The internal meaning of rathayatra and nama-bhajana: Part 2

Jul 19 2002 - Krishna Talk 31

(A lecture given in Srila Puri Maharaja's room at Gopinatha Gaudiya Matha, Jagannatha Puri on the day of Hera Pancami, june 29th 1998)

Continued from Part I

Prathamam namnah sravanam antahkarana-suddhyartham. One has to first engage in hearing the Names of the Lord so that the mind and intelligence are purified. After this one can begin hearing about Krsna's form through which one's qualifications to visualize it becomes possible. I have heard about His form - Syamasundara. That is one of Krsna's Names. So what is this syama, this blackish form? Once I know about Krsna's form, I can start to hear about His qualities. What are His characteristics? For instance, he is affectionate to His devotees, and so on. We hear about His glorious nature. Only after this do we come to lila-katha. First rupa, then guna, and only afterwards lila. If we don't follow this sequence and attempt to relish Krsna's lila prematurely, then we might feel some temporary emotion, but it will not be permanent, fixed bhava. That is why Prabhupada told us, Mahaprabhu repeatedly heard the life-stories of Dhruva and Prahlada from Gadadhara Pandita Gosvami. Why did He set this kind of example? The reason was that He wanted us to renounce false emotion and become capable of experiencing the real mood. That is why He told us to do things this way.

You may say, "I have heard Prahlada's lila once. I may even have heard it several times. What's the use of listening to it again? What will I gain from hearing it another time?" but haven't you noticed that Mahaprabhu Himself set the example of listening to these stories repeatedly? He would go to Gadadhara Pandita Gosvami over and over again and ask him to recite Dhruva-lila and Prahlada-lila. This was the example that He gave. All this to teach us a lesson: we arrive at the Tenth Canto gradually, bit by bit.then we begin to relish Krsna's lila. We have to earn the qualifications to hear the Tenth Canto. If we start prematurely, then our situation will be just like that of people watching a play, like the audience at a theater troupe's performance, as I described earlier. However, in order that we might develop an idea of what our future prize will be, of what the ultimate goal of our spiritual practice is, Srila Prabhupada arranged for a special program to be held during Karttika month's niyama-seva. So once again I am not saying, "Don't do it." Many people will create confusion after hearing what I have said. I am not saying not to do it, I am saying one has to give precedence to the Holy Name. Give precedence to the Holy Name. When your chanting becomes offenseless then you will experience the taste of sacred rapture in the Name itself. And you will come to the state of constancy with out deviation or distraction. After that, gradually, bit by bit, you will earn the qualification to relish Krsna's lila. Is that not so my dear child?

Even so, this doesn't mean that we can go on without making an effort. Because in order to progress, we have to have greed or eagerness. We have a verse that says:

kriyatam yadi kuto'pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam
janma-koti-sukrtair na labhyate

"O friend, if you should find it anywhere, that heart absorbed in Krsna-rasa so rare be quick to buy, how much the soul's in need! In that bazaar is posted just one price; millions of pious works will not suffice, the only cost is paid in coins of greed."
(Padyavali 14 also quoted in Caitanya-caritamrt, Madhya 8.70)

Krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita-matih - even millions and millions of lifetimes of pious activities will not give us this attitude of absorption in the sacred rapture of Krsna devotion. The words lalasa or laulya means greed or intense eagerness. This is the most essential factor. If someone should somehow develop this intense eagerness to hear Krsna's pastimes, then there is nothing that I can say. That is why I repeat once again, that I am not saying, "Don't do it". But I am telling you that this is what our Prabhupada told us to do. Why did he tell me to stop discussing the Tenth Canto? I went on and started reading from the Eleventh Canto. Prabhupada told us that the nectar of Krsna's lila is there in the Tenth Canto, but when will we gain the qualifications to relish them? So I take it that this is what is important for us to learn. If we want to attain real worthiness, then we have to give pride of place to the Holy Name, that we may chant without committing offenses. So that we can chant offensesly. After all, the Lord has invested the Name with all His potencies. Sarva-sakti dila name kariya vibhaga (Caitanya-caritamrta,Antya20.19). And there is no restriction as far as when or where one can chant the Holy Name. Nor does it matter whether one is pure or impure. In the morning I might be wearing a contaminated cloth, one that I have slept in all night, but the order remains, even in dirty clothes, "Chant the Holy Name."

