by Swami B.G. Narasingha
“His Last Instructions” is an article adapted from a lecture given by Śrīla B.G. Narasiṅgha Mahārāja on the disappearance day of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, on December 15th, 2000. Mahārāja quotes Bengali verses composed by Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī that delineate the last instructions of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. These verses can be found in the book, ‘Of Love and Separation.’
Just a week prior to the departure of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura from this mortal world (Thursday, January 1, 1937, at 5:30 am) he gave many essential instructions to his disciples. These instructions were later compiled in Bengali verse by one of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s most affectionate associate servants, Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has said:
sakale parama utsāha sahakāre
rūpa raghunātha vāṇī pracāra sabāra
All of you preach the message of Rūpa and Raghunātha to everyone with great enthusiasm.
rūpānugā-pada-dhuli haite sabāra
(jena) carama ākāṅkṣā citte jāge anibāra
May the ultimate desire to become a speck of dust at the lotus feet of the followers of Śrī Rūpa remain ever awake in our hearts.
It is being recommended here that for all spiritual perfection one should desire to become a ‘speck of dust’ at the lotus feet of the followers of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda. To achieve even the most negligible position in the subjective plane of divinity will draw the highest benefit for the jīva. However, there are some devotees who have raised an objection by stating that we should desire to become gopīs, that being the highest perfection.
So are we to think that Sarasvatī Ṭhākura on the verge of entering the eternal līlās of the Supreme Lord has misguided his disciples into some inferior or unknown region? I would think not.
The path of perfection is shown by the ācārya and with regards to the followers of Śrī Caitanyadeva that supreme perfection is found at the lotus feet of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and his intimate followers. In his last instructions Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has mentioned several times ‘to be a speck of dust at the lotus feet of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī.’ Is it a novel expression or is it something more? Indeed, such is the most straightforward expression of how to attain life’s ultimate goal, loving devotional service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the divine serving group of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
The highest wealth of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava is that of eternal servitude to the illustrious queen of Vṛndāvana, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī (rādhā-dāsyam). For admittance into the circle of Her intimate servants Śrī Rūpa holds the key. Admittance into Her group will only be possible for one who has caught the foot dust of Rūpa with all his heart and soul. It is the law of that land. It cannot be otherwise.
advaya-jñāna-tattva vraje vrajendra-nandana
(mūla)-viṣaya-vigraha sei sarva-sevya-dhana
Vrajendra-nandana Kṛṣṇa is the principle of non-dual consciousness. He is the root object of devotion and the treasured object of service for all.
tāṅra aprākṛta indriya tarpaṇa uddeśe
āśrayānugatye sabe thāka mile miśe
In order to satisfy the transcendental senses of the one, non-dual Supreme Truth, remain united in following Rādhā, the original reservoir of love for Him.
In the transcendental land of Vraja (Vṛndāvana) where love (prema) is supreme, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Subject-Divinity (viṣaya-vigraha) and Śrī Rādhā is the Object-Divinity (āśraya-vigraha). The love of Śrī Rādhā (Her capacity to satisfy the transcendental senses of Kṛṣṇa) and that of Her intimate circle of friends is unsurpassed by any other group. Therefore, we should strive to perfect this human life by learning the ways of love by following in the footsteps of the residents of Vraja headed by the gopīs, always united under the banner of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī
sabāra uddeśya eka śrī-hari-bhajana
tāhā sādhibāre sabe karaha jatana
Everyone make the effort to perfect your worship of Śrī Hari (Kṛṣṇa); make this the only purpose of your lives.
du’dinera jāni ei anitya-saṁsāra
ihāte mamatā tyaji hao māyā-pāra
Remember that this world is temporary and lasts only a day or two. Give up your family attachment and transcend this world of illusion.
kona-rūpe jīvana nirvāha kari cala
nitya-tattva kṛṣṇa-bhakti karaha sambala
Maintain your worldly obligations in whatever way you can, but make the eternal principle, devotion to Kṛṣṇa, the true provision for your voyage through life.
In this world of birth and death only one thing has real value and that is devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Whatever else there may be is only an illusion and it is sure to perish today or tomorrow (in a day or two). The world is temporary and filled with sorrow. Those who desire real happiness will make devotion to Kṛṣṇa the main principle in their life.
vipad gañjanā śata śata se lāñchanā
āsuk tathāpi hari-bhajana cheḍo nā
Let hundreds of dangers, insults or persecutions come, but despite them, do not give up your worship of Kṛṣṇa.
sarva-vighna-vināśana prabhu gaura-hari
avaśya śrī-pade sthāna dibena dayā kari
Lord Gaura Hari destroys all obstacles on the path. He will surely be merciful and give you a place at His lotus feet.
This is not only an instruction, but this may be taken as a special benediction also. Those who follow closely the instruction of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura are sure to achieve the merciful grace of Lord Gaura Hari (Śrī Caitanyadeva).
