The Resolve of Mahaprabhu's Devotees

Apr 18 2022 - Krishna Talk 240

(Produced from a lecture by Srila B.G. Narasingha Maharaja on Gaura Purnima, 17th March 1995 at Saraswatipuram, Mysore)

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is called the friend of the fallen. In Kali Yuga one does not have sufficient capacity even to do a fire sacrifice, to properly chant the vedic mantras, or actually give in charity. In this age just to remain clean and keep oneself free from diseases is a struggle. Kali Yuga is so unfavorable with many disturbances that it is not possible to perform other processes that require some basic qualification. Even if you could obtain the goal of your life through other processes, you couldn't successfully do it anymore. Only one road is open and only one path leads to success, and that is the path that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has shown us by His grace. So He is rightfully known as the friend of the fallen — patita pāvana

Seek Mercy

When approaching Caitanya Mahāprabhu, we are looking for mercy. Actually, that is the most intelligent approach. For example, if you are arrested for some reason and produced in the court, especially if you are a first time offender, the lawyer will advise that we should seek the court’s mercy. There is no doubt you broke the law, but admit that you broke the law. Plead guilty and ask for mercy. Because mercy means you can overrule the law. 

Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja says — 

"Although it is the duty of justice to seek qualifications, mercy has no such limits. Divine mercy does not care for any qualifications, but is always ready to compensate the weak and unfit. Only one thing is required: our sincere eagerness to receive mercy. In Caitanya Caritāmṛta it is said:

kṛṣṇa-bhakti-rasa-bhāvitā matiḥ
krīyatām yadi kuto 'pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ
janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate

‘Pure devotional service to Kṛṣṇa cannot be obtained by performing pious activities even for millions of births. It can be purchased only by paying one price: intense eagerness. Wherever it is available, one must purchase it immediately.’ 

No qualifications from one's previous life will help one to attain Kṛṣṇa consciousness; only eagerness and faith are important." 

There's one example we heard from Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja in this regard that goes back to the earlier days of Queen Victoria and the British Empire, that was ruling much of the world at that time. An incident happened right after the coronation of Victoria when she became the Queen of England. One of her first duties was that she was to judge a case, a military case. So this was a peculiar case in which the commanding officer was asking for a punishment for a soldier from the lower ranks. He presented the case against the man and asked the queen to give a strict punishment as per the law. But the queen was reluctant. She was thinking, “This is the first time I have come to judge, and does it have to be an instance of punishment?” She asked for a good report. But every inquiry met with a negative reply. So the queen was very perplexed. She said, “Isn't there anything good about this man?” Then the General could understand that all the queen was searching for was some reason to show mercy. So he said, “Well, he takes good care of his wife and children.” The queen said, “Yes, he's a good man, the case is dismissed.”

Therefore, we are searching for mercy. If we approach the Supreme Lord and ask to make a just measurement of all the good things and all the bad things we have done, then we're finished because the bad things outweigh the good things. We should not take such a risk. But we are secretly advised to seek mercy, because mercy can overrule justice. We don't know what our past has been and with justice, we may have a very uncertain future also. But if we seek mercy and kindness then we can never be the loser. Moreover, the only qualification to get that grace is that you must eagerly want it. 

Eagerness is the Price

The grace of Mahāprabhu is actually the rarest gift that has ever been given. Śrī Gaurāṅga comes to this world as the giver of Kṛṣṇa-prema, which cannot be obtained even by studying the Vedas, giving charity, performing tapasya, or even becoming Brahma or Indra and executing their duties for many lifetimes. These cannot produce Kṛṣṇa-prema

anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
hariḥ puraṭa-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandīpitaḥ
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ

May the Supreme Lord who is known as the son of Śrīmatī Śacī-devī be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love. (CC Adi 1.4)

In the descriptions of the life of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu it is said that many demigods and great personalities came to the house of Mother Śacī to see Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. They quickly approached the lord by offering obeisances and respectful prayers, and then with folded hands they requested, “Please give us Kṛṣṇa-prema.” Mahāprabhu gave them Kṛṣṇa-prema, and they were immediately absorbed in transcendental ecstasies, dancing and exhibiting many uncommon symptoms through their bodies. They really wanted Kṛṣṇa-prema. Not that they just came with an insincere request, “Oh, give me if you like. You're giving it to everybody, you can give it to me also.” They received the grace because they wanted it sincerely, and they had the eagerness — laulyam

The Protection of Sādhana Bhakti

Someone may ask, if all one has to do is to want it, then what's the necessity of following any rules and regulations, and other things which come in the realm of sādhana bhakti. The answer is that we are in a state of unwillingness. Conditioned state means unwillingness, which is non-eagerness. We don't want it now because we're bewildered, confused and covered over by so many influences of the mind. So sādhana means to take your stand within the protection of Kṛṣṇa, and to take shelter of Kṛṣṇa. Sādhana bhakti in-fact is in the stage called bhajana kriya

First, we must have some faith (ādau śraddha), then we come into the company of devotees (sādhu saṅga), then we begin to practice (bhajana kriya). This practice is called sādhana. This practicing life will keep us in connection with the desired object, the desired goal, and it will keep us at a safe distance from māyā

Just like while planting a tree, some small sheltered environment is required in which the seed is sown, watered, and then the plant begins to grow. It must be kept like that for a long time. When the plant is unprotected it is devoured by donkeys, sheep and other beasts that roam on four legs. So the necessity of practice is to protect our devotion. Without a practicing life, Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very rarely successful. It is almost impossible that one will simply awaken to the desire to be Kṛṣṇa conscious. 

