Part Three – The Practice of Pure Devotional Service, Chapter 15 – Fools Rush in Where Angels Fear to Tread
“Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, preached exclusively this mādhurya-rasa, but with great precaution. He had to spare, in his words, ‘gallons of blood’ to establish what is not that mādhurya-rasa.”
Devotee: In Śrī Brahma-saṁhita it is described that Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are seated on a divine throne, and the whorl of the lotus flower upon which They are seated is described as a hexagonal figure. What is the meaning of this hexagonal figure?
ŚrĪla Śrīdhara Mahārāja: I am sorry, but we are not to enter into the discussion of such higher and subtle position of the līlā of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. That is not to be brought into public, and that is the distinction between the Gauḍīya Maṭha and the sahajiyā section. The sahajiyās are trying to imitate all this things, but we have no faith in imitation. The higher līlā will come in an individual case, and it will awaken in an irresistible way. When the program of the sādhana stage is finished it will come automatically, spontaneously. We are believers in that, and not to know the form already and then we will reach there—that is not the policy accepted by Guru Mahārāja, Prabhupāda: pūjāla rāga-paṭha gaurava-baṅge.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura also said, “Stick to the rulings of the class you are fit for, then you will see automatically.”
Strictly stick to gaura-līlā, Mahāprabhu, and you will automatically find within your heart that Rādhā-rasa-sudhānidhi is flowing. Don’t attempt directly to have it. It will come automatically, spontaneously. Not intellectually you shall approach that, for that will give you a bad prejudice. Not only that, but it will be harmful prejudice and you will have to expend more energy to do away with that layer of misunderstanding. So our Śrīla Prabhupāda did not allow these things. Do your duty in your plane, according to what you deserve, and that will come naturally. That is his instruction all through, not only temporarily, but all through. Don’t do like that, for then you will get Māyā instead of Yogamāyā.
He knows it fully well, She knows it fully well, when you are to be taken into the confidential area, and that cannot be acquired by any other thing but His sweet will—the flow of Her sweet will, or His sweet will. Try to have the natural thing, not anything of imitation or any reflection. Reflection and shadow, these two kinds of misconception may come there. Reflection is more dangerous.
In hari–nāma also it has been stated like that. On our way that sort of temptation may come, but we must not think that everything will come within the fist of our intellect.
acintyāḥ khalu ye bhāvā na tāṁs tarkeṇa yojayet
That which is inconceivable, don’t take it under the jurisdiction of reason. When it will be extended to you, you will be astounded only to find a peep into that. Na tāṁs tarkeṇa yojayet: don’t try to drag that into the zone of reason. This is autocratic in its nature. It may come in one shape to you, it may go in another shape to another gentleman. It is so expansive and so free in its nature. It is infinite. Rather, the Infinite is the base of those pastimes. Always prepare yourself. Hanker. But don’t make it an object of your experience.
When Mahāprabhu talked about the higher līlās it was as if He was in a trance. As if in a trance He gave a description of His wonderful experience of kṛṣṇa-līlā. Several times we find that sort of deep līlā—the higher līlā of Kṛṣṇa being related by Mahāprabhu Himself—the govardhana–līlā and the Jalakeli-līlā when He jumped unconcious into the ocean and for hours was carried by the waves of the sea to Cakra-tīrtha from Svargadvāra. The Jalakeli of Kṛṣṇa, he described how it is. Also at Chaṭaka-parvata—there is no end to His līlā. When His body was transformed like a pumpkin, then also He described a līlā, but the nature of that description was not any book produced thing. It cannot be taken into black and white. It is such a thing. So we receive caution often, that: “Don’t try. It will come automatically. Go on with the program that is given by the śāstra and the guru and it will be. If you have such a possibility of fortune then it will come to you. It is not a natural experience that can be given to this and that. It is not to be tackled in such a way.”
Yathā yathā gaura-padāravinde—engage your full attention in gaura-līlā and that will come automatically within you. From the indirect way it will come to you from the higher domain. When it will be pleased it will come down for some time to give you experience, and you will simply be astonished, “What is this!” Then even when gone, withdrawn, you will have nothing to lament. A living thing. Try to come to get the whole. We cannot make it our object. Such higher thing. Such higher thing.