On the earnest prayer of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has come down to this world from the personal entourage of Śrī Caitanyadeva. It is mentioned in the śāstra that a divine personality would advent in this world to consolidate the four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas. In Premeya-ratnāvali by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana a verse has been mentioned in this regard from the Padma Purāṇa as follows:
ataḥ kalau bhaviṣyanti catvāraḥ sampradāyinaḥ
śrī-brahma-rudra-sanakāḥ vaiṣṇavam kṣiti-pāvanāḥ
catvāras te kalau bhāvyā hyutkale puruṣottamāt
“Four sampradāyas inaugurated by Lakṣmī, Brahmā, Śiva, and the Kumāras will appear in the holy place of Lord Puruṣottama (Jagannātha) in Utkala (Orissa) to purify the earth in Kali-yuga.”
If one makes a pilgrimage to the most holy samādhi-mandira of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta in Māyāpura-dhāma one will find this śloka from the Padma Purāṇa written on the wall behind the mūrti of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. It was thus understood by the disciples of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and by all the noble Vaiṣṇavas of Jagannātha Purī, Vṛndāvana, and Māyāpura that Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was indeed the personality that fulfilled the statement of the Padma Purāṇa. This understanding was based not only on the fact that Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had taken his birth at Jagannātha Purī but it was a self-evident truth that Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had consolidated the teachings of the four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas. Under the banner of Śrī Caitanyadeva the teachings of the four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas was preached by Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, spreading the Holy Name in every town and village as predicted by Śrī Caitanyadeva Himself.
pṛthivite āche yata nagarādi-grāma
sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma
“My Name will be propagated in all the towns and villages of the world.” (Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, Antya 4.126)
In the main temple at Śrī Caitanya Maṭha established by Sarasvatī Ṭhākura at Māyāpura one will find the śrī-mūrtis of each of the four Vaiṣṇava sampradāya-ācāryas (Śrī Madhvācārya, Śrī Viṣṇu Swami, Śrī Nimbārka, and Śrī Rāmānuja) at each of the four-corners of the main Deity sanctum of Śrī Śrī Guru-Gaurāṅga-Gāndharvikā-Giridhāri.
The service of these four sampradāya-ācāryas as seen at Śrī Caitanya Maṭha established by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta is indeed the first of its kind in the world. This is indeed unique and certainly echoes the prophecy of the Padma Purāṇa.
Also in the Sūtra-Khaṇḍa of Śrī Caitanya-maṅgala of Śrīla Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura, we find the mention of a great general (senāpati) who will spread the mercy of Śrī Caitanyadeva outside of Bengal:
yadi pāpi chāḍi dharma dūre deśe yāya
mora sena-pati-bhakta yaibe tathāya
“Even if the sinners reject religion or flee to other countries, still they will get the mercy. I will send my senāpati–bhakta to go there and deliver them.”
Senāpati means general and a general must have such intelligence and capacity that he can lead other great men and qualified persons in battle, the battle against māyā, illusion. Before the advent of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura the pure theistic teachings of Śrī Caitanyadeva were all but lost or destroyed. The situation was so lamentable that even the process of saṅkīrtana (congregational chanting of the Holy Name) had been stopped —even in Navadvīpa the sacred land where Śrī Caitanyadeva had appeared. Prior to Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s advent there was no organized preaching to spread Śrī Caitanyadeva’s teachings nor was there any bona-fide institution to shelter those who wished to sacrifice their lives in devotion to Godhead.
To spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement all over the world Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura established the Gauḍīya Maṭha and instituted the sannyāsa āśrama. He then sent his sannyāsī preachers throughout India and to western countries to perform the Gauḍīya missionary activities. In 1965 our spiritual master, the foremost preacher disciple of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, came to the western world to fulfil the order and desire of his spiritual master. Our spiritual master said many times that the great Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement that he was conducting (ISKCON) was actually going on by the order, the desire, and the mercy of his Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta. Many times our spiritual master made such statements as follow:
“So far I am concerned, I am a humble disciple of His Divine Grace Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who was the original pioneer of spreading this movement in the western world. During his lifetime, up to 1936, he started 64 main centres all over the world, including centres in Berlin, Germany and London, England. His Divine Grace entrusted me to spread this movement in western countries, and since 1965, I am trying in my humble way to spread this movement in this part of the world.” (letter to Mr. David J. Exley, Chief NGO Section at the United Nations, dated 68-02-21)
“Actually I am the most unworthy servant of His Divine Grace (Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura) because I delayed to execute his order by so many years. But it was better I began late than never, and therefore he has kindly sent to me so many young hearts to cooperate with me in this great movement.” (letter to Kīrtanānanda, dated 70-05-06)
In recent years, some of the disciples of Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda have forgotten the eminent position of their parama-guru, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Attempting to illuminate the special position of Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda some of his disciples have unwittingly omitted the importance of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura along with the importance of all previous Gauḍīya sampradāya ācāryas. This group of disciples has declared that Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda is the ācārya for all Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas for the remaining 10,000 years of the Golden Age of Kali-yuga. Such is a zealous declaration, but it unfortunately indicates a genuine lack of the fundamental understanding of our guru-paramparā system by glaringly omitting the importance of our parama-gurus and lastly by even omitting the position of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda.
