Guardiões da Devoção


Hearing to See

An informal discourse by

Çré Çrémad Bhakti Rakñaka Çrédhara Gosvämé Mahäräja


[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font (available here) for better transliteration of Sanskrit into English. Click here for a version without Balarama font.]


Absolute Will and Absolute Vision


Man proposes and God disposes Proposal is directed upwards, and disposal comes

down. The waves of suggestion and acceptance are all the Lord’s pastimes.


naiva tasya kåtenärtho

näkåteneha kaçcana

na cäsya sarva-bhüteñu

kaçcid artha-vyapäçrayaù


Bhagavad-gétä (3.18)


In this world, a self-realized person who rejoices in the soul does not accrue piety by the performance of actions, nor does he incur sin by abstaining from duties. Amongst all living entities, from the highest life-forms of the planet of Lord Brahmä down to the world of immobile organisms, he never depends on anyone for any personal demand whatsoever.

For one who is self-realized, any and every wave is welcome for he is able to read the deeper meaning.


åte ’rthaà yat pratéyeta

na pratéyeta cätmani

tad vidyäd ätmano mäyäà

yathäbhäso yathä tamaù


Çrémad-Bhägavatam (2.9.34)


Çrémad-Bhägavatam asks, “What is the conception of mäyä ?” Åte ’rthaà yat pratéyeta – what seems to us to be the correct reading of the environment, is actually not so. Artheñu abhijïaù – Kåñëa knows the meaning and purpose of every incident. Many events are harmonised and are for the purpose of serving Him. But when there is localised interest, there is a clash. Imperial and universal interests clash with provincial and local interests. Artheñu abhijïaù. He alone can know why each straw is moving to this side or that. He alone is the knower of everything.


Only Kåñëa knows what purpose is served by the grass bending in the wind to this side, not that. All these movements taken together in harmony, go to Him. Artheñu abhijïaù svaräö. He is not answerable to anything or anyone.


The universal meaning of every event and incident, even the movement of a piece of straw, is allpurposeful and all-meaningful to the Absolute. It all contributes to the absolute satisfaction of Kåñëa. That is the meaning of the phrase, åte ’rthaà yat pratéyeta.


Artheñu abhijïaù. Artha means “universal”. And what is the real purpose of every movement? It is for the one Universal Absolute. That absolute current goes towards the satisfaction of Kåñëa.


The Plane of Ignorance and Error


But that reading is not possible for the superficial jévas. The jévas cannot read or conceive the real meaning of everything. The jéva will have his own reading of the circumstances, but that will be superficial, and that is mäyä. We may interpret in our own way the reason for an earthquake, a storm, or anything, but that reading is from our local interest – the real meaning is hidden. This is mäyä, and on the basis of that we are performing so many activities. All our interpretations are from the plane of local interest, so give it up!


sarva-dharmän parityajya

mäm ekaà çaraëaà vraja


Bhagavad-gétä (18.66)


Give up your local interest and identify yourself

with the current of that plane of universal interest.


åte ’rthaà yat pratéyeta na pratéyeta cätmani


Without knowing the real meaning, what we feel and read is the wrong reading of the environment – it is mäyä. We miss the universal purpose, and from local interest we read, “Oh, this is for this purpose, this is for that purpose.” But this is local interest. What we conceive, feel, trust and believe, is not in consonance with the universal reading; it is mäyä. Even our belief is within the realm of mäyä. Our conceptions will have no standing in the interest of the Absolute. What we read with our local interest, we will not find if we read from the universal interest.


Our disease of local interest and conception will be cured and removed when we see that everything is meant for Kåñëa and we become one with that interest.


åte ’rthaà yat pratéyeta

na pratéyeta cätmani

tad vidyäd ätmano mäyäà

yathäbhäso yathä tamaù


That feeling, that conception, is known as mäyä, “that which is not”. It is apparent, but not real. What is not real, that is mäyä. Even what I think to be real is not. Mä-yä – mä means “no”, and means “what” – “what is not.” Apparently it seems to be so, but the fact is, it is not. That is mäyä. In such a plane we eliminate the infinite interest and instead see by measuring according to our own interest. We measure everything from the angle of vision and standpoint of our own selfish interest. In this way we ignore the infinite representation, position, duty and service. This is mäyä.


Yathäbhäso yathä tamaù – light and darkness both exist. The absence of truth is not truth: it is tama, darkness, ignorance, mistake and error.


aham eväsam evägre

nänyad yat sad-asat param

paçcäd ahaà yad etac ca

yo ’vaçiñyeta so ’smy aham


åte ’rthaà yat pratéyeta

na pratéyeta cätmani

tad vidyäd ätmano mäyäà

yathäbhäso yathä tamaù


yathä mahänti bhütäni

bhüteñüccävaceñv anu

praviñöäny apraviñöäni

tathä teñu na teñv aham


etävad eva jijïäsyaà



yat syät sarvatra sarvadä


Çrémad-Bhägavatam (2.9.336)


The ontological base of the whole Çrémad- Bhägavatam is contained within these four çlokas.* The Lord is present everywhere in a direct or indirect way.


* The following are the translations of these four “seed verses” of Çrémad-Bhägavatam (2.9.33–6) known collectively as catuùçloké Bhägavatam:

(33) [Çré Bhagavän said to Lord Brahmä:] Before the creation

of this world, only I existed. The gross and the subtle,

up to the indefinable Brahman – in other words the

cause (sat ) and the effect (asat) – did not exist. Nothing

other than I existed. What is manifested in the form of

creation is also I, after creation it is also I, and after annihilation

only I will remain.

(34) I, the Supreme Absolute Truth (parama-tattva), am

the only real truth. Whatever appears to be of any value,

if it is seen to be separate from Me, or not existing within

Me, know it to be the product of My illusory energy

(mäyä), that reflection which appears to be in darkness.

(35) The five great elements of material creation enter

into the bodies of all living entities, high and low, but at

the same time exist independently. Similarly, I have

entered into all living entities as the Supersoul, but at

the same time I am situated independently in My own

transcendental nature.

(36) One who is searching after the Supreme Absolute

Truth must certainly search for it up to this, in all circumstances

and by all possible means, in all space and time,

through both direct (anvaya) and indirect (vyatireka)

means of deliberation.




To Hear & To Serve


One in the uttama-adhikära (highest) stage makes no attempt to preach. Distribution of propaganda is for those in the madhyama-adhikära (middle) stage. It is there to take everyone from the narrow conception to the bright conception, from the improper to the proper conception; and according to their conception people will carry out their activities.


siddhänta baliyä citte nä kara alasa

ihä haite kåñëa läge sudåòha mänasa


Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Ädi-lélä 2.117)


For us to be engaged more earnestly in service,  sometimes hearing is necessary. To hear just for the sake of hearing is luxury. But hearing for engagement, that is proper hearing.


The master calls, “Oh you, please bring me a glass of water.” But the student remains sitting. “Did you hear me?”


“Yes, I heard,” the student says, but still he remains sitting tight. That sort of hearing won’t do! There is a saying amongst the sahajiyä section: “Gurudeva asked for a glass of water, but I am engaged in harinäma. ‘No, Gurudeva, I’m engaged in harinäma.’ ” This is self-deception.


Especially in the beginning, the importance will be the consideration of urgency. Bhajana will be present in Gurudeva as service in a higher degree, but not in us. By serving him I can partake in kértana of a higher quality; and that can come within me and improve the quality of my kértana, and that can come within me and improve the quality of my bhajana. Sädhu-saìga

and näma-kértana are important. Näma-kértana has been recommended, but not without the association of the sädhu. That sädhu will be the higher, superior quality devotee, and sädhu-saìga means serving him.


Saìga does not mean just bodily association. Rather, saìga is possible only through the serving attitude– not by opposite dealing or idly sitting. Saìga means sat-saìga.