khaite suite yatha tatha nama loya
desa-kala niyama nahi, sarva siddhi haya

"One can chant the Holy Name in any condition at all, whether eating or lying down. There are no rules governing the time and place for chanting; one can attain all perfections in any case."
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 20.18)

This is the contribution that Mahaprabhu made. One says I will get up early in the morning before sunrise, I will take my bath, clean my teeth, wash my face. I will put on tilaka etc. and only then will I sit down and chant. But Mahaprabhu is so merciful. What did He say? He said: chant wherever you are, in whatever state you find yourself.

Our Paramananda prabhu came to Srila Prabhupada when he was very young so Prabhupada loved him very much. He came when he was just a child...we heard that he was only eleven years old. In an article about Bhaktivinoda Thakura he wrote that he came when he was thirteen, but I heard that in fact he was eleven. Anyway, when he took shelter of Srila Prabhupada, he was still very young and so Prabhupada always treated him with special affection, like his own child. He used to sleep in the same room with Srila Prabhupada, so we would hear Prabhupada call out, "O Paramananda! Get up! Get up and do some chanting!" He would groan and Prabhupada would say, "What will you gain by groaning?" So Prabhupada would get him up in this way.

We have to make the necessary effort in order to develop a love for the Holy Name. We have to pray to the senior Vaisnavas, our guru-varga, that we can surrender our pride for there is no place for egotism in devotional life. "I have become a great bhajananandi. What other people are doing is not devotion. You call that bhakti? You chant, I'll just listen." We once had this attitude. "You chant, I'll just listen." You have to chant yourself too. The Holy Name is everything to us. That is why it is said -

nama vina kali-yuge, nahe anya dharma
sarva-mantra-sara nama, ei sastra-marma
Kaviraja Gosvami Prabhu also writes:
bhajanera madhye srestha nava-vidha-bhakti
krsna-prema krsna dite dhare maha-sakti
tae madhye sarva-srestha nama sankirtana
niraparadha laile nama paya prema-dana

"Of the various kinds of devotional practices, the best are the nine varieties of devotion, each of which possess great power to bestow on the practitioner love of Krsna and thus Krsna Himself. Of these nine practices, the best is nama-sankirtana. If one chants without offences, he will attain the treasure of prema." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 4.70-71)

jayati jayati namananda-rupam murarer
katham api sakrd attam muktidam praninam yat
paramam amrtam ekam jivanam bhusanam me

"All glories, all glories to the blissful form of Murari which is His Name, through which all my efforts to perform religious practices, meditation and ritual worship have come to a halt. Simply by uttering the Name once in any way at all brings salvation to any living being - it is the supreme nectar; it is all that keeps me alive; it is my only ornament."
(Brhad-bhagavatamrta, 1.1.9 )

Puri-dhama. Why did Mahaprabhu choose to live in Puri-dhama? While here, He was always absorbed in the mood of Radharani in separation, crying constantly. He came here at the age of 24, He then spent six years traveling the length and breadth of India, and then the last eighteen years of His life here. The first six of those years were spent in the company of the devotees, chanting, dancing and preaching. But the last twelve years were all in the Gambhira, in the intoxicated madness of Radharani's divyonmada. He even jumped into the ocean and floated all the way to Cakra-tirtha where he was caught in a fisherman's net. The fisherman thought that he had become a ghost, some kind of living-dead man. Meanwhile Svarupa Damodara and other associates of the Lord were looking for Him. They saw the fisherman, frightened out of his mind, saying, "A ghost! A zombie!"

Svarupa Damodara said, "I am an exorcist. I know all the mantras to exorcise ghosts. I will take care of that zombie. Show him to me." When they saw Mahaprabhu, He was lying there with all his limbs distended so that He was much taller than usual. The devotees started to sing the Holy Names in sankirtana until eventually Mahaprabhu came back to consciousness. All these events are absolutely true. None of it is made up. It is neither false, nor were these events a pretense for the sake of impressing the world.