It is indeed a fact that our Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda was an empowered representative of the Supreme Lord, as it is said:
guruvajñaṁ śīrasi-dhāryaṁ śaktyāveśa sva-rūpine
hare-kṛṣṇeti mantreṇa pāścatya-prācya-tāriṇe
“Taking the order of his guru on his head, he became empowered by Nityānanda Prabhu to act as a śaktyāveśa avatāra. He distributed the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra all over the eastern and western world, delivering and uplifting all fallen souls.” (Śrīpāda B. S. Govinda Mahārāja, Śrī Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha)
Although the above verse is accepted as fact (not only by the disciples of Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, but by many of his godbrothers also) it does not nullify the facts concerning the previous ācāryas in the Gauḍīya disciplic succession.
In the ontological line of disciplic succession it is unanimously recognized that Śrī Caitanyadeva is the founder of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement in Kali-yuga. Thereafter, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda was personally recognized and appointed by Śrī Caitanyadeva as the most qualified devotee to spread bhakti-rasa (Kṛṣṇa consciousness). It cannot be otherwise, since it is Rūpa Gosvāmī who in his siddha-rūpa is Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī, the leader of the intimate group of Śrī Rādhā’s servants. It is understood by all the bona-fide Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas that Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī is the leader (founder-ācārya) of our sampradāya for the duration of the Golden Age of Kali-yuga.
To spread the glories of the rūpānugā sampradāya (the succession of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī), Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura appeared in this world at the end of the 19th century. Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja has emphasized this in the following words:
“Many heterodox sects came into existence that vocally claimed to be following Mahāprabhu, but in fact were simply using His name to promote their false doctrines. The Lord Himself could not tolerate deviation from the truths of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava doctrine and He would be greatly pained by misrepresentations of the divine relations between the Lord and His devotees. For this reason, Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rūpa Gosvāmī appeared again at the desire of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu through Śrīla Saccidānanda Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, to preserve and protect the doctrines taught by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Preaching these doctrines of pure devotion, these two great souls gave great joy to the Lord Himself and to all of His followers in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava school.” (Of Love and Separation, pp. 89)
Certainly it must be said that all the dedicated disciples and followers of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura are of no less importance than their guru since they carry forth the same message. Yet it does not look good if the future generations of devotees omit the importance of the previous ācāryas. Therefore, it must be said that all of them are glorious.
śrī-kṛṣṇa-vimukha heri adhikāṁśa jana
śuddha-kṛṣṇa-sevā-kathā nā kare grahaṇa
hayo nā utsāha-hīna tāhāte kakhana
cheḍo na jīvātu tava nijera bhajana
When you see that most people are indifferent to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and show no interest in selfless service to Kṛṣṇa and in talks about Him, don’t be discouraged. Most of all, never give up your bhajana, your life and soul.
nija sarvasva kṛṣṇa — kathā śravaṇa-kīrtana
chāḍiyā dāridrya kena karibe varaṇa
Why would you accept the poverty of a life without hearing and chanting about Kṛṣṇa, your sole wealth?
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has also mentioned in one of his songs, nāma binā kichu nāhiko āro, caudda-bhūvana-mājhe (Aruṇodaya Kīrtana 1, Gītavalī). He says, “There is nothing except the Holy Name within all the fourteen worlds.” Whatever we find in this material world such as wealth, prestige, power, kingdoms, and so many things actually have no permanent existence, it is all a temporary illusion. The Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa is non-different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself and therefore it is eternal. The Holy Name is not destroyed by time nor is the Holy Name under the three modes of material nature. The Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa is purely transcendental as stated in Padma Purāṇa as follows:
nāma cintāmaṇiḥ kṛṣṇas caitanya-rasa-vigrahaḥ
pūrṇaḥ śuddho nitya-mukto ‘bhinnatvam nāma-nāminoḥ
“The Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Kṛṣṇa Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Kṛṣṇa’s Name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Kṛṣṇa Himself. Since Kṛṣṇa’s Name is not contaminated by the material qualities, and there is no question of it’s being involved with, Kṛṣṇa’s Name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the Name of Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa Himself are identical.”
Therefore, who other than a person who has lost all intelligence, would give up the chanting of the Lord’s Holy Name?
kṛṣṇa-pāda-padma māga jīvera kalyāṇa
acire purābe vāñchā sarva-śaktiman
Beg for Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, the ultimate benediction for all living beings. The Lord is all-powerful and will quickly fulfil your desire.
asamartha nahe kṛṣṇa dhare sarva-bala
(kṛṣṇa )-sevakera vāñchā kabhu nā haya viphala
Kṛṣṇa is not incapable. He is omnipotent and His servant’s desires never go in vain.
tṛṇapekṣā hīna dīna āpane mānibe
tru-sama sahya-guṇa bhūṣita haibe
amāni mānada haye sadā nāma labe
śrī-nāma-bhajane sarva-pradhāna jānibe
Please always chant the name of the Lord, being humbler than a blade of grass and more tolerant than a tree. Give all respect to others and demand none for yourself. Make the worship of the Holy Name the most important aspect of your devotional life.