Even it is very hard to get an ordinary man’s conduct with his intimate friends, and so it is with the līlā of the Supreme Lord. How can we dare to enter into that, and especially publicly. It is not possible. Externally we can try to give some description of the outer possibilities, but not the actual thing. We won’t venture to enter there.
Question: Can they draw something general, like the lotus flower?
Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja: A lotus flower is representing the idea of beauty, softness, and such things. And different petals representing different platforms of rasam. In such a way we can take it—beauty, softness. No mundane ideas should be drawn there only distant similarity. But categorical difference should always be there.
Even we are not allowed by our master to read the books where They are described: Govinda–līlāmṛtam, even Stava-kusumāñjali, even Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi. He did not allow us to study and to discuss it. Rather, he would be very much disturbed, disturbed if he heard that someone is interfering with the higher līlās in those books. He did not like it.
Duṣṭa phala karibe arjjana—Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura gives warning that you will get only a bad result if you venture to cross the line, a bad effect will come to you. Aparādha. From the lower position, anartha, the steps are shown. Śraddhā, sādhu-saṅga, śravana, kīrtana, then anartha-nivṛtti—the undesirable things will vanish altogether. Then ruci, then asakti, then bhāva-bhakti—the sprout of real devotion. Then prema-bhakti, and sneha, māna, praṇāya, rāga, anurāga, bhāva, mahā-bhāva. By such steps we are to approach there.
Once Prabhupāda remarked, though how you will take it I do not know; one gentleman, of course he was a senior, wanted to discuss these things with Prabhupāda. He laid much stress on that, and ultimately he left the association of Prabhupāda and lived a secluded life. Previously he did much service to the mission, that gentleman. Prabhupāda remarked, ”Oh, he has two lives. He is married with Kṛṣṇa and she has got a child.” Such remark was there that he was a man, but taking himself a gopī he wanted to culture about the life of the gopīs—intimate connection of Kṛṣṇa and gopīs. In this way he wanted intensely, but Prabhupāda remarked in that way: “Oh, he has turned into a lady, a gopī, and after coming in contact with Kṛṣṇa she produced a child!”
Another time, the Guru Mahārāja of Prabhupāda, Śrīla Gaura Kiśora Bābājī, was in a hut near the Ganges. Another disciple of Prabhupāda, leaving Prabhupāda went to imitate Prabhupāda’s Guru-deva, Gaura Kiśora Bābājī, and constructed a tiny hut nearby and imitated his bhajana, harināma and the discussion of Narottama Ṭhākura—all this things—and observed strict vairāgyam in his physical life. Gaura Kiśora Bābājī remarked one day that only by entering a labour room and imitating some pain of giving birth to a child, a child will not come simply by that imitation of the sound. Many important previous events are necessary, then a child will come. Only imitation will not give birth to a child. Such was his remark to that gentleman.
So, śuddha-sattva, pure goodness. You must come in connection with what is known as śuddha-sattva first. Viśuddha-sattva, the nirguṇa world. Śuddha-sattva means nirguṇa. You must come in connection with nirguṇa, then only may you try to approach the subtle happenings or events there.
So, not to satisfy curiosity. “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” With this spirit we must approach the whole thing. At the same time, we may not be, by God’s grace, a disbeliever by considering, “I shall judge the whole thing to the last details, then I shall accept what you say.”
There are many things below, but the charm and reasonableness of the higher plane, that is enough to convince a person to come this side, and these high līlās should be left high above your head. Very cautiously we are to handle all this līlā, especially mādhurya-līlā.
Just the other day I was thinking, about a year after joining the Mission, Prabhupāda arranged for the full Kārttika month to preach in Vṛndāvana. He asked the Mahārāja, Bhāratī Mahārāja at that time, to explain the Seventh Canto of ŚrīmadBhāgavatam: the story of Prahlāda, not the story of Kṛṣṇa, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Yaśoda or anything of Vṛndāvana, but, “Preach śuddha-bhakti of Prahlāda first. They are ripe in sahajiyā. Just try to make them understand: ‘Enter the plane of bhakti; what to speak of kṛṣṇa-līlā, that is far, far above.’”