Whatever Mahaprabhu said is absolute truth. He taught by His words and His example. apani acari dharma jivere sikhaya. He Himself put into practice religious principles and only then did He instruct others. There is Mayapura He created a garden of love. An orchard which produces fruits of love. That's what is said. He made an orchard of the fruits of prema - prema phala paki pare, mali asvadaya- when the fruits ripened and fell, the gardener Himself relished them (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 9.162) And as He relished the fruits, He said:

ekala malakara ami kahan kahan jabo
ekala va kata phala pariya bilabo
ekala uthana dite haya parisrama
keha paya, keha na paya, rahe mane bhrama
ataeva ami ajna dilun sabakare
jahan tahan prema-phala deho jare tare

"I am the only gardener. How many places can I go? How many fruits can I pick and distribute? It would certainly be a very laborious task to pick the fruits and distribute them alone, and still I suspect that some would receive them and others would not. Therefore I order every person within this universe to distribute these fruits of love everywhere."

He didn't say, "You don't have to give them in California" or "You don't have to give them in Russia" did He?

jahan tahan prema-phala deho jare tare
khaiya hauk loka ajara amare
jagat vyapiya mora habe punya khyati
sukhi haiya loka mora gahibeka kirti
bharata-bhumite haila manusya janma jara
janma sarthaka kari' karo para-upakara

"Therefore I order every person in this universe to distribute these fruits of love everywhere...let people eat these fruits and become free from old age and death...people will become happy and sing My praises...anyone who has taken a human birth in the land of Bharata-varsa should perfect his life and engage in welfare activities for the rest of the world."

prthivite ache jata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama

"My name will be glorified everywhere throughout this earth, in every town and village."

Nowhere did Mahaprabhu say that the fruits of love were to be distributed only in India and nowhere else - prthivite ache jata nagaradi grama. And not just on this earth planet of ours - there are so many other planets, is it not so?It is for this reason that we...first Bhaktivinoda Thakura prayed tearfully in this way, "Why should the English be left behind?" He himself wrote Sri Caitanya - His Life and Precepts. Do you have that book? It was written in a very abbreviated form, so many years ago. Our godbrother Svami Maharaja first found it in a library in Montreal. Bhaktivinoda wrote, "When will that day come when we will dance with our arms upraised, singing the Holy Name with our light-skinned brothers of Europe?" All these things are found in the eighteenth or nineteenth volume of Bhaktivinoda Thakura's Sajjana Tosani.

From that moment, the international preaching work was begun. Of course, people like Vivekananda went to the west, but their message was different. Our preaching of the Holy Names is entirely for the sake of pure devotion. These others were preaching mayavadi philosophy. Mahaprabhu gave no quarter to the mayavada doctrine. The Padma Purana has clearly criticized it:

mayavadam asac chastram pracchanam bauddham ucyate
mayaiva vihitam devi kalau brahmana-murtina

"The unholy doctrine of mayavada philosophy is said to be a disguised form of Buddhism. I appeared as a brahmana in the age of Kali to promulgate this philosophy."

The Padma Purana calls it an'unholy doctrine'. Why? Because the Mayavadis say brahma satyam jagan mithya jivo brahmaiva naparah - the only truth is Brahman. The living entity is nothing but Brahman. This is their entire teaching summarized. The only truth is Brahman and the world is false. It has no real existence. And they say jivo brahmaiva naparah - every living being is in fact Brahman. Kaviraja Gosvami gives many arguments against this philosophy. The jivas existence comes out of eth Supreme Lord, the Parambrahma. As Krsna Himself states: aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate - "I am the source of everything. Everything arises from Me." All religions, actions -whatever exists has its origin in Him. Anyone who considers this will engage in the worship of the Lord - iti matva bhajante mama budha bhava-samanvitah (Bhagavad-gita 10.8).