Here we find paraphrased the third verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam:
tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣnunā
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
Humility is often described as the crest-jewel of the Vaiṣṇava qualities. Humility is indeed the quality of a devotee that most attracts the Supreme Lord. We have seen that knowledge, austerity, power, becoming an author, or even a world-preacher are sometimes easily achieved, but those who have developed real qualities of humility are rare souls in this world.
Our śīkṣā-guru Śrīla B. R. Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī used to say that humility means to be submissive to the order of our guru. Humility does not mean to be complacent or obedient to the commands of the rouges and thieves, the non-devotees. We must eagerly take the instruction of our guru on our head as our life and soul. We must be ready to sacrifice everything and anything for his satisfaction. We must not project ourselves in any light, but we should strive always to be a transparent via media for our guru to work through us. That is real humility.
ihāte laiyā dīkṣā bhajibena vijña
A wise person will worship the Lord after taking initiation in the sacrifice of the Holy Name inaugurated by Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya and His associates.
sapta-śikha nāma yajñānale ātmāhuti
viśeṣe kalite ei śāstrera jukati
Offer yourself up to the seven flames of this sacrificial fire. The scriptures say that this especially is the religious principle for the Age of Kali.
In his purport to Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Śrī Sanmodana Bhāṣyam of the first verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has mentioned seven stages of perfection that may be compared to the seven flames of the saṅkīrtana of the Holy Name. The seven stages of perfection in chanting of the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa are as follows:
(1) Chanting of the Holy Name cleanses the mirror of the heart.
(2) The chanting of the Holy Name protects the devotee from material existence.
(3) The chanting of the Holy Name bestows the highest benediction on the living entities.
(4) The chanting of the Holy Name is the source of all transcendental knowledge.
(5) The chanting of the Holy Name expands the ocean of transcendental bliss.
(6) The chanting of the Holy Name cures the disease of material existence.
(7) The chanting of the Holy Name is the essential ingredient in every devotional service.
Therefore, let the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa be victorious all over the world.
karma-vīra dharma-vīra haye kāja nāi
jñāna-yoga-tapa-ādi pathe kaṣṭa pāi
We do not seek to become heroes performing great works or religious deeds. We will become distressed if we take up the paths of knowledge, works or austerities.
This material world is the plane of exploitation where the conditioned souls perform works for enjoying the senses. A little superior to the plane of exploitation is the plane of renunciation where one acquires knowledge and sometimes performs severe austerities for liberation. Superior to both the plane of exploitation and the plane of renunciation is the plane of dedication. Dedication alone is the inherent nature of the living entity.
jīvera ‘svarūpa ’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’
kṛṣṇera ‘taṭaṣṭha-śakti’, ‘bhedābheda-prakāśa’
“It is the living entities constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa because he is the marginal energy of Kṛṣṇa and a manifestation simultaneously one and different from the Lord.” (Cc. Madhya 20,108)
Therefore, if a devotee takes up the path of either exploitation or renunciation he will surely meet with distress. Dedication to the Supreme Personality of Godhead alone can fully satisfy the soul.
śrī-rūpera pada-dhūli jānaha svarūpa
sei se sarvasva tāhe nā hao virūpa
Know that your true identity is to be a speck of dust at the lotus feet of Śrī Rūpa Prabhu; don’t go against this identity, which is your treasure.
rūpānugā-varya hana śrī-bhaktivinoda
se bhaktivinoda-dhārāya bahe śuddha moda
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura is the best of the followers of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī. The pure joy of devotional service comes in the stream that started with him.
As we have heard from our śīkṣā-guru Śrīla B. R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja, it was not possible for Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura to conceive of Kṛṣṇa without the intervention of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura in him. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja has said:
“We have seen that Prabhupāda took Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura as guru from the internal consideration. His outside and inside was filled with Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense. He installed Deities of Vinoda-vilāsa, Vinoda-rāma, Vinodānanda, and Vinoda-prāṇa in many maṭhas. We saw his attempt also through his Gurudeva, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, to approach Rādhā-Govinda and Mahāprabhu. It was inconceivable, not possible without Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s influence in him.” (Follow the Angels, pp. 163)
bhakti-rasāmṛta-pūrṇa sei pūta dhārā
kakhano habe nā ruddha śata-vighna dvārā
That stream is holy and full of nectarine flavours of devotion. Even a hundred obstacles will never obstruct it.
se dhārāya haiyā snāta buddhimān jana
bhaktivinoda-mano’bhiṣṭa karaha pūrāṇa
Intelligent persons who have bathed in the waters of that stream should endeavour to fulfil the heartfelt wishes of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura.
bahu yogya kṛtī-vyakti āchaha tomarā
hao sabe āguwān esa kari tvarā
Amongst you are many capable and worthy individuals. So all of you quickly come forward and take up this task.
dante tṛṇa dhari ei jāci punaḥ punaḥ
śrī-rūpa-pada-dhūli jena hai janma janma
Taking grass between my teeth, I pray repeatedly that I may become a speck of dust at Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī’s lotus feet, birth after birth.