The Journey towards Kṛṣṇa Prema

Sometimes at the time of initiation, the recommendation is that one should be qualified. There is some truth in it, that there are some qualifications necessary, but the qualifications are that one should be eager, enthusiastic, and one should have faith. If someone has many anarthas — unwanted things in the heart, we should not think that after purifying the heart one can be initiated. That would be very difficult because the stage of anartha nivṛtti, which means to become free from anarthas can only happen after one passes the stage of bhajana kriya. Bhajana kriya is the third stage. After coming in association with the devotees, the beginning of the practicing life of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one of the part of bhajana kriya is called dīkṣa or initiation. 

When one enters into the stage of bhajana kriya, and accepts initiation, executes duties, rules, regulations, and services under the guidance of the spiritual master and his associate friends, then one can become purified, one can reach anartha nivṛtti and cleanse the heart. But unless we go through this process we cannot become purified in the heart. Without becoming purified in the heart we cannot develop niṣṭha, which means being fixed up in devotion. 

Niṣṭha does not mean that there are many rules and we shall follow them to the tee. Even before having niṣṭha, one may follow rules perfectly. Real niṣṭha means fixed on the goal, where the goal becomes fully clear, and one does not waver from the goal at any time. One of the symptoms of this is we like to hear and talk about Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It becomes the be all and the end all of our life. We begin to arrange everything like our lifestyle, family economics, where we're going to live etc. around that, so that we can always be in touch with the goal of our life. 

When one becomes fixed up in devotion, then one can get ruci. Ruci means some taste. This taste is not cheap. One cannot be a contaminated person, full of anarthas. If you do all nonsense, think all nonsense, not have any determination, then getting the real taste (ruci) is not possible. 

When being fixed on the goal ruci will arise and eventually this taste will make us mad. This taste becomes addictive, and the addictive stage is called āsakti. Āsakti means intense attachment. When we are attached to something, we cannot live properly without it. When there is attachment, the necessity is so great that without it we are disturbed. When one has got some taste for the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, a taste for the company of the Vaishnavas, and an actual taste for the mercy of mahāprasādam, then one cannot live separate from these things at any time. At that time, one gives up all other interests. We may think that we gave up all other interests so many times before. But there is a renovation of that feeling, like a reassessment. Again one surrenders more and gives up even more. Eventually, it is said that sleep appears to be like death. When that happens, the devotee becomes a bhāva bhakta

Bhāva is like the horizon just before the full sun appears. The sun looks beautiful and red. It appears very sweet and charming. This intense attachment for Kṛṣṇa then takes the form of sweetness and mellowness of love of Kṛṣṇa, which then begins to move within every pore, in every atom of our existence. And lastly, one becomes a prema bhakta. Prema bhakta means one who has been swept away by waves of the ocean of love of Kṛṣṇa. 

From the beginning of śraddha, passing through sādhu saṅga and other stages, till the perfection of prema bhakti, it can take a very long time. Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmi says it is not a single life's process. It can take a very long time, or by the grace of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, it can be achieved in one lifetime. The only price we have to pay is sincerity. Nobody can dictate to you what real sincerity is. Sincerity is something felt deep within the heart, deep within oneself. That is the price that one has to pay for love of Kṛṣṇa — sincerity and eagerness. 

Bhakti Yoga — A Function of the Heart

Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja says that our heart is concerned with the ecstasy of beauty, charm and sweetness. It is felt by the heart, not thought by the brain. Once one hippie said, "Oh, I've realized the truth,” and pointed to his brain. If one truly realizes the truth then it touches the heart. Truth is in the heart, not in the brain. Brain means mind and it is one of the eight material organs. What we call the hṛdaya is not mentioned in Bhagavad Gita as one of the eight material elements — earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego. Just as I've engaged my hand in washing, cleaning and cooking, and my feet in going places, so I've got my brain also to engage in Kṛṣṇa's service. However, Kṛṣṇa is not revealed in the brain. Even though I may have developed a high transcendental thinking, the real channel of transcendence is not the brain, it is the heart. 

You may compare someone who has Kṛṣṇa in the heart and a materialist through an IQ test. The materialist may have a greater IQ, but IQ has has nothing to do with realizing Kṛṣṇa, since that is the function of the heart. It is said in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.1.1), tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi kavaye — It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmājī, the original living being.

In reality, there is no necessity of Jñāna, that of so much knowledge. However, many of our ācāryas like Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta are vastly learned. They advice learning, but not as the process to get Kṛṣṇa but in order to increase one’s faith in the process, to provide protection to the community of devotees, and to fight against the opposition outside.