This is the spirit of devotion. Those who possess this spirit, those who are wise, worship the Lord with this devotional attitude. The Lord said this in the Bhagavad-gita. There, the Lord taught karma, jnana, gradually explaining everything. Then finally He said:

sarva-guhyatamam bhuyah srnu me paramam vacah
isto'si me drdham iti tato vaksyami te hitam

"Now hear My supreme teaching, the most hidden of all hidden treasures. You are extremely dear to me, and really this is why I am explaining this for your true benefit."
(Bhagavad-gita 18.64)

Then the Lord followed this by saying, sarva-dharman parityaja...sarvadharman, which Visvanatha Cakravarti explains means varnasrama dharma, so it is not only that the brahmanas will make others do and the ksatriyas will do everything. No. And Mahaprabhu Himself gave His identity as beyond varnasrama. One identity is sopadhikamor 'with material qualities', the other is nirupadhikam or 'without material qualities'. Mahaprabhu gave the nirupadhikam identity, the transcendental identity of the soul.

naham vipra na ca narapatir napi vaisyo na sudro
naham varni na ca grhapatir no vanastho yatir va
kintu prodyan nikhila paramananda-purnamrtabdher
gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanu-dasah

" I am not a brahmana, nor a ksatriya; I am not a vaisya nor a sudra, I am not a brahmacari, nor a householder, not a vanaprastha, not a sannyasi. But since Lord Sri Krsna, the maintainer of the gopis and the overflowing ocean of nectar, is the only source of universal, transcendental bliss, I claim to be a servant to the servant of the servant of His lotus feet."
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 13.8, Padyavali 74)

This is the transcendental identity. The jiva is transcendental. This is the essence of the jiva. The material (sopadhika) identity of the self is "I am a ksatriya, I have a B.A., I am a king etc." These are all upadhis, the disguises of the soul.

sarvopadhi vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam
hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate

"Bhakti is defined as the engagement of the senses in the service of the Proprietor of the senses. This service is to be free from any contamination by identity with the body, and pure through being exclusively fixed on Him."
(Bhakti-rasamrta Sindhu quoting Narada Pancaratra )

All these superfluous designations have nothing to do with the soul itself. The real identity of the soul is gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanu-dasah - 'the servant of the servant of the servant of the lover of the gopis' lotus feet'. This is the transcendental identity of the soul. I am not a brahmana, nor a ksatriya; I am not a vaisya nor a sudra, I am not a brahmacari, nor a householder, not a vanaprastha, not a sannyasi. My real identity cannot be found within the varnasrama-dharma. What is my true identity? gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanu-dasah - 'the servant of the servant of the servant of the lover of the gopis' lotus feet'. I am the servant of Krsna's servant's servant. To be Russian or Indian - these are not pure identities. Do you understand?

Everyone has such a pure identity: everyone from every nation has the same essential nature. There are not a multitude of different natures. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written all this in his Siksamrta. "According to the pure character of the soul, all people of all countries have the same religion." But the mundane identity causes one to think, I am a brahmana, I won't take water that has been touched by that person for it will contaminate me - all this kind of thing. Is it not so?

However, because we identify with the pure soul does not mean that we eat anything that is given to us by anybody. Why not? When we do so, their mentality affects us, enters into us. Yogis, yoga practitioners, don't eat just anything they get from anyone. They will not eat everything that falls into their hands. Why not? Because their performance of yoga will be adversely affected. They are performing yoga with a particular objective and if they eat the food of a sensual or materialistic person, then those tendencies will have an affect on their thought processes. Do you follow me? But in your country these things go on. Why should we avoid eating other peoples food? Because if we do, their mentality will encroach upon ours. If we eat the food of a sexually indiscriminate person, then his promiscuity will enter my nature. Do you understand?

Thus we do not, as a rule, eat the food of just any person. We only take maha-prasada, the food which has been offered to Krsna. And you will remark that the food offered to Lord Jagannatha has a special power. Bhaktivinoda Thakura especially praised the dahl-prasada. It is so wonderful, it does not cause any indigestion. I used to be afraid of eating urad-dahl at one time, because I tended to have severe stomach problems. So I used to avoid urad-dahl. But here, if you eat Lord Jagannatha's urad-dahl prasada, you will have absolutely no digestion problems.

