The Environment is Your Friend
by Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja
sva-dharme nidhanam sreyah para dharmo bhayavahah
Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous. That is one stage. There is the relative consideration, and the Absolute consideration.
sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
This is Absolute: Krsna says, “Give up everything. Come to me directly.” And this is relative: “Stick to your own clan. Don’t leave them.” That is the national conception. There is nation consciousness and God consciousness; society consciousness and God consciousness. God consciousness is Absolute. If society consciousness hinders the development of God consciousness, it should be left behind.
guru na sa syat sva jano na sa syat
pita na sa syaj janani na sa syat
daivam na tat syan na patis ca sa syan
na mocayed yah samupeta mrtyam
What to speak of ordinary things, even the guru, one’s spiritual guide, one may have to give up, as in the case of Bali Maharaj, and in the case of sva-jana, own relative, Vibhisana had to give up. Then pita na sa syat, Prahlada’s father had to be given up, and in the case of Bharata, it was his mother, and in the case of Khatvanga, he left the demigods, and in the case of the yajna-patnis (the wives of the brahmanas), they left their husbands, in the endeavour to reach the Absolute Personality. The samaj, the society, is needed only to help us. If our affinity to the society keeps us down, then it should be given up, and we must march on. So many times I have mentioned these things. There is the Absolute consideration, and the relative consideration. When they come into clash, the relative must be given up, and the Absolute should be taken.
So if my inner voice, my spiritual conscience decides that a type of company cannot really help me, then I will be under painful necessity to give it up, and to run away towards my destination, in the direction that my spiritual conscience guides me. Otherwise it will be hypocrisy, and it will check our real progress.
nahi kalyana-krt kascid durgatim tata gacchati
If we are sincere in our attempt, then no one in the world can check me, or deceive me. Only we ourselves can deceive ourselves. No one else. We must be true to our own self, and true to the Supreme Lord. We must be sincere.
You have come to fight as a soldier, to save your country, or your people, or your honour. What your environment is, that does not depend on your whim. It may appear in any way, but you have to face that. However complex the battlefield may be, as a soldier you are to approach that. Otherwise you have no real faith in your own cause. There may be so much fighting amongst us, but we have not left the real field. We have not left the preaching of Mahaprabhu, in spite of all the difference.
When I first came here, leaving the association, the main association of Prabhupad (the Gaudiya Math), one gentleman put a question to me. He said, “You call yourselves Vaisnavas, but you are quarrelling with each other, with your own people whom you say are godbrothers, you are quarrelling.” And a man was killed also, so he said, “You are also a murderer.” In this way, he attacked me. I told him, “What is himsa (violence), and what is not himsa? Do you know?” “Yes, we know,” he said. “Have you gone through the Bhagavad-gita?” I asked him, “One may kill the whole universe, and still he does not do anything.”
yasya nahankrto bhavo, buddhir yasya na lipyate
hatvapi sa imal lokan, na hanti na nibadhyate
“Can you understand this position? One can destroy the whole universe, still he does not do anything. Do you know this? How is it possible? Then don’t pronounce high words that we are committing himsa, and all these things. You see, you are worshipping the deity Kaliji, and what is her posture? She is killing so many people and a garland of their heads is around her neck. Or you worship Shiva, Mahadeva, and he is the destroyer of the world at the time of doom. Then you will go to Ramachandra, you may go to Him. He also conducted war, and killed so many.
You may go to Lord Krishna, He has also killed many. Then who is not a murderer? Will you tell me? Narayana, He also comes as an incarnation, and kills so many. Then what is killing and what is not killing, you are to understand that.” When I put so many examples, kali, Shiva, Rama, Krishna, all killers, and we are worshipping them, then you are worshipping a killer! And you are telling me that I have killed? Then please try to understand what is killing, and what is not killing.” Then that man was silenced.
So there may be disturbances, rather we may say there should be. Disturbance must come, because my most beloved guru has withdrawn from amongst us. Should we like to live peacefully? Such a great curse, as it may be called, is thrown on my head, and should I like to live peacefully? In its retinue, disturbance must come, and we are to undergo them. But we must remain sincere, and we must face the difficulty in a proper way. That has come to train me to go in the right direction.
What I have received from my Gurudev, I understood in a rough way. Now, things have come in such an order that I have to scrutinize myself in every position. I have to analyze within me, atma-niksepa: Self analysis has begun. What I have got from him, I am under examination: in what way have I received it? Properly, or only showingly?
The time has come to purify me, to test whether I am a real student, a real disciple, or only in face, only in confession I am his disciple. What is the real position of a real disciple? Should I live in the society, that is the depth of my creed? In what attitude have I accepted his teachings? How deep-rooted is it in me? The fire has come to test me, to test whether I can stand. Is my acceptance real? Or is it a sham, an imitation? This fire will prove that. So we must not be afraid of any adverse circumstances: sukhinah ksatriyah partha labhante yudham irdsham. Krishna says in the Gita that the battle you are facing, a happy ksatriya hankers after this.