Sädhu-saìga: Serving the Sädhu


dadäti pratigåhnaöi

guhyam äkhyäti påcchati

bhuëkte bhojayate caiva

ñaò-vidhaà préti-lakñaëam


Çré Upadeçämåta (4)


The six types of loving exchanges among devotees are offering gifts in charity, accepting gifts in charity, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasäda and offering prasäda. These are the six kinds of association with a sädhu. It is possible to accept higher association only when one has a serving attitude; otherwise there is no saìga. To take lower association means to exploit and enjoy, but higher association can only be achieved

through service. By proper association the quality of your service will increase. Therefore sädhu-saìga –sädhu-sevä – is of most importance.


The Gauòéya Maöha stresses the importance of sädhu-saìga – serving the sädhu. Whatever you do by the command of the higher devotee will, through him, surely connect you with a higher conception of the Absolute. Whatever you do, do with that connection from above and carry out his order.


We have the experience of one sannyäsa Godbrother who left the order and engagement of his

Gurudeva and went to the holy place of Badarikäçrama. Our Guru Mahäräja punished him for that. We can therefore see that without the order from above, even going to the holy places may be punishable.


Without sädhu-saìga we cannot connect with the

higher level. Therefore even our chanting of the

Name may not be vaikuëöha-näma.


ataù çré-kåñëa-nämädi

na bhaved grähyam indriyaiù

sevonmukhe hi jihvädau

svayam eva sphuraty adaù


Çré Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu (1.2.234)


The universal necessity is to learn and acquire a serving attitude. If that is applied to näma-bhajana, or any bhajana, it will be of great help to you.


Jiùva means “the tongue”, and nämädi means “näma, rüpa, guëa and lélä”. On the tongue the Lord’s name (näma) will appear; within the eye, His form (rüpa); within the mind, His qualities (guëa); and in the heart, His pastimes (lélä). All these will come down to you, and everything about you will connect with that vaikuëöha-tattva.


It is not just a question of increasing the quantity, but quality must be present. To be real bhakti, sevonmukha and sevä presuppose surrender, and all this presupposes sädhu-saìga. It all originates from the association of a sädhu. From the positive direction it can come to us, so we must be thankful to that positive source. The Lord is there, but His grace is coming through His agents, so His agents should be welcomed and dealt with properly.


Whatever we can collect with our energy we should devote towards sädhu and çästra. Sädhu and çästra are our two friends everywhere.


Complete Surrender


My Guru Mahäräja, Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Prabhupäda, one day explained what is a sädhu, and what is karma. He then proceeded to explain that if a sädhu orders, “Bring me a flower”, but when you bring the flower he says, “No, now bring me some water”, and you object, “No, you ordered a flower and I brought it. Please accept this flower”, then it will be



The sädhu is free. One who thrusts the sädhu’s previous desire upon him performs karma. At every moment he is free, so to follow his past will, will be karma. You are always to be ready for the immediate need.


In the battlefield, if the general orders the army, “March this side”, then after noticing that the circumstances have changed he says, “No, go this other way!” then it won’t do for the soldiers to object by saying, “No! You have already ordered us to go in this direction.”


Similarly the sädhu and guru are always free, and their order should be taken in such a way. It is not that we shall stick firmly to their first order; sädhu and guru are living and independent.


On being asked to do a particular service, one disciple told our Guru Mahäräja, “I need to know my itinerary at least one week in advance.” Çréla Prabhupäda replied, “But I received the order only five minutes ago; how could I inform you earlier?” It is not a dead matter.


Of course, beginners will not be able to accept that. They will receive their specific instructions just as a young boy is given the duty to every day practice writing the alphabet, “ABC...” That is a particular stage. He will then be taught how to spell by using those letters in a certain way. And then later at every moment he will be ready to use the letters in many ways according to the necessity of writing. The order may come to take down a dictation, to write this and that. Just repeating “ABC...” is not sufficient.


So, in the beginning of devotional life the student is asked, “Do this. Do that.” But when he comes in connection with the living substance he will be prepared for a new order to come, and he will have to follow that with all alertness.


Connecting with the Living Conception


When I was in Våndävana I had a desire to meet with a sädhu who was the most famous and respected siddha-bäbäjé of that place. I had the chance to stay with him for a few days but, after circumambulating Vraja-maëòala, my Çréla Prabhupäda told me he was a kaniñöha-adhikäré. He explained that this bäbäjé, like a student, was only copying the accepted practices of a sädhu. He was following the stereotyped direction, chanting the Lord’s Names, doing mädhukaré, fasting, reading Çrémad-Bhägavatam and performing the various formal duties recommended for beginners, but he was not coming in contact with the living thing. He was simply undergoing training. He was simply following the routine of training.


In the armed forces when the new recruits are in the training period, they are asked to do something repeatedly, “Do this! Do this! Do this!” So they engage themselves in that way.


The kaniñöha-adhikäré does not know the spirit and therefore cannot connect with the living substance. He therefore is in the preparatory life of a devotee and will repeatedly engage in those practices.


The two or three times in the evening that I had gone to see this bäbäjé, I had sat there silently. He had many disciples there who respected him, two or four staying by his side. Nobody had said anything to me and he could not tell that I was from the Gauòéya Maöha. I tried my best to read him.


One such occasion was the holy Nåsiàha-caturdaçé day, and a reading from Çrémad-Bhägavatam was begun. He recited, and sometimes he spoke about various things. I continued my watch over his activities, movements, etc., and sometimes it was as if I was noticing Guru Mahäräja indicating to me that bäbäjé’s nature.


After two or three days I came to the conclusion that this man was trying his best from this plane to go up. But our Guru Mahäräja had come down from that plane and had a living programme with a purpose to fulfil. He did not belong to this world, but he came from the spiritual world on an order. Our Guru Mahäräja came down with something positive to give

to the world. He had some order and plan: “Go and do this!”


But that bäbäjé was trying his best to follow what has been recommended in the scriptures. We can read about Rüpa, Sanätana and others, and accordingly have some idea and try to practise that. But that is theoretical practising: “This has been recommended, let me practise all these things and then I will get my desired result.” One who follows in this way is a kaniñöha adhikäré. But the desired end and living result will come by working under the direction of

guru and sädhu who are already members of that plane. And that is not theoretical; it is practical. The difference lies in the practical necessity of the service.


In this way I had also come to the conclusion, later to be confirmed by Çréla Guru Mahäräja, that this bäbäjé was a kaniñöha-adhikäré.


Duty & Service


Soldiers are sometimes ordered to do ordinary things – not only fighting but also shovelling, clearing jungle and many other duties. When marching against the enemy, they are to do whatever duty comes before them. The circumstances are practical and living. It is not mock fighting, but a real fight, yet they are not engaged in fighting at every moment. Preparing for a fight has more value than mock fighting during a training period, even though the mock fight seems like real fighting.


When the soldiers on the actual field find it necessary to do some other duties, such as clearing the jungle or making a bridge or a path, etc., it will have more value than a practice fight in peaceful circumstances.


Of course the position of the general – of Gurudeva – is all-important: he must be real, not a

sham or imitation. If the sädhu or guru is genuine, to clean up his stool and urine may fetch more than worshipping the Deity. That is because such activity has a practical connection. So, under the guidance of a real äcärya, whatever we do – be it cooking, looking after the cows, personal service or so many other duties – will have more value than our independent reading of Çrémad-Bhägavatam. That is possible because the äcärya is actually leading a spiritual life and he has his mission to fulfil. If we can help him, that will fetch a higher result for us. And I will be paid by his coin, not by any gross thing.


Published in Centenary Anthology (Navadvépa: 1995)

RAYS OF THE HARMONIST No. 13 Karttika 2003



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