This prayer at the feet of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī appeared again and again on the lips of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura just prior to his departure from this mortal world. On the evening before his pastime of entering the eternal līlās of the Supreme Lord, Sarasvatī Ṭhākura requested Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja to sing his most favourite bhajana, ‘Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī-pada.’ This song was sung by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja at which time tears of love glided down from the eyes of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and he clutched his hands to his chest in feelings of great separation from the most cherished object of his worship.
ihā vinā anyākāṅkṣa nahuka hṛdaye
ei vāñchā sarva-hṛde hauk udaye
Other than this, I pray that no other desire will manifest in my or anyone else’s heart.
e saṁsāre thāka-kāle āche nānā bādhā
tāhe muhyamān kabhu nahibe sarvathā
While living in this world, we encounter many difficulties; but there is no need for us to be ever bewildered by these difficulties.
bādhā mātra dūra karāi nahe prayojana
ataḥpara kibā labhya cinte vijña-jana
We need make no effort to remove any of these obstacles. What is necessary for us, while we are still here, is to learn what is beyond —what will be the nature of our eternal life.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura often said that he admitted to no deficiency in this world except the lack of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If we can remove the ignorance that covers the living entities eternal identity, then in that one stroke we can remove all the problems of the world. There is no need to endeavour independently to solve the problems of the world. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the only and final solution.
nitya-ātmā āmi mora nitya sei jīvana
ekhani hauk tāra tattva-nirdhāraṇa
Let me realize at this very moment the nature of my eternal spiritual identity and my eternal life in the spiritual world.
ākarṣaṇa-vikarṣaṇera vastu āche jata
cāhi vā nā cāhi emana kahibe vā kata
There are so many things that attract and repel us. There is no end to the things that we want and don’t want.
ei duhuṅ mimāmsā śīghra kari matimān
nitya-tattva kṛṣṇa-bhakti karaha sandhāna
We have to resolve what exactly we do or do not want and decide to search out our devotional service to Kṛṣṇa, the eternal truth.
Human life is a rare opportunity to make progress in spiritual life. If after coming to the human form of life one neglects the chance to make spiritual progress, then it must be considered that such a person is the most unfortunate being.
emana durlabha mānava-deho
pāiyā ki koro bhāva na keho
ebe nā bhajile yaśodā-suta
carame poribe lāje
“You have achieved this rare human body. Don’t you care for this gift? If you do not worship the darling of Mother Yaśodā now, then great sorrow awaits you at the time of your death.” (Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda, Aruṇodaya Kīrtana 1, Gītavalī)
The intelligent human being should understand that this mortal world is not his eternal home. This mortal world is a foreign land where there is danger at every step, padam padam yad vipadam na teṣām, danger at every step. Therefore, with great determination one should make devotion to Śrī Kṛṣṇa the sole aim in life.
o duwera yuddhe jadi jayī hate cāo
(tabe) aprākṛta nāmākṛṣṭa hale rakṣā pāo
If you wish to conquer over attraction and repulsion then you should remember that by becoming attracted to the transcendental Holy Name, you will be delivered from them.
kṛṣṇa-sevā rasa-kathā tabe ta bujhibe
tuccha saba rasa prati ghṛṇā upajibe
Then you will understand the nature of service to Kṛṣṇa and the taste of His divine topics. Then you will feel nothing but disgust for the other insignificant pleasures of this world.
kṛṣṇānuśīlana jata vardhita haibe
(jaḍa) viṣaya-pipāsā tata kamite thākibe
As you increase cultivating your consciousness of Kṛṣṇa, your thirst for material sense-objects will decrease.
In Kali-yuga chanting the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa is the only recommended process for spiritual perfection, as stated in the Bṛhad-nāradīya Purāṇa (3.8.126):
harer nāma harer nāma, harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāstya eva, nāstya eva gatir anyatha
“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.”
There are nine processes of devotional service; śravaṇam, kīrtanam, smaraṇam, pāda-sevanam, arcanam, vandanam, dāsyam, sakhyam, and ātma-nivedanam. In each of these processes the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa is the central ingredient. Greater importance is given to the Holy Name than to any other process of devotional service. In fact, without being sufficiently established in purely chanting the Holy Name, some processes, like līlā-smaraṇam (remembering the līlās of the Lord) may even be injurious to our spiritual development.
baḍa-i kaṭhina tattva kṛṣṇa-kathā haya
āpāta camaka-prada jaṭilārtha-maya
The philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very perplexing. At first it seems startling and full of complex details.
nāmi hate tāṅra nāma adhika karuṇa
āśraya laile tattva karena jñāpana
The Holy Name is more compassionate than the Lord of the Name Himself. If one takes shelter of the Name, then it unravels all these philosophical complexities.
Taking shelter of the chanting of the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa presupposes one having taken shelter of the guru (guru-pāda-āśraya) and having received hari-nāma-dīkṣā from him. One must chant the Holy Name with firm faith in the spiritual master and then all the complexities of the Kṛṣṇa conscious philosophy will automatically be revealed.
yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā-deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ
“Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord (His Holy Name which is non-different from Him) and the spiritual master are all the imports (complexities) of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.” (Svetāśvatara Upaniṣad, 6.38)
nitya-praypjana modera kṛṣṇa-prema-dhana
tāhā anubhave kāma bādhe sarva-kṣaṇa
The treasure of love for Kṛṣṇa is the eternal goal of our lives. At every moment, personal desires interfere with our realizing it.
nāmāśraye sei bādhā haya apanita
kṛṣṇa-prema-rājye vāsa haya abhīpsita
By taking shelter of the Holy Name, all these obstacles are removed and we can obtain the fulfilment of our true desire, to dwell in the realm of pure love of Kṛṣṇa.
Śrī Caitanyadeva has stated that the fifth goal of life is love of Kṛṣṇa, prema pumārtha mahān. Nothing else should be the goal of one’s life. Sense gratification and the cultivation of all things not actually related to Kṛṣṇa’s service such as astrology, palmistry, reiki, gemmology, crystal worship, UFO abductions, conspiracy theories, women’s liberation, channeling, past life regressions, I-ching, haṭha-yoga, boji-stones, colonics, blue-green algae diets, grape fasts, self-urine therapy, hollow-earth theories, pyramids, ouija boards, pendulums, exorcism, numerology, tarot cards, copper-plate bābās, tantric practices, Machiavellian politics, Coveyian management systems, Nostradamus, new age prophecies and self-proclaimed ācārya-ships are actually a waste of time because they do not directly foster love of Kṛṣṇa. If we want love of Kṛṣṇa, then we should take to chanting the Holy Name as our life’s occupation. Unfortunately, the above mentioned non-Kṛṣṇa related topics have become very popular among many so-called Vaiṣṇavas including some sannyāsīs and even gurus.
In the time of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and also during the time of our Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda there was no other focus for their disciples other than chanting the Holy Name and distributing the chanting of the Holy Name to the fallen souls. Now in the absence of these great personalities many ‘isms,’ false doctrines and non-Kṛṣṇa conscious practices have all but consumed a major section of the western Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. If the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement wants to truly get back on track, then it would be advisable for its members to take up again the Holy Name as the central focus and abandon all activities not recommended in śāstra by the previous ācāryas.
It is especially disheartening to see senior disciples and sannyāsīs of Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda traveling around the world delivering seminars on astrology, rekhi, UFOs, channelling and other non-Kṛṣṇa conscious topics. The fact of the matter is that the dovetailing process of our material propensities and material desires is slowly but surely suffocating the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement. Due to extreme attachment to these non-Kṛṣṇa activities it is difficult these days to find the association of devotees who are prepared to make the necessary self-sacrifices to improve this movement.
e jagate keha nahe anurāga-pātra
athavā virāga-pātra nahe aṇumātra
In this world no one is the special object of my affection, nor do I have the slightest hostility towards anyone.
The spiritual master (sad–guru) is not partial to a particular disciple. The spiritual master is an ocean of mercy and according to what degree a disciple surrenders at his lotus feet the spiritual master will award him Kṛṣṇa consciousness accordingly. There is no question of partiality on the part of the spiritual master.
Some disciples are of the opinion that a physical proximity with the spiritual master is what makes one dear to the spiritual master. Such foolish disciples do not know that it is by following the vāṇī (instruction) of the guru that one obtains his divine grace. Sometimes the disciple thinks foolishly that just by serving the institution of the spiritual master, even though neglecting his instructions, that all perfection will be achieved. They sometimes say, “Just stay in the boat —it does not matter how bad things are— if you just stay in the institution you are going back to Godhead.” However, such “boat people” may be in for a rude awakening at the end of life. Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī has the following to say in this regard:
“If we wish to show our love and faith for our spiritual master, it will be by following these teachings. However, rather than giving full attention to the desires of the spiritual master, we may focus on serving his body or the extensions of his body represented by temples and āśramas. If we do so, we will never be free of the pitfall of seeing the guru in purely human terms (martyasād-dhīḥ). The Lord can only be seen through the path of transcendental sound (śrutekṣita-pathaḥ) and the spiritual master, being His manifest representative, is also perceptible through divine sound vibrations.” (Of Love and Separation, pp. 91)
sakala vyavasthā ethā kṣana-sthāyi haya
ethā-kāra lābhālābha vicārāha naya
Whatever arrangements we make in this world are momentary. There is no need to waste time thinking about gain or loss here.
sabākāra labhya sei eka prayojana
śrī-kṛṣṇa-padāravinde prema mahādhana
The only thing anyone should strive for is the one supreme goal of life. That is the treasure of love for Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet.
tad-uddeśya sabe mili hao yatnavān
eka-dhyāna eka-jñāna hao eka-tāna
So, join together all of you and strive for this goal. Work together harmoniously, with a single thing in mind and a single understanding.