So, in Vṛndāvana the people rather wonder, “What is this? They are explaining Bhāgavatam; but leaving the Tenth Canto they are explaining the Seventh Canto, the Prahlāda līlā, the lower portion of bhakti. That is wonderful and strange.”
Again, I found later on that Śrīla Prabhupāda himself gave a lecture between Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa. There is a boundary line between the two. There he used to speak for a few days. The Upadeśāmṛtam of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī was read by him and explained. He did not explain about Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, nor about Kṛṣṇa, but about that Upadeśāmṛtam—the basis. His attention was always towards the basis, and the fruit will come of itself: “Pour water onto the root; pour water onto the root, and the fruit will come up itself.”
He himself explained this while sitting in the middle between Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa. He explained not only Bhāgavatam, but Upadeśāmṛtam. Upadeśāmṛtam is the substance of Mahāprabhu and the language of Rūpa Gosvāmī.
vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ jihvā-vegam udaropaṣtha-vegam etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ sarvām apīmāṁ pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt
And the last śloka:
kṛṣṇasyoccaiḥ praṇaya-vasatiḥ preyasībhyo’pi rādhā kuṇdaṁ cāsyā munibhir abhitas tādṛg eva vyadhāyi yat preṣṭair apy alam asulabhaṁ kiṁ punar bhakti-bhājāṁ tat premedaṁ sakṛd api saraḥ snātur āviṣkaroti
These topics were explained by Śrīla Prabhupāda and not even anything of Govinda-līlāmṛtam or Viśvanātha Cakravartī’s Śrī Kṛṣṇa Bhāvanāmṛta—these things were left. So, our training was in this line.
Pūjāla rāga-paṭha gaurava bhaṅge—that is always upon our head, that the prospect of our life’s future, life after life, cannot be finished. We shall rather foster the hope, the pure hope that we may be taken in one day in that camp. With this idea.
Question: Sometimes in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī makes reference to Govinda-līlāmṛtam, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi and other such confidential selected works. How are we to take that?
ŚrĪla Śrīdhara Mahārāja: There are three chapters of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta that we were generally not allowed to enter into, including the discussions with Rāmānanda Rāya, to a certain extent. Where the līlā portion of Rādhā-Govinda is mentioned, we had no entrance into that līlā. Of course when pārāyaṇa (consecutive chanting of the whole book) is going on, we go on reading but without giving any particular attention to the līlā of highest order of rāga. That was barred: “Don’t try to come into details there. That will come automatically when the time will be. Do not make it a discussion of the public. Do not take it in the public eye.”
So much so, that the following incident happened in Vṛndāvana. Prabhupāda had a friend there from his childhood, an attorney, who came to see him, so Prabhupāda went to give a return visit to this friend from his boyhood. Śrīpad Paramahaṁsa Mahārāja was with Prabhupāda and they went to give the return visit. They were told, “He is upstairs.” They went there and saw that a gosvāmī was explaining the rāsa-līlā section of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Prabhupāda just bowed down his head and came away. Immediately he came away. Then his friend also came down, leaving that rāsa-līlā discussion, and said, “Yes, the rāsa-līlā explanation is going on, but you did not take your seat at all. You just bowed down your head and came down. What is the matter?”
Śrīla Prabhupāda replied, “Our guru’s order is such that, ‘If you attend rāsa-līlā explanation you will commit offense.’ That will be an offense to attend rāsa-līlā explanation, so I had to come back. This is my guru’s order. To attend rāsa-līlā explanation is aparādha.”
So, for us, such strict behaviour he has shown. And we also do that, especially myself. At so many other places they show the rāsa-līlā with dolls, but I never do that. Following what is true to my understanding of my Gurudeva’s will and his words, I do not make any show of jhulana–līlā or rāsa-līlā or anything of that type. I find in my heart that this is not desirable to my Guru Mahārāja. But in so many maṭhas I see at present, I hear also, that they are doing that, but I strictly abstain from that sort of showing. The jhulana–līlā, the rāsa-līla. That is too high for us, I considered. I must be true to my hearing of the words of my Gurudeva if I want my realisation and not any position: the position of some sort of popularity. To attract people by such show, and to make money, or to make a favourable field for preaching, they may do like that, but I do not do. I do not want popularity nor any position of a higher ācārya. I am a student.
Still I am a student. I consider myself to be student. A faithful student. What I heard from my Gurudeva, I try my best to stick there, to keep my position there as I heard from him. I do not want to mutilate that in any way to suit to my purpose. I try not to do that. Of course for big propaganda they may take different ways as they think. They are now free. But I am not a member to do so—to go on in such way. I try.
When Prabhupāda offered me to go to the West, I replied simply that I did not consider myself fit to go to the West, “I will not be able to show success there.” I mentioned two defects. Then some sannyāsīns showed much reverence to me, “What is this? So many persons wish this opportunity. You are prepared to lose this chance? You neglect to take advantage of such a position, that you will be a world preacher. Do you have no hankering for that?”
I replied, “Yes, Mahārāja, I have no hankering to have such a position. My only humble ambition is that I may be reckoned as a sincere devotee of Mahāprabhu, Śrī Caitanyadeva. No other ambition I have in my mind such as to become a world preacher and so on. “
In my nature I am such. I want truth, and hope and crave for the mercy of the Vaiṣṇavas and you all, that I may not have that ambition, but to be the humblest, the most humble servant of the Lord, that I may not be misguided.
I may engage myself in the lowest form of service. Tad Dāsa-Dāsa-dāsānaṁ Dāsatvaṁ dehiprabho. My faith may be so firm and may be of such quality that the least offer of His service, of divine service, may satisfy me. I may not get the chance there in the higher officer class. With my lowest connection with the divinity I may go on satisfied with my life.
Mahāprabhu says, “Just consider myself a speck of dust at Your feet, Kṛṣṇa.”
“O Nandanandana, son of King Nanda, although I am Your eternal servitor, I have fallen into the terrible ocean of material existence due to the fructification of my own deeds (karma). Please graciously consider me to be a particle of dust at Your lotus feet.”
That may be our guidance, “Consider me to be one of the specks of dust that are at Your feet.” That is too much! Our faith should come to such a grade in quality that we may be satisfied to become a speck of dust at His feet. Then by His sweet will, anything may happen. But our humble aim should be to have even the least connection of the divinity real. Not a concocted Kṛṣṇa.
Pūjāla rāga-paṭha gaurava-bhaṅge—very sweet. The rāga-patha is on the head. We are servants of the rāga-patha. We are in vidhi-mārga, under śāstrika rule. We must live and move under śāstrika rule, and always keep the rāga-patha upon our head.
Once an incident happened while our Śrīla Prabhupāda was at Rādhā-kuṇḍa. A pāṇḍā in his talk made a side remark that, “We are brāhmaṇas in Vraja. We can bless Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī.”
Prabhupāda was perturbed by such a haughty remark, “Dāsa Gosvāmī is our highest ācārya in our camp, in the Gauḍīya Camp. And that fellow, he says that he is able to bless Dāsa Gosvāmī, and I am to hear that?”
He stopped taking food, and remarked, “If I was an ordinary bābājī I would not care. I would leave the place. But I am running with a motor car here as an ācārya. I have responsibility. I am moving here in the pose of an ācārya that I shall protect the sampradāya. I shall brush the dust of undesirability from the sampradāya. How can I tolerate such a remark against my guru?”
He left his food: “Until any pratīkāra (any suitable objection and correction, cure) is given to me, I won’t take any food. I cannot take any food.”
I think I did something to give vent to the feeling of my Gurudeva today! I did something today to clarify his position. Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava-bhaṅge—this is enough.
Tad Dāsa-Dāsa-dāsānāṁ Dāsatvaṁ dehi me prabho…this is not a figurative thing, this is not mere poetry, Mahāprabhu says:
nāhaṁ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śudro nāhaṁ varṇī na ca gṛha-patir no vana-stho yatir vā kintu prodyan-nikhila-paramānanda-pūrnāmṛtābdher gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ
“I am not a priest, a king, a merchant, or a labourer (brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra); nor am I a student, a householder, a retired householder, or a mendicant (brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, sannyāsī). I identify myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of the gopīs, who is the personification of the fully expanded (eternally self-revealing) nectarean ocean that brims with the totality of divine ecstasy.”
This is not only an ornamental thing. It is reality. This is reality. To feel ourselves to be actually mean, is really to become eligible for the higher service. So much selflessness, so much self-abnegation is necessary for a unit here of the lowest order to enter into that domain. So much self-abnegation is necessary, then we can come into that plane. There is a plane of undercurrent, an undercurrent plane. and if we really want to contact with that, we shall have to manifest the finest of the fine in ourselves, and with no demand. In this negative way we are to transform ourselves, then we can have a touch of that plane where we can go.
The least tinge of exploiting, any speck of the ambitions life, will not take us there—that is another thing: pratiṣṭhā. Pratiṣṭhā is self-establishing, to be stable, to be immortal, to be invincible—it is not self-giving, but it is the self-establishing tendency: “I must stay. I must live.” But, if necessary I must die for the interest of Kṛṣṇa.
mārobi rākhobi – yo icchā tohārā nitya-dāsa prati tuwā adhikārā
“Slay me or protect me as You wish, for You are the master of Your eternal servant.”
A suicidal soldier! For the cause of the country, if necessary I must die. I must efface myself. I may be effaced. If it is necessary, my very existence may be effaced for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa.
“My very existence may be effaced if it is necessary.” Such temperament, such selflessness, of such degree is necessary to find that plane. So much subtleness. Let us be blessed by Prabhupāda Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. All glory to Guru and Gaurāṅga. All glory to Guru and Gaurāṅga!
(To the devotees gathered there) You are helping me to take out from my inner heart so many beautiful and so many valuable things. It is through your help that these old memories are coming again fresh to me. I am forced to take out those things of the inner nature of my previous life which I got from my Gurudeva as wealth. Again I have the chance of seeing that treasury. I am given the opportunity by this recapitulation of what I heard from the divine feet of Gurudeva.
This is our education, what I got from the divine feet of Gurudeva. I just sincerely put it to you all. It is such.
Pūjāla rāga-paṭha gaurava-bhaṅge—He instructed that we must not go to live in Rādhā-kuṇḍa. One day, near Lalitā-kuṇḍa, the Svānanda Sukhanda Kuñja is there, and there is a single-story building. He said, “A second story is necessary, but I will not be able to live there.”
I asked, “If you will not live on the first floor, who will live there? What is the necessity of further construction?”
“No. You don’t know. Better persons will live there: Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Gaura Kiśora Bābājī Mahārāja. They will live there, and we shall stay on the ground floor and we shall serve them.”
Again he said, “I shall live in Govardhana. Rādhā-kuṇḍa is the highest place—the place of our Guru Mahārāja, our Gurudevas. They will live here in closer connection with līlā, but we are not fit to live there. We shall live in Govardhana, just a little far away. Because we shall have to come and serve our Gurudeva, we must be near, but we must not live in closer connection with them. We are not fit.”
Pūjāla rāga-paṭha gaurava bhaṅge—The whole tenor of his life was such: “That is high, high. And from below we are to honour that.” We are to establish in the whole world this sort of posing: the proper regard of that higher līlā: “That is too high.”
One day in Allahabad—perhaps it was that very year Śrīpāda Swami Mahārāja was initiated—while speaking in a park Śrīla Sarasvatī Prabhupāda said, “I am out to give a challenge to fight with any person to show that the highest position is occupied by my Gurudeva, by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and by Mahāprabhu. Let anