on the lap of the beloved consort."

"Do or die" is the slogan of Mahaprabhu's followers. Let us try. Let us strive our utmost to achieve what is our own real prospect. No compromise. There must be no compromise along the way, but we must fight to the finish and we must be prepared for that. Our Guru Maharaja, Prabhupada Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura, was the Acarya of the whole Gaudiya Matha and he was of such nature. He was not haphazard or prepared to make any compromise - nothing of the kind.

Prabhupada Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura had to begin his fight almost single-handedly against the whole of the world - against all the different stages of culture ever known to the world. His only support was Srimad Bhagavatam and Sriman Mahaprabhu. He proceeded with 'heart within and God overhead.' On his head was Mahaprabhu and Bhagavatam. He stood alone to fight out Their cause. Not only did he want to fight in Bengal, the province of Mahaprabhu, and not only in India, but he wanted to fight outside as well.

He wanted to attack the highest position of the present civilisation - the Western world, the scientific civilization. They are so proud with their present achievements, but Srila Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada wanted to break down the whole structure of the present false civilisation. He wanted to demolish it and construct a divine temple over the ruins. He wanted to construct a temple of God over the mundane world. He wanted to present not any half-truth, but the fullest: in his words, "full-fedged theism" in accordance with Srimad Bhagavatam. We are not to stop halfway or be satisfied with partial progress, but we are to only engage in wholesale dealings, and that is given by Srimad Bhagavatam.

avismrtih krsna-padaravindayoh

The conception of theism follows these lines. It is continual existence under the holy protection of the Divine Feet of Krsna: to maintain one's life of continuous engagement with all sorts of activities, while thinking, "The guide is upon my head. The Divine Feet of Krsna are upon my head." With this attitude we can easily remove what is foreign within us in no time at all. The continual rememberance of Krsna's Lotus Feet, of Krsna's connection, will in no time disperse all the difficulties along the way, as well as all meanness and all that is not dignified. Our Srila Guru Maharaja said," The Gaudiya Matha stands for the dignity of human race." We are to understand that slavery to Krsna is a most dignified position. And everything against that ideal is meanness. The only standard of life for a gentleman is to understand and accept the position of subordination to the Absolute Truth. To admit what is proper and real, and on that basis make one's life advanced, is not meanness. To understand one's proper position and to understand one's proper duty and discharge it - that is a gentleman's life; to accept what is truth. What is considered to be meanness will be removed very soon. And what is really for our welfare and beneficial to us, that will increase.

You are at present in an adulterated conception of your own life. The mind, intelligence and exploiting energies of different kinds are all adulteration. It will be purified and your real self within will come out in its pristine glory, and you will find you have a happy devotional connection with the Supersoul, the Super-knowledge. You will come across knowledge proper - a clear, personal type of knowledge - with its paraphernalia and systematic existence.

Whatever you are attracted to at present in this mundane plane will be transferred. Affection proper will be discovered. At present your affection, attraction, and love are misdirected, but they will find their proper place and position. The special characteristic is that you will have a real place and position where these faculties of affection and attraction will find a special support, a proper place to which they will be directed. This is devotion.