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By Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati

Published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)

[Editors note: The first paragraph of this article is very similar to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati's famous introduction to Sri Brahma-Samhita.]

The materialistic demeanor cannot possibly stretch to the Transcendental Autocrat who is ever inviting the fallen conditioned souls to associate with Him through devotion or eternal serving mood. The phenomenal attractions are often found to tempt sentient beings to enjoy the variegated position which is opposed to undifferenced monism. People are apt to indulge in transitory speculations even when they are to educate themselves on a situation beyond their empiric area or experiencing jurisdiction. The esoteric aspect often induces them to trace out immanence in their outward inspection of transitory and transformable things. This impulse moves them to fix the position of the immanent to an Indeterminate Impersonal Entity, no clue of which could be discerned by moving earth and heaven through their organic senses. It is therefore necessary to help such puzzled souls in their march towards the Personality of the Immanent lying beyond their sensuous gaze of inspection. This in fact is man's highest objective: Search for TRUTH.

We have heard from the Divine voice of Shri Guru Deva the following text of the scriptures: "O thou Muni who art given to mental speculation, whatever act is performed, whether it be mundane or spiritual, should be performed in the way that is conducive to the service of Shri Hari, if one is really anxious to acquire the function of spiritual devotion".

We happen to be servants of the devotees of God. We are not servants of either elevationists or liberationists. We are the bearers of Hari's own footwear. Under the circumstance we do not join issue with the communities that desire any other thing beside the service of Godhead, viz., elevation or liberation. For we know that the worship of Dharma, Artha, Kaama or Moksha is merely deceitfulness. In other words they have a close connection with my addiction to the non-self.

There was a time when Shri Gaursundar (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) in the course of His pilgrimage to different parts of India, had instructed the people in these words, "Whomsoever you meet, instruct him about Krishna. Deliver this country by becoming Guru by My command.' At that time the question arose in our minds as to how we were to discourse regarding the supreme object of desire if we were not ourselves Self-realised souls. Thereupon Shri Gaursundar gave us His assurance: "In this matter you will not be obstructed by the current of worldliness. At this very place you will obtain My company once again." Use every endeavor for the service of Divinity. Do so from the position in which you happen to be placed. In whatever country, in whatever age, in whatever body you may happen to be lodged, use all your endeavour for the Divinity. If we have to carry out the command of Shri Chaitanya there is no other alternative but to discuss all those words that we have heard from the prophetic lips of Shri Gurudeva. The only duty of the servant of Godhead is to try to do that by which one's skill in performing the service of Godhead is continuously developed. The only thing that is worth praying for is this, that our mind may be more and more attracted towards Krishna. We do not want riches or followers nor do we desire to be saved from the misery of birth and death. In this world different persons aspire for ends other than the service of Krishna. They desire Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. They worship various gods for obtaining what they desire. But when we are in the presence of Mahadeva, let us hail the Lord thus: "Glory to the ruler of the realm of Vrindavana, Whose forehead is adorned with the moon, glory to Him who is worshipped by Sanandan, Sanatana and Narada, glory to the Chief of cowherds! O Lord bestow on me unceasing, unconditional love to the twin lotus Feet of the amorous Hero of raja." When we approach Katyayani we say, "I bow to thee, Katyayani who have power to delude, who have power of causing all occurrences, who have power over our selves. May the Devi make the Son of the cow-herd Nanda, my Husband."

We do not pray either for the cure of disease or for liberation by a process which may mean the simultaneous destruction of both disease and patient. We approach them and say, "May you bless us that our minds may be directed to Krishna." The people of this world pray for being the possessors of things that are other than Krishna. But the ambrosial words of Shri Gurudeva declare that Krishna is the only real possession. We are in the grip of non-spiritual prepossessions. They obstruct our quest of Krishna. It is necessary to discuss how we may be rescued from the clutches of such prepossessions. It is for this reason that our questions were framed. We did not wish to pick others' pockets. We did not intend to inconvenience others. We are above such meanness. Those who are addicted to the service of lust and anger may judge differently. But let us pay heed to what our former Guru Shrila Madhavendra Puri has said regarding our proper duty: "I have indulged, times out of number, in every form of wickedness, yielding to lust and other passions. But the outworn passions have had no pity on my poor self. They continue to trouble me shamelessly and remorselessly. Lord of the Jadus, for this reason, just now, giving them up and knowing truth, I have come to You to throw myself into Your protection which alone can save me from all fear. May You employ me fully in Your Service."