Jñāna yoga predominantly pertains to mind and intelligence. Whereas, bhakti is the process of the heart. The heart holds a lesser position in this world, because heart feeling is just considered sentiments, whereas knowledge is respected. Yet, that is only by a general estimation. If we study deeper, even in this material world, the feeling of the heart is greater than the knowledge of the brain, and that has been proven throughout history, time and time again. 

Bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion is not a lesser type of yoga. It is not a lesser standard. It is actually the highest standard by which one can fully realize the supreme Lord, His pastimes, His name, His form, and so forth. So these three things, beauty, charm, and sweetness, are very powerful. Whereas, knowledge holds a lesser position. 

Our Capacity for Nectar

Many devotees have dedicated major portions of their life towards the descriptions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, which is quite an extensive subject. First there's Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura, who composed the Caitanya Bhagavata. Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākur is considered to be the Vyāsa Deva of caitanya-līla. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Goswāmi has compiled Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta following in the footsteps of Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura. After him Locana dāsa Ṭhākur compiled a book called Śrī Caitanya Maṅgala. In this way, numerous books and songs have been composed by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's devotees and followers describing His transcendental life.

We are like the bird known as the cātaka, searching for a drop of pure nectar. A cātaka is always searching for a drop of pure water from the sky. Although there's water all around in great quantities, it does not drink from any other place other than the sky. It waits for the rain and takes only the rainwater. In doing so it actually runs a great risk. It could perish in the process, but its nature is such that it cannot live on other forms of water. Just as that bird is eagerly awaiting for one drop of pure rain, the devotees are eagerly awaiting to hear the transcendental glories of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. 

Another example is given about a small bird. There was an incident once, when the ocean took away some eggs of a small bird. With great determination that bird went to the ocean and demanded that the eggs be returned. The ocean was silent and in anger that bird made a great vow, “If you don’t return my eggs, I'll drink you dry.” This is quite impossible. But in a similar way, we are trying to drink an ocean of nectar, but our capacity is like that small bird. We don’t have that much capacity. However, in the instance of the little bird, Garuda, the king of birds appeared and offered his support and backing to that small bird. He commanded the ocean to return the eggs, or he himself shall take up the task. At that point the ocean returned the eggs. 

Similarly we have no capacity as fallen conditioned souls to appreciate and relish the transcendental name, pastimes, form, etc. of Kṛṣṇa, but by the grace of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, we have got some capacity. 

The Resolve of Mahāprabhu’s Devotees

Through Mahāprabhu one can understand everything — what we are, who we are, where we come from, and what is the purpose of our existence? All fulfillment of the soul can be achieved at the Lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. This is the bold proclamation of His devotees. 

One need not adopt any other process. One need not search in any other way. Sometimes people see astrology and other methods to find their path. But the stars are all but molecules of insignificant dust at the feet of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. In comparison they are nothing. They cannot show us any grace or benefit. They cannot illuminate our way. This type of resolve the devotees of Caitanya Mahāprabhu have that simply by His grace everything can be achieved. 

One does not need to look to any other corner. One need not chant names of any demigods or perform various pujas. Mahāprabhu sometimes observed such rules and regulations so as not to disturb society. But He and His devotees are not dependent upon those rules and regulations. While concluding the Bhagavad Gita, Kṛṣṇa says sarva dharmān parityajya— so many duties have been described so that a sense of responsibility comes to the human being in relation to the society in terms of religiosity, obedience and so many things, but now you can leave all those duties and simply surrender to Me, and everything will be included in that surrender. So this is the mentality which we see in Caitanya Mahāprabhu's most celebrated devotees—such one pointed fixed determination. 

The aim of Śrīman Mahāprabhu was to distribute most generously the devotional service in the mood of Vṛndāvana. But Nityānanda Prabhu used to say, “Just worship Gaurāṅga, speak the name of Gaurāṅga and chant Gaurāṅga's name. Whoever worships Śrī Gaurāṅga is my life and soul.” Nityānanda Prabhu tried His best to make the people at large accept Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He implored people to directly accept Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and this way one will safely attain Śrī Vṛndāvana. 

yathā yathā gaura padāravinde, vindeta bhaktiṁ kṛta puṇya rāśiḥ 
tathā tathot sarpati hṛdy akasmāt, rādhā padāmbhoja sudhāmbhu-rāśiḥ

Śrīla Śridhara Mahārāja explains the above verse from Śrī Caitanya Candrāmṛta as follows —

“As much as we devote ourselves to the lotus feet of Śrī Gaurāṅga, we will automatically achieve the nectarine service of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī in Vṛndāvana. An investment in Navadwīpa Dhāma will automatically take one to Vṛndāvana. How one will be carried there will be unknown to him. But those who have good fortune invest everything in the service of Gaurāṅga. If they do that, they will find that everything has automatically been offered to the divine feet of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. She will accept them in Her confidential service and give them engagement, saying: ‘Oh, you have a good recommendation from Navadwīpa; I immediately appoint you to this service.’”