A bad workman quarrels with his tools. My karma has come to face me, to surround me, and I can’t avoid that. It is a result of my own karma, it came from within me. I must not quarrel. I must do the proper thing in dealing with that. We have to scrutinize what we thought we understood more accurately, and find out within me, where am I? What is my real need? And how much is my hankering for the real thing. All these things will be expressed. So, this is the real field of sadhana. My sadhana, my advancement needs all these difficulties. Otherwise, we may not know what is progress.
God has no error. Who is commanding the environment? It is not my responsibility, the responsibility of the environment is not on me. My responsibility is only with me. The environment is in the hands of the Lord. He has not done any wrong to me. If I am sincere, then I have to adjust myself with this environment, and to put my faith before Him. By my stand, in any circumstances, in the battle, my patriotism will be examined, will be put to test, whether I am a real soldier or not. Anything may come, but I have to face that. I am not to forget my Lord, my Guru, my Gauranga, my Radha-Govinda, under any circumstances.
Under any unfavourable circumstances, I must stand with my head erect, and say, “Yes! I am a servant of that clan, that sampradaya. Everyone may leave me, I shall stand alone.” With this attitude, we must march. Whatever may be the circumstances. Then the recognition may come in my favour, that, “Yes, under such trying circumstances he is there.” They will be pleased with us.
How selfish am I? The anartha in what percent is in me? What is necessary to be eliminated from me? How much mundane contamination is mixed with the real faith? This must come out, and must be eliminated in different ways: na hi kalyana-krt kascid durgatim tata gacchati. If we want real good, no one can hinder us. With this spirit, we must move. We will be able to understand, what is what.
Even Christ told his followers, “One of you will help me to be caught.” Judas was amongst the twelve. “Amongst twelve followers, there is one who will in this night help me to be handed over to the enemy.” Even this may be possible. “Peter, you will also deny me thrice before the cock crows.” “Oh, no, no, no, I can’t deny you.” But no pride of a devotee does the Lord tolerate.
He wants surrender, complete surrender. “No, no, I am your firm servant.” That ego also must not stand. Peter, who was the leader, he was also exposed. So, the devotees are only tools in the hands of the Lord. There is a story. A Nawab advertised to recruit a sycophant (yes--man). Previously in the court of the kings, they had sycophants. Whatever the Nawab will say, he will give ditto to that, a flatterer. He advertised that, “I want some flatterer.”
So many applications came. Then he had an interview. He began putting questions to them. He asked, “You’ll be able to do your duty properly?” “Yes, I will be able to do it.” In this way, he was putting questions to different persons. “I think you won’t be able to do it.” All said, “No, sir, I shall be able to do.” Dismissed. When the Nawab asked, “You’ll be able to discharge the duty of a flatterer?,” only one said, “Yes, I shall do that my Lord.” “I believe that you won’t be able.” “I also believe like that.” “No, no, no, you’ll be able, you are the fittest.” “Yes, I am the fittest.” “No, no, I doubt.” “Yes, I also doubt.” The Nawab said, “This is the man for the job.” And those that continuously said, “I will be the fit man,” were all dispersed and rejected.
So, our soul must have such flexibility in the service of the Lord. No ego whatsoever, in the external sense. We have our permanent ego within, when the soul enters into that higher domain. The position of that is a separate thing. But this material ego, that must be dissolved cent-per-cent.
Dronacharya was the weapon-master, astra-guru of the Pandavas. One day while testing the progress of the disciples, he put an artificial bird on the top of a tree. One by one he asked them to come take aim. Yudhisthira came and he said, “Fix yourself to hit that bird. Are you ready?” “Yes.” “What do you see?” “I see the bird.” “Nothing else?” “I see the tree.” “Nothing else?” “Yes, I see all of you.” “Go away.” Then he told another disciple: “Hit the eye of the bird. That must be marked by your arrow. Take your aim. What do you see?” “The bird.” “Nothing else?” “Yes. The tree also.” “Oh, go away.” Then Arjuna was taken in. “Prepare yourself.” “Yes, my lord, I have done so.” “Do you see the bird?” “Yes, I see.” “The tree?” “No.” “The whole of the bird?” “No.” “What do you see?” “Only the head.” “The whole of the head?” “No.” “What do you see?” “Only the eye.” “You can see nothing else?” “I can see nothing else.” “Yes, my boy! Put up the arrow!”
So, we should have that sort of aim in our life. Do or die.Whatever the circumstances may come to frighten me, I won’t be frightened. If my own men seem to be the enemy, that does not matter. My own is only Him. And He can not tolerate that any other will be His partner. He is Absolute. He is the Absolute owner of me. He does not tolerate any partnership there. In this way, I am where my spiritual conscience took me. I must follow what I understand, my aspiration. Friends may be converted into foes. Foes may be converted into friends.
But I must stick to my ideal. By His will friends may turn into foes, foes may turn into friends, but for my progress, there must be some elimination, and some new acceptance must be there. If there is to be any real progress, then some sort of elimination, and some sort of newcomers must be there. It can’t be avoided. If I am progressing, if I am of a progressive nature, then there must be elimination, and there must be new beginnings, new friends. It can’t be stopped in our realization.
When we begin our education in the school or class, all may not pass. They may fall back, and we have to make new classmates, and again go up, and then new classmates, and old classmates may fall back. It is quite natural. But it does not mean that we are envious of them. We are sympathetic. We shall try our best to help them.
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