We are indeed beggars. But for that reason we need not be beggars of desires that pander to the gratification of our senses. It had been our prayer that all communities of 'Sadhus' might profitably seek the mercy of Chaitanya Chandra. They would be filled with the greatest admiration, if they do so. Our prayer has been formulated by one of our Acharyas in the following words: "Holding the blade of straw between my teeth, falling prostrate at your feet and making hundreds of humble supplications, I say this: O, Sadhus, casting away everything to a distance ever practise loving devotion to the Feet of Chaitanya Chandra."

What Sri Chaitanyadeva has told us in a special manner, the straight path by following which many can be delivered from all sensuous desires, is nothing else but accepting the protection of the service of Godhead. He said, 'For one who is free from all sensuous desires, who is anxious to serve Godhead, who is desirous of getting across the ocean of this world, the contemplation of, or association with, worldly people and carnal women are, alas, worse even than the swallowing of poison.'

It is better to commit suicide by swallowing poison than to associate with people who desire other things than Krishna, or seek the enjoyment of such things. Having once begun to serve Hari, if such a person becomes attached to things other than Krishna, he is thereby utterly ruined. Bharata became King of Bharatavarsha. He had formerly practised a great variety of endeavours for spiritual progress, had practised asceticism, had made actual progress on the path of the service of Hari. But he had to be born as the young one of a deer. He had conceived a very slight desire for an object other than Krishna. He had wished to perform what is ordinarily known in the world as an act of kindness. It was nothing more serious than a slight desire to serve a helpless animal, but even for this reason Bharata had to be born as a deer. Therefore the lotus feet of our Shri Gurudeva command us to have no duty other than the service of Krishna. 'May you have your mind fixed towards Krishna' is the only proper benediction.

Advaitacharya at a certain time indulged constantly in preaching the doctrine of undifferentiated union with Brahman. Shri Gaursundar desired to put an end to his activities. For this purpose He set out from Shri Mayapur in the company of Lord Nityananda. They proceeded towards Santipur by way of Lalitpur. At Lalitpur they met a sannyasin who kept the company of prostitutes. The two Lords, full of Divine fervour, sought the hospitality of that profligate sannyasin. The sannyasin blessed Mahaprabhu Whom he considered to be an ordinary boy thus: "May you have riches, descendants, a good wife and learning." On hearing this benediction of the sannyasin Mahaprabhu said it was no blessing at all but a curse. The only real benediction is that one may obtain the favour of Krishna. The adulterous sannyasin, on hearing these words, said to Mahaprabhu, "I have today direct experience of what I have heard before. Now-a-days if anybody desires well of another and says so, that person returns the favour by belabouring his well-wisher with the cudgel. I find the behaviour of this Brahmana boy to be exactly like that. I most gladly blessed him that he may gain riches, followers and good fortune. I had no other object than his well-being. This boy thinks that it is no benefit but an attempt to do him harm. He is ready to blame me for this." Thereupon Lord Nityananda looked wise and displaying the gravity of a guardian of the boy said to that profligate sannyasin, "It is not up to you to argue with this boy. I have understood how great you really are. Do not be offended with this boy, for my sake."

The adulterous sannyasin was pleased with the words of Nityananda Prabhu. He offered to feed him. Nityananda sanctifies the fallen. Nityananda and Mahaprabhu having bathed in the Ganges ate the fruits given them by the sannyasin at his house. Presently the profligate sannyasin threw out repeated hints to Nityananda Prabhu about accepting "Aananda' meaning 'Wine." The wife of the sannyasin forbade him to annoy the guests in that manner while they were taking their meal. Mahaprabhu asked Nityananda Prabhu, "What does the sannyasin mean by the word 'ananda"? Nityananda Prabhu was acquainted with the behaviour of all kinds of persons. He informed Gaursundar that the adulterous sannyasin referred to wine by the word 'ananda'. No sooner did Biswambhar (Gaursundar) catch his words than, muttering the Name of Vishnu, He at once gave up eating, performed the Achamana and without delay ran to the Ganges with Nityananda Prabhu and plunged into the stream.

By means of this act Mahaprabhu taught the duty of avoiding bad company. He taught more than this. In the words of Thakur Brindavandas, "The Lord favours the adulterous and the drunkards. Yet He kills one who is versed in the Vedanta if he maligns the Sadhus. This person was a sannyasin. Yet he did not hesitate to drink wine. He also kept company with carnal women. Yet the Lord went to his house. If he is not actually benefited in this birth it will do him good when he is born again. The only persons whom the Lord does not love in His heart, are those who speak ill of others maliciously. All the atheistical sannyasins missed the good fortune of obtaining a sight of the Lord. This is proved by the case of all the sannyasins who lived at Kasi."

Those who desire liberation and expect to merge in the undifferentiated Brahman are greater hypocrites than even those who desire worldly enjoyment. Accordingly Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has advised all persons, who really seek their own good, by all means to avoid their company.

Urvashi found that the period when she could gain her selfish purpose was over; she did not hesitate forthwith to desert Pururava or Aila King of Chandravansha. Thereupon Aila, feeling the cruelty of Uravshi, was cured of his hankering after worldly enjoyment. It was in this connection that Shri Bhagavan said to Uddhava, 'Therefore one who is wise should attach himself to the companionship of the good, giving up completely all association with bad men. The very words spoken by the Sadhus have certainly the power of destroying all evil tendencies of one's mind." [1]

The only duty of the "Sadhus" is to cut away all the accumulated wicked propensities of every individual. This alone is the causeless natural desire of all the Sadhus. Worldly people possess a double nature. They express one kind of sentiment but internally cherish a different purpose. Moreover they want to advertise this duplicity as a mark of liberation or love of harmony. Those who are unwilling to show any duplicity, wish to be frank and straightforward, or in other words to exercise unambiguously the function of the soul; such really sincere persons are called sectarian and orthodox by those who practice duplicity. We will cultivate the society only of those who are straightforward. We will not keep company with any person who is not so. We must by all means avoid bad company. We are advised to keep at a distance of a hundred cubits from animals of the horned species. We should observe the same caution in regard to all insincere persons.

There was a time when Thakur Narottam was pleased to tell the plain truth to many worthy persons who came of the highest lineage. Thakur Narottam, in the eye of worldly people, had manifested himself just as a member of an Uttaradiya Kayastha family. For telling the truth he became the object of attack by bad people. Those who judge other people by the testimony of their senses, are, as a matter of fact, maliciously disposed. These persons, devoid of sound judgment, began to find fault with Thakur Narottama. Why was he, born in a kayastha family, going to set up as a religious teacher of persons born in Brahmana families and also make them his disciples? When these accusations reached the ears of Narottam Thakur he said that rather than provoke the opposition of any person he would completely desist from instructing anybody. Shri Ramakrishna Bhattacharya and Shri Ganganarayan Chakravarti, who were disciples of Thakur-mahasaya, thereupon said that if he gave up teaching the world will go to the dogs and there will be a great increase in the number of atheistical Pashandas in the world. Saying this one of them put on the garb of a betel-seller and the other attired himself as a potter. Meanwhile the whole body of proud Pandits of the hostile community arrived at Kheturi with the intention of defeating Thakur-mahasaya in open controversy. After their arrival at Kheturi they went to the bazar and proceeded to the potter's shop for purchasing earthen posts in which to cook their food. The potter began to talk with them in the Sanskrit language. From there those Pandits went to the betel-shop for purchasing betel. The betel-seller also talked with the Pandits in pure Sanskrit. At this those proud Pandits thought within themselves that it was a most wonderful country where even potters and betel sellers could talk in the purest Sanskrit. Thakur Narottama was the greatest person of such a place. It was impossible to conceive how great a Pandit he could be. Therefore instead of losing their reputation by approaching him it was better to leave the place without delay. Thinking in this way those Pandits hurriedly left the village. Thus we find that those who obtain the protection of Truth are always liable to be attacked.

What is ordinarily called unfair judgment or sound judgment, is neither of them the same as Truth. Many persons suppose Truth to be the same as common-sense. That which cannot be harmonised with common-sense is not admitted as Truth by such persons. But what is the nature of persons whose common-sense is supposed to be identical with the Truth? Is it the common sense of souls who are free from the defects of liability to error, inadvertence, defective senses, desire to deceive? Or is it the common sense that is born of the experience of changeable minds subject to all those defects? The common sense of the ordinary run of mankind, who are subject to all those defects, is at best only mental speculation. It may sometimes exhibit a certain impression of relative or temporary truth. But it is not really Truth. The intellectual faculty of persons who are led by the blind active forces of physical Nature cannot understand the topic of the unadulterated, self-revealing function of pure spiritual existence. A certain person is tasting the deliciousness of an excellent preparation of good pudding. Another person arrives there and proposes that a quantity of lime and mortar, which happens to be in his possession, might be mixed with the pudding to complete its deliciousness. If this advice is actually taken one is thereby prevented from getting the pleasure of eating good pudding. The taste of the pudding is bound to be spoiled by such a policy. Bits of stone, lime, etc., scorch and choke the passage of the throat and cause the death of the person who swallows them. Bhakti or service of Godhead is supremely unconditional, self-sufficient, perfectly pure and absolutely devoid of all earthly quality. If any person advises that the pure devotional impulse may be perfected by adulterating it with desires other than service of Godhead, such as fruitive activity, empiric knowledge, attempt to become one with Iswara by means of Yoga, etc., all of which are the products of this material world, then the advice of such a person is exactly similar to that of mixing lime and mortar with good pudding. Lime and mortar are quite foreign to good pudding. The two things never suit one another. Fruitive activity, empiric knowledge, Yoga, are activities of the individual soul in the state of bondage. They are the functions of the material body and mind. On the other hand Bhakti is the natural impulse of the pure soul. It is a spiritual function. It is the activity of the soul who is absolutely free from all worldly defects. It is for this reason that there cannot be any real mixture of the service of Godhead with fruitive work, empiric knowledge and similar worldly activities which are foreign to bhakti by their very nature, being the function of entities that are categorically different from the soul. But when the fruitive work, empiric knowledge, etc., recognize their subordination to Bhakti and are practised in obedience to bhakti then such activity may be termed as bhakti although it may seem to be adulterated with fruitive work and empiric knowledge. Such adulterated bhakti may help a person to attain the path that leads to pure Bhakti which is the transcendental function. When a person attains to the transcendental service of Godhead there is then no longer any adulteration. It is this which finds expression in an oft-quoted Shloka of the celestial sage, Narada, "That activity which is prescribed by the Shastras in reference to Hari is certainly called Bhakti. By its means the transcendental Bhakti is gained."

We are not prepared to collaborate with those who are given to worldly activities. There are persons who are ambitious of climbing to the top of the Himalaya of progress by means of their mental speculation based on the experience of the external world. We are not prepared to cultivate association with empiricists of this type who profess to be able to approach the Truth by the ascending process from experience to the unknown. 'We will not allow any hostile person among ourselves but will always keep him on the other side of our boundary'. This is the advice of our Gurudeva. We do not want the person who is given to good eating and sensuality. Such persons are not really genuine seekers of the Truth. How will our purpose be served with the help of persons who possess a double nature? There is no correspondence between what they say and do. The tiding that the sweet and healthy words of our Shri Gurudeva have brought us will not be listened to by persons who have a double tongue. They will never lend their serving ear to the message. Lay men connot [sic] understand us. Those who lives have not become identical with that of the devotee, as is very well illustrased [sic] in Shrimad Bhagavatam, will not be able to understand our message.

It is for this reason that the Bhagavata instructs us, to turn over a new leaf, "Persons of good sense must entirely give up all association with bad company and cultivate close association with the Sadhus. There is not doubt that the words of the Sadhu possess the power of destroying the evil propensities of one's mind. The Sadhus in this way benefit every one who associates with them". There are many things which we do not disclose to the Sadhu. The real Sadhu makes us speak out what we keep concealed in our hearts. He then applies the knife. The very word "Sadhu" has no other meaning than this. He stands in front of the block with the uplifted sacrificial knife in his hand. The sensuous desires of men are like the goats. The Sadhu stands there to kill those desires by the merciful stroke of the keen edge of the sacrificial knife in the form of unpleasant language. If the Sadhu turn into my flatterer then he does me harm, he becomes my enemy. If he gives us flattery then we are led to the road that brings enjoyment but no real well-being.

It is not proper to hear the exposition of the Bhagavata by one who does not live the life enjoined by the Bhagavata. It is our duty to associate with a Sadhu who is better than ourselves. 'Association with those who are better than oneself is association with Sadhus'. But who really possesses the life of the Bhagavata (God's own)? "He is called 'Free' in this life whose only endeavor is for the service of Hari in every activity of mind and speech and in all circumstances". "May the mind be directed to Krishna" this is the only form of benediction that is uttered by the Sadhus. The contrary form "May the inclination towards Krishna be destroyed giving rise to the ambition to lord over things other than Krishna," is never the form of the benediction of the Sadhus.

The word bhakti (service of Godhead) cannot be properly used except in connection with the word Krishna. Krishna alone is the only Object of bhakti. Brahman is the object of knowledge. The paramatman (Supreme soul) is the object of the effort to approximate. But Krishna alone is the only object of worship or service. We shall explain later on in the course of our discourse how Krishna alone can be the only Object of worship.


[1] Vide Bh. XI, 26-26