Guardiões da Devoção
by Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja
<![if !vml]><![endif]>Srila Sridhar Maharaj: One must be given admission, in order to enter into the Lord’s own family of servitors. That is diksa, initiation. Through diksa, one receives divya-jnanam, divine knowledge, enlightenment; he can understand that “Krsna is my Guardian, He is my all-in-all.” And leaving all other duties, one promises to go towards Krsna, for His service. The function of diksa is to impart such knowledge.
And the disciple himself also invites this knowledge: “I belong to Krsna, wholesale. I am His property, He can use me in any way. I am not free to leave Him; my fate is all within His service, within His area of service, and not outside.”
Krsna Himself gives us this assurance: “You are My own. Your interest is My interest; My interest is your interest. We are one and the same, there.” And Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu tells Sanatana Goswami:
diksa-kale bhakta kare atma samarpana,
sei-kale krsna tare kare atma-sama
(Cc. Antya. 4:192)
“At the time of initiation, when a devotee fully surrenders unto the service of the Lord, Krsna accepts him to be as good as Himself.”
The Lord accepts us as His own, and takes the responsibility of everything for us, good and bad. And according to our surrender, such kind of consciousness also comes, it awakens, in us. Divya-jnana is real knowledge; it is proper knowledge, absolute knowledge, independent of all our different interests, our separate interests. From the absolute standpoint, He has got full right over everything, and over me also; and from my side, I also will think I am to be used by Him, exclusively, and by none else— this sort of transaction, is diksa. Divya-jnana or divine knowledge, the divine conception, means to understand this and to do accordingly. Without this, we are suffering from avidya, ajnana— from ignorance, from a false notion about the environment. We are ignorant of the proper estimation of the environment and ourselves.
What is the cause of this? It is separate interest. I have got separate interest, and so many others have also got their separate interest, so there are many interests, not harmony in One, the One interest, Central interest. This is at the root of our ajnana, our ignorance. And when we are conscious of the common Centre, and that the Centre is good— it is Home, it is beautiful, it is sweet, and all such things— then we get a proper estimation of our connection with the Whole; we get divya-jnana, real knowledge, divine knowledge.
Devotee: What is the meaning of ‘eternal relationship’? It is said that the disciple is eternally related with his guru. When one takes initiation from guru, is that relationship eternal?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: First we must understand that our existence, the very nature of our existence, is as potency- that is, subordinate, of subordinate character. The soul is of marginal potency, tatastha-sakti, and as such, no direct connection with Krsna is possible in our constitutional position. But only through some agent- through guru, the Lord’s representative- we are to have His connection, and not directly. Since we are tatastha-sakti, since we come from the marginal potency, we must connect with Krsna through His internal potency. In the internal potency, all are serving the Lord permanently, eternally.
And in that internal potency, there is gradation. There we find conception of personality, and also hierarchy: those very near to Krsna, those still closer, and those closest; and those who are a little far from Him, and further still. There is a hierarchy in this way, just as in a beaurocracy all are not very intimate with the king, but some are near, and others further away. The internal sakti, the potency, of Krsna, is like this: the nearer to the Source, its intensity is increased, progressively.
Just as near the sun, the heat is more, the light is more, and the further away, though there is still light and heat, their intensity becomes less and less, so similarly, near Krsna there is more serving spirit, and further away from Him that tendency becomes lessened- in serving, in affection, all such attributes. Krsna’s internal potency is such: the nearer to the inside, to the Centre, there is more interest for the Centre, and further away that ‘Central interest’ becomes less, it becomes a little slack. All those of the internal potency are subservient to their higher service-group; but the intensity of service-attachment may be more, or less. Such hierarchy is there. And the Lord Himself is in the extreme position- He is an Autocrat. We are to adjust ourselves with such an Autocratic Centre.
We must be prepared for anything: anything from the environment may come to us, but we are to face it with optimism. That is the key to success in our life. The highest advice is given in Srimad Bhagavatam:
tat te ‘nukampam susumiksamano
bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam
hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidhanam namas te
jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya bhak
(Srimad Bhagavatam 10:14:8)
“One who, in the hope of achieving Your grace, tolerates all kinds of adverse conditions due to the karma of his past deeds, and passes his days practising devotion to You with his mind, words and body, is truly eligible for becoming your unalloyed devotee.”