So my dear child, if anyone has any problems understanding, then he should come and ask me. I will not consider it a disturbance. The point is that we don't take food anywhere that is devoid of pure devotion. Wherever pure devotion is practiced, there is no need of any further consideration. For example, if someone comes with maha-prasada and I say, "No, you are a foreigner, I won't eat anything that you have touched", this is improper. I do not say that because he is bringing me maha-prasada which cannot be contaminated by anyone's touch. Even Brahma and Siva ecstatically accept Jagannatha's prasada; they are so happy that they dance while eating it. And in this book (Sri Ksetra by Sundarananda Vidyavinoda), it is said that Jagannatha Himself eats all the offereings here every single day. Of course, everything I have said about maha-prasada is not it true glory. That is found in the following verses of the Hari-bhakti-vilasa:

brahmavan nirvikaram hi yatha visnus tathaiva tat
vikaram ye prakurvanti bhaksane tad dvijatayah
kustha-vyadhi-samayuktah putra-dara-vivarjitah
nirayam yanti te vipra yasman navartante punah

"Visnu-prasada does not become transformed any more than Visnu Himself. Any brahmana who thinks so will become a leper and lose his wife and children, he will go to hell whence he shall never return."
(Hari-bhakti-vilasa, 9.134)

Of course, this verse is trying to frighten people a little! But just think how many people have touched maha-prasada! Even so, no one says, "An outcaste or a low caste person has touched it, now I won't eat it." That is why the verse says, brahmavan nirvikaram. Do you think that if you were to touch Visnu that he would be transformed somehow? If a leatherworker touches him, does he become one?

So Lord Jagannatha has come out onto the open road to allow everyone to see Him. So many people are coming and touching Him. Some climb onto His chariot. We normally don't do that, but last time Singhaniya Mahasaya took me right up onto it. But if someone touches Jagannatha that doesn't mean that He has become contaminated or lost His caste-status! He is the father of everyone, the father of the universe as it is said in Bhagavad-gita: pitaham asya jagato mata dhata pitamaha (Bhagavad-gita 9.17)

Mahaprabhus's religion is extremely generous, is extremely generous. His pastimes are the audarya-lila - supreme munificence. He embraced everyone - his religion is all-embracing. He would embrace everyone. He even embraced Vasudeva Vipra, who was afflicted with leprosy. Worms and insects were feeding off Vasudeva's sores. If they fell out, he would put them back in. It is frightening to even think of these things. It is disgusting even to hear about it. Imagine if we were to see it! Still, Mahaprabhu embraced him and transformed him into a handsome young man. Then Vasudeva said to the Lord, " Previously people used to hate me. Now I am afraid that I will be proud because of what You have done." But Mahaprabhu answered: kabhu na badhibe tomara visya taranga - "The waves of material sense objects will never entangle you."

jare dekho, tare kaho krsna-upadesa
amara ajnaya guru hana taro ei desa
kabhu na badhibe tomara visya taranga
punarapi ei thani pabe mora sanga

"Instruct whomever you see in Krsna consciousness. By my command become a guru and deliver this land. The waves of material sense objects will never entangle you and one day you will have my association again in this very place." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 7.128-9)

That which then takes place has never before been seen. He was completely covered in leprous sores. This is al completely true.

So many people criticize me. They say, "Maharaja doesn't allow people to discuss the higher realms of devotional achievement. That is not the case. I am not holding back on that account. But you must be on the platform of naisthiki-bhakti. You explain all this, Baba. May everyone reach the stage of naisthiki-bhakti. Because, then as the Bhagavata says:

tada rajas tamo bhavah kama-lobhadayas ca ye
cta etair anabiddham sthitam sattve prasidati

One may be a very learned person, but if one talks about the highest realms of spiritual life without the adhikara, it is dangerous. I am not objecting to someone doing that, but people must have the proper qualifications.

adhikara na labhiya siddha-deha bhave
viparyaya buddhi janme saktira abhave

"If someone meditates on his spiritual body without having the proper qualifications, he develops the wrong conception because he is insufficiently strong."

Have you ever heard this verse quoted? I have not criticized others who speak on these higher topics. Please understand this clearly. I have never criticized or blasphemed them. I would never do it because I would become an offender to a Vaisnava if I did so. But I do warn you all - first deserve, then desire, first deserve, then desire...