Sādhu-saṅga is our strength. We must keep the association of saintly persons who are advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If such association is not readily available, then the śāstra is our next best friend. Sometimes devotees do not understand how one can have a śīkṣā-guru (instructing guru) outside the formal institution of his spiritual master. Such disciples do not understand that the guru-tattva principle does not come under the sway of any institutional consideration or society consciousness. Kṛṣṇa is independent of any social consideration and He sends His representative to save the fallen souls as He sees fit. Kṛṣṇa is not under the power of our voting committees.
There are some people who think that the guru (Kṛṣṇa’s representative) must appear in India, in a particular society, or in a brāhmaṇa family, but such persons are victims of a poor fund of knowledge. Such persons do not know that birth in India, belonging to a particular society, or being born in a brāhmaṇa family are all material designations. Such has no jurisdiction in the guru-tattva.
It is also commonly misunderstood how one can simultaneously have love for his dīkṣā-guru and also for his śīkṣā-guru. Love is poorly understood these days as affection for one’s guru and hatred for all others. If someone says he has love for his guru but cannot see the representation of Kṛṣṇa in any others (and thus no love for them) then it becomes doubtful if such a person actually has a guru other than in name only. For as it is said, vande ‘ham śrī-guroḥ śrī-yuta–pada-kamalam śrī-gurun vaiṣṇavams ca. The principle of guru is śrī-guroḥ and śrī-gurun. It is both singular and plural. There is no difference between one’s dīkṣā-guru and śīkṣā-guru for both have been declared as equal manifestations of Kṛṣṇa and love for both is appropriate. The dīkṣā-guru represents Madana-mohana and the śīkṣā-guru represents Govinda-deva. One should not discriminate between the two, otherwise one makes an offense. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, Ch. 1)
ekoddeśya aikatāne avasthita hao
mūlāśraya-vigraha-sevāya adhikāra lao
Working together with the same purpose, you will become qualified for the service of Rādhārāṇī, the original reservoir of love for Kṛṣṇa.
If we cannot cooperate with the Vaiṣṇavas in this life, then what chance will we have to cooperate with them in the spiritual world of eternal pastimes? The inability to cooperate with the Vaiṣṇavas and especially with the senior Vaiṣṇavas is actually a manifestation of one’s envious nature due to association with the objects of sense gratification.
To achieve harmony and cooperation among the Vaiṣṇavas it is essential that one gives up all types of material sense gratification, desire for name, fame and power, and humbly takes up the mood of vaiṣṇava-sevā (service to the Vaiṣṇavas). However, sometimes envious persons themselves take up the responsibility of uniting the Vaiṣṇavas, but their goal is actually to lord it over (to control) the Vaiṣṇava community, not to serve them. Seeing through the ill motives of these envious persons the advanced Vaiṣṇavas never cooperate with such diabolical schemes.
rūpānuga-cintā-srota hok pravāhita
tā hate svātantrya kabhu nahe saṁīhita
May the stream of ideas promoted by Rūpa Gosvāmī and his followers ever flow. We must never try to be independent of his doctrine.
sapta-jihva nāma-saṅkīrtana-yajña prati
kakhano virāga jena nā haya arati
May we never become indifferent or disinterested in the sacrifice of the Holy Name with its fire of seven flames.
ekāntānurāga tāhe thāke vardhamāna
tabe ta sarvārtha-siddhi pūrṇa manaskāma
In the performance of saṅkīrtana, if your single-minded devotion goes on increasing, then all your desires will be fulfilled and all your goals achieved.
śrī-rūpānugā janera pāda-padma dhara
ekānta bhāvete tāṅdera ānugatya kara
Take hold of the feet of the followers of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and follow them with exclusive commitment.
nirbhaye pracāra kara sarva-siddhi jāhe
Preach the message of Śrī Rūpa and Raghunātha fearlessly and with great enthusiasm. Through this preaching, you will attain all perfection.
The highest ideal of the Gauḍīya sampradāya is found in its entirety in the message of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and it is fully exemplified in the aspirations of Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī. Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī is taken to be the disciple of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī. What Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī has taught found its fullest expression in the heart of Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī (our prayojana–ācārya) who has shown us the highest aspiration, rādhā-dāsyam. Rādhā-dāsyam or rādhā–pāda-sevā, service in the camp of Śrī Rādhā is the highest aspiration or achievement of a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava.
As the teacher Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī was himself the abode of ecstatic love of Kṛṣṇa, yet we will want to see what effect his teaching had in his disciple. It was found to have had its fullest effect in Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī, who in the climax of his spiritual aspiration prayed as follows:
kālo mayātigamitaḥ kila sāmprataṁ hi
tvaṁ cet kṛpāmayi vidhāsyasi naiva kiṁ me
prāṇair vrajema ca varoru bakarināpi
“With that hope I am somehow passing my days, flagging my days, dragging my life through these tedious times only for that hope. That hope is sustaining me, the nectarine-ocean of hope is attracting me and sustaining me. Somehow I am dragging my days to my only safety. Otherwise, I have lost the direct association of Mahāprabhu, Svarūpa Dāmodara and so many other great souls, and still I am living. Why? I have a particular ray of hope. And the prospect and quality of my hope is very great and high. But my patience has reached its end. I can’t endure it any longer. I can’t wait. I am finished. I can’t wait any more. At this moment if you do not show your grace to me, I am finished. I shall lose the chance forever. I shall have no desire to continue my life. It will all be useless. Without Your grace, I can’t stand to live another moment. And Vrndāvana, which is even dearer to me than my life itself —I am disgusted with it. It is painful; it is always pinching me. What to speak of anything else, I am even disgusted with Kṛṣṇa. It is shameful to utter such words, but I can have no love even for Kṛṣṇa, until and unless you take me up within your confidential camp of service. Such a charm I have come for. I have seen the clue of such a charm within the service of your camp. Without that, everything is tasteless to me. And I can’t maintain my existence even in Vṛndāvana. And even Kṛṣṇa, what to speak of others, has no charm for me.” (translation by Śrīla B. R. Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī, Śrī Guru and His Grace, p. 150)
As we find in Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī we should expect to find the efficacy of the teaching of a particular ācārya in at least one of his disciples if not more. But as it so happens, after the disappearance of a great ācārya there are always those who cannot recognize the advanced Vaiṣṇavas and thus conclude that the books of the previous ācārya are all that is necessary. Their assumption is that one need not accept initiation from a living guru, but one can achieve the perfection of life just by reading books and serving in the temple or āśrama of the previous ācārya (founder-ācārya).
When Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura disappeared from this mortal world a certain section of his admirers proclaimed that since the Ṭhākura had so extensively written on the topic of Kṛṣṇa consciousness that it was not necessary to accept a living representative in the line of Bhaktivinoda. To this Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura remarked that if one does not take shelter under the guidance of a true follower of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda then the attempts to understand him simply through reading books and singing songs will be baffled.
Again after the disappearance of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura a group of devotees proposed the same idea. Since Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had written and preached so extensively on the topic of Kṛṣṇa consciousness what need was there for persons to initiate and carry on the disciplic succession in that way. Their reasoning was that just by reading the books of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura everything was there. This conception however was not given space to grow by the advanced disciples of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, who in turn continued to carry on the disciplic succession.
Then again after the disappearance of our Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, the same situation has occurred. A certain section of his disciples are convinced that no further succession of gurus is necessary. Convinced by seeing the many who tried to become gurus fall down, these disciples advocate an ‘ism’ known as Ṛtvik.
Once when discussing the Ṛtvikism with Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja he remarked that the Ṛtvik conception was “the death of the sampradāya.” The Ṛtvik conception however has not so easily been dispensed with as in previous times. Unfortunately, it seems that the Ṛtvik conception has caught hold of the very life force of our guru’s formal institution (ISKCON). In the absence of senior Vaiṣṇavas and having rejected any available senior association outside of the formal society, its members now toggle between the Ṛtvik conception on one hand and the covered Ṛtvik system (GBC as the ultimate authority) on the other. The Ṛtvik conception means Prabhupāda takes you back to Godhead and the covered Ṛtvik conception means the GBC is the body of Prabhupāda and the institution takes you back to Godhead. Unfortunately, both these concepts are mental concoctions.
The institution of our Guru Mahārāja at present seems to be bereft of a proper understanding of the guru-tattva. If there is a correct understanding there somewhere within its members, then it certainly hesitates to raise its head for fear of excommunication or even decapitation.
We do not mean to alarm our readers or to offend anyone, but the fact of the matter is that devotees should remember with firm faith the words of their parama-guru, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura as given in his last days. One should endeavour to carry on the disciplic succession as he envisioned it.
rūpānugā-cintā-srota hok pravāhita
tā hate svātantrya kabhu nahe samīhita
May the stream of ideas promoted by Rūpa Gosvāmī and his followers ever flow. We must never try to be independent of his doctrine.
Śrī Caitanya Sārasvata paramparā ki jaya!
More Articles by Swami B.G. Narasingha
Dīkṣā Names and Feelings of the Heart
“Dīkṣa Names and Feelings of the Heart” was written by Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja in January 1998 for VNN. Narasiṅgha Mahārāja answers the question that many ask in regards to śikṣā-gurus and “name changes” amongst previously initated devotees.
Sādhu Saṅga’ is an unfinished article written by Swami B.G. Narasingha in 1998. Here, Swami Narasingha explains the prime necessity of associating with advanced sādhus in order to make advancement.
Dāsa Gosvāmī and the Unique Position of Govardhana
“Dāsa Gosvāmī and the Unique Position of Govardhana” is based upon a class by Śrīla Narasiṅgha Mahārāja that he gave in Vṛndāvana at Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple on 18th October 2009, on the occasion of Śrī Govardhana Pūjā.