We have no ability to interfere with the environment; to do so will only be a useless waste of energy. Rather, we must try to correct ourselves, so that we can adjust with the circumstances we find surrounding us. We have been advised that the best estimation we can make about the environment, of what is coming to me from the environment, is to see it, to understand it, as a grant.
A grant means something which is given. But from where is this grant coming? It is coming from my Lord; and He is my Guardian. He is Supreme, He is Autocrat. So, what is coming from Him is His grace. We are living by His grace, always, and not as a matter of ‘right’. That we are living at all, that we are alive, we exist- this is not our birthright! If we exist at all, or not- it does not matter to the Infinite Whole. So, tat te nukampam susumiksamano: whatever is coming, it is His grace, it is not earned by my right, my ability, or my qualification. All and everything that is coming, and every part of it, is a grace coming to me.Our well-guided estimation about the environment will be such.
And we must be satisfied with whatever grant we get. It is not a matter of right; we are not to see with the eye of any right, whether we are getting our own ‘quota’ or not. “Am I getting my own portion, my own share?”- this should never be our attitude. At the same time, we must try to see that whatever trouble we find, is self-acquired: “Due to my own defective position, I am in such a condition. I am so low, so mean.” And our vanity will have to disappear forever, when we realise fully our dependence on His grace: “I have got no position; I am fully dependent on His grace. My whole existence, whole prospect, everything- it is only on account of His grace.”
Mahaprabhu said, krsnera nitya-dasa: consider yourself, know yourself, to be the slave of the Supreme Lord. A slave has got no rights; he is property, the property of another. Like animals who are someone’s property- like cows, or cats, or dogs- our position is such. The slave has no rights; but at the same time, by his master’s grace, he can enter the highest place, highest position. Such is the prospect of the slave of the Supreme Lord, of Krsna.
And it is possible only through service. Service means, to satisfy Him- not to satisfy me, not service for myself. But when I am determined to exist only for Him, to maintain my existence for Him, when I can think: “I am for Him, and everything is for Him”- then I have got some position. As Hegel told, “Reality is by Itself and for Itself”, so, everything is for Krsna, it is for Himself; and when I am for Him, then I have got some position. And as much as I can dedicate myself to Him, to being for Him, so much of a concrete or substantial position I may acquire. My position depends on my rendering sincere service to the Prime Cause. Mahaprabhu said:
jivera ‘svarupa’ haya- krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’
krsnera ‘tatastha-sakti’, bhedabheda-prakasa
(Cc Madhya 20:108)
“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krsna because he is the marginal energy of Krsna and a manifestation simultaneously one with and different from the Lord, as a molecular particle of sunshine is one with, and different from, the sun.”
The soul is of the marginal potency. From the independent standpoint, it can be seen that he has something in common with the Lord, and something different from Him; and such a position is inconceivable. Krsna is all-in-all, and the soul has a dependent position, as His potency. The Owner is He, and if we are conscious of that fact, we can thrive. We can improve our position, and we may also get the higher position, we may enter into the higher, most confidential service, only if we can satisfy the permanent servitors of that highest conception.
Who is the highest servitor, Who can serve Him best- they should be the subject of our highest reach. Our aim should be to enter into Their group. And that is Radharani’s group. To enter into Her group, Her camp, Her association- that is radha-dasya.
Service is our life, it is everything for us. We thrive only there. And whenever we want to do the work of a master, we deviate from that; we go away, we degrade. By serving, we live, and by trying to make ourselves master, by lording it over others, we die.
So, you will have to ‘die to live’- by dying to your false ego, your self-aggrandizing tendency, you can live, live in the world of service, divine service. Everyone is trying to live in this world avoiding death, physical death. They are trying to ‘live without death’, and that of course is not possible. Just as it is not possible in the ordinary sense to live without death, so you also, who are aspiring for divine life, don’t try to live, without death! Die now! Die, to both your exploiting and renouncing tendencies, to really live in service divine.
Don’t try to live in the plane of exploitation; that type of ‘living’, in our estimation, is to face death. But to die for Him, for Krsna, is really to live. The position of the Centre, and our relation with the Centre, is such. The Hegelian theory, that we should ‘die to live’, because ‘Reality is by Itself and for Itself’- it is very applicable in Vaisnavism. Our false ego should be dissolved, and the ego of self-searching should awake. And, God-searching is self-searching: to search for Krsna is really to search for our own interest, our own higher interest. If you search for Krsna, your own searching-interest is also included therein, it is represented there. So, only search for Krsna- and with the spirit of service, not with the spirit of enjoyment.
The ego, the false ego, must be dissolved. Bhidyate hrdaya-granthih: there is a knot in the heart, and it must be cut asunder (Sri.Bhag.11:20:30) ‘Ego’ means, the stored collection of separate interests of different types. Just as when an aeroplane has crashed, the authorities search in the wreckage, trying to find the ‘black box’; the record of the aeroplane’s entire flight is there. Similarly, our material ego is like our black box; our ‘plane’ is passing through different lives, but the box is there, with the recording. There we can trace in a person from where he is coming, and to where he will go.
His karma is recorded there; the result of his karma in its most subtle form is reserved there, in that recording box; and examining that, it can be understood where from he has come. There are specialists who can read: “O, he came from the tiger species”, or “He came from an insect”, or “He came from the horse, his previous birth was as horse”; or from some other section, other species. And they can also see: “It is possible that in his next life he will have to go to such-and-such place, his destination will be there.” This can all be traced, in the ego.
And that ego should be totally dissolved, so that our soul’s future destination will be in the spiritual existence, and nowhere in the material world. There are so many planes of life in the world, in the universe of three dimensions- bhur-, bhuvah-, svah-, maha-, jana-, tapa-, satyaloka- but our goal, our destination, should not be in any of them. Neither should we go to viraja, the area beyond all the qualities of material nature, nor to brahmaloka, the non-differentiated world of spiritual light. Our aim will be only: “I want to have a ticket for Goloka, for Vrndavan. I want to go there to live; I have heard, and I feel, that there is my true home, the home of my previous generations...” Such kinds of feelings will come in us. When our inner self will awaken, we will feel, “I only want to go there.” And Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, they are distributing the ticket to that land.
The inner liking is rucih, taste; taste is the vital unit, and not knowledge, not the brain. Mahaprabhu gave recognition to the inner taste. That is our capital. That is the realm of the heart; there the brain has nothing to do, no function.
The brain may sanction something, but the heart may take me towards some other direction; in this way we are generally guided by our heart, not by our brain. Brain cannot control everything; to a certain extent only, it may do so. But heart is the innermost guiding principle; the taste, inner taste, is guiding us, it guides us to our goal. So, we must be more concerned with that.
To improve our taste, we only need good association- association with the sadhus, with those who have got Krsna consciousness within them. In the world of devotion it is not the brain that is valuable, but earnest, sincere hankering for Krsna. And Krsna is Reality the Beautiful. But He is also Autocrat; that must also be our consideration, that the highest cannot be subservient to anything. This is clear, and reasonable also: because Krsna is the highest, because He holds the highest position, He should not be dependent on any other thing. And yet, He is dependent: He is dependent only on those who have that very conception about Him- that He is the highest. With them, naturally ‘oneness’ is there- the common interest binds them together. There is binding, attraction- the Attractor and the attracted. And Krsna is all-attracting.
There is Krsna, and His own. And when we have some connection with a real devotee of Krsna we have got a tangible position. Otherwise, we are nowhere, we are lost, lost in the infinite. But whenever we come in contact with a devotee, with an agent of His who is moving here in this world for His interest, then we have found some substantial position.
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata bija
(Cc Madhya 19:151)
“Wandering throughout the material universe, the very fortunate living entity who receives the grace of Guru and Krsna receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.”
We are wandering endlessly in this universe. When we come in connection with a devotee of Krsna, then we get some hope, some support- some safe position.
Without such substantial connection, we are lost, lost in infinity. Then all our movement here- from where we have come, to where we are going, what we are doing- all is going on endlessly, but to no point, to no good. When connected with local interest, such movement has got no value in relation to the Infinite, the interest of the Centre. It is like a ball being kicked: with one kick the ball is running in one direction, with another kick it is going a different way; kicked from different directions it is going now this side, now that. Our position is like that: a ball under the kick. But when we come to have association with one who has got some substantial connection with the real Centre, then we have acquired some tangible position; we are counted within the calculation from the Centre, we have got some position there, we are traceable. Otherwise, we are nowhere, we have no position. Our position is untraceable; we are wandering, passing through the universe in such a way.
This is the position of all souls within the universe. From this viewpoint even Brahma, the creator of this material world, has got no tangible position. The position of Guru Brahma, of Brahma in his function as Guru, that has a different consideration; but Brahma in his general function as the creator of any solar system, may not have any tangible position in the universal calculation.
When Brahma approached Krsna, to meet Him, Krsna first sent His servant to ask him, “Which Brahma has come?” And Brahma thought, “What is this? Is there any other Brahma? I am all-in-all, the creator of all and everything, whatever we see, we feel.” Still, he had to tell Krsna, through His servant, “It is the four-headed Brahma, father of Sanaka, who has come to meet You.” Then he was taken inside the hall, and He was filled with wonder at what he saw there: “O, so many Brahmas are here! Hundred-faced, thousand-faced, million-faced Brahmas are here, and with their big and gorgeous figures they are commanding bigger, greater universes than me. The creators of so many greater solar systems are here!” He was astonished.
So the Infinite can accomodate everything. And we are to make some tangible connection with that Infinite, we are to find some substantial position in relation to Him. But what direction will we take to go there? How are we to make such progress? It is only through love- love and affection.
Affection is beyond calculation; it is existing in a plane beyond calculation. It is that force which is controlling without the need of any brain: a kind of intuition. The affection of the mother for the child- it is found everywhere, even in the birds, the beasts, the insects. The parent bird comes with some intuitive affection for the fledglings when they are growing, to feed and nurture them, then she goes away. In this way the intuitive force of affection is going on, to conduct the world’s affairs. It is unaccountable; from where it comes, we do not know, but it comes to do the duty, the service, and disappears. That sort of tendency comes from the area of affection, of love. And we are to take shelter under that wave, wherever we find it available. That can help us in such a helpless condition as we find ourselves, wandering throughout creation.
And the human brain, when misdirected, is going to destroy the whole world by inventing atomic energy! The discovery of atomic energy, for mass destruction. We are so ‘civilised’, in the negative side. But civilisation in the negative side is suicidal. To kill one another- is such civilisation a development? Should we call this improvement, or development? It is rather the product of the satanic brain. Satan is not a desirable thing; it is an indirect, undesirable force. Killing, destroying, destruction- it is satanic activity. Those of such satanic brain are agents of destruction.
But the constructive thing is affection, love, sincerity, self-giving, surrendering. All these are based on surrender; love is always based on surrender. And that high thing, that noble thing, we shall try to imbibe. The most noble thing is self-giving. To give is nobleness; to assert, to exploit, is satanic.And to surrender for higher things, is godly.
And, further, Mahaprabhu also told, “Who are you, to give? Already you belong to Him. And how do you belong to Him? Not by any contact, but by your nature, you are a servant. You are krsna-dasa, a slave of Krsna. By your very existence, you are subservient to Him, you are His servant- that is your nature. And you want the opposite thing: you want to become a Krsna, to become a God, you want to take His position?
Your aspiration is just the opposite, and because you cannot thrive in this attempt, because you cannot become that Krsna, then you want to commit suicide, to enter the renunciation zone; you want liberation, mukti. You want to enter into the non-differentiated area and to never rise from there again, to enter eternal slumber, samadhi, brahma-sayujya - all these unnatural things. But come forward in the natural way, knowing that you are a servant, and in that position you will thrive.” This is Mahaprabhu’s advice.
We are so much accustomed to getting our interest satisfied in the world of exploitation, we are so much conditioned in that attempt, that we cannot think that, really, it is by serving that we live. By dying to our concocted self as an exploiter, we can live: this very thing we can’t understand. By giving we get, we thrive, and by taking we go down, we lose. But we are so much conditioned in the thought of the opposite thing, that by amassing, by gathering everything to ourselves we will become big, we are unable to think how it is possible that by dissolution, by giving ourselves, by offering ourselves, we can be greater, more noble. But the solution is in that very thing: we must die, to live.
bhidyate hrdaya-granthis, chidyante sarva samsayah
ksiyante casya karmani, drsta evatmanisvare
(Srimad Bhagavatam 11:20:30)
“When the soul directly beholds Me as the Supreme Soul within all souls, the knot of mundane ego in the heart is pierced, all his doubts are destroyed, and the chain of fruitive actions is annihilated.”
When our whole ‘separate-interest-box’ is dissolved, we will find ourselves identified with the same interest as our Lord; that we share the same interest, common interest, with Him. We will feel: “My interest is one with His, and according to my might, I am to do my duty.” That is normal life; it is a life which has got recognition as normal, in relation to the Organic Whole.
And the attempt to properly adjust ourselves, is also a very important work in our striving to arrive at the conclusion of our life’s purpose. We must consider: “How are we to utilise ourselves?” We are presently in a perplexed condition, and perplexity means dissatisfaction with our present circumstances. How to find out how I can be utilised in the service of the Lord? This requires from us proper adjustment.
If the Lord says to us, “Take your seat here”, but I want to run hither and thither for some other services, but still the Lord says “No, you stay here, sit here, by my side”- what should we do? Should we sit, or say “No, I want to do some work?” We will have to sit as He has asked, to satisfy Him.
And yet, this is also one kind of temperament of a devotee: “I can’t sit idly by Your side, some sort of service I must be given, must be given to me”; and that also is not to be rejected, in every case. The main principle is that in the good connection, everything may be good. It is the connection which is all-important: Krsna’s connection, Krsna consciousness. In different ways, different persons may go on with their service. It is not that everything must be stale or stereotyped.
Our sincere attitude for the truth is what is all-important. Our searching mood- krsnanusandana, to search for Krsna, and none else- such temperament is very valuable. “I am not satisfied by this thing or that, by so many things, but my heart, high heart, is aching for Him. I have heard from many sources about Krsna; I want to be very near to Him.”
Then, to be nearer to His devotees- that is still more tangible, and more real. When we have got some practical faith in the association of His real servitors, then we acquire something substantial in our path of progress. By Him, that association is made possible, and available, for helping us. So the position of one who has got abstract attraction for Krsna is considered to be primary; but one who has got aspiration for Krsna’s servants, rather than for Krsna Himself, he is in a better position.
isvare tad-adhinesu, balisesu dvisatsu ca
prema-maitri-krpopeksa, yah karoti sa madhyamah
(Srimad Bhagavatam 11:2:46)
“The devotee in the intermediate stage of devotional service is called a madhyama-adhikari. He loves the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a sincere friend to all the devotees of the Lord, shows mercy to the innocent and disregards the envious.”
arcayam eva haraye, pujam yah sraddhayehate
na tad-bhaktesu canyesu, sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah
(Srimad Bhagavatam 11:2:47)
“A devotee who faithfully worships the Deity, but does not properly respect the Vaisnavas or the people in general is called a materialistic devotee, and is considered to be in the lowest position of devotional service.”
The beginners in devotion want Krsna, and not His devotees, but those who have some tendency to attain friendship and association with the devotees of Krsna have something tangible, something real. That is a higher position, because by such aspiration their real life, spiritual life, is insured. Na tad-bhaktesu canyesu, sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah - those who are practising devotion, who want to cultivate Krsna consciousness through worship of the arca-murti, the Deity, or through reading books, or in any other way, but who are avoiding the bona-fide servitors of the Lord are in the ordinary, primary stage. But when some practical sympathy is felt in the heart for Krsna’s devotees, that fortunate person has got something tangible in their life; and their position is more reliable, more safe, and more progressive.
And when nothing but the Krsna conception can satisfy the devotee- when whatever is coming to him, all the waves coming to him from every direction, whether good or bad, are connected with Krsna, are all concerning Krsna- then his position is better still. To the devotee in that stage, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are both good because he sees everything as connected with the Centre.
For example: it may happen that a devotee may leave the Mission, the devotional association. By his good fortune, he came to connect with the Mission, but now he is going away; such a circumstance is bad, that is, it is unpalatable, an unfortunate thing. And another devotee who feels pain, whose heart is pained to see such a bad or unfortunate circumstance, he is in a bona-fide position. His heart is aching for that man who has fallen from Krsna consciousness, so, despite the unpleasant circumstances, his position is good. And conversely, when so many are coming to preach Krsna consciousness, carrying the flag of Mahaprabhu from corner to corner of this world, that same devotees’ heart is feeling pleasure, and that is all good.
So in Krsna consciousness, both good and bad are good. Anything relating to Krsna consciousness- good or bad, satisfaction or dissatisfaction, but all concerning Krsna-that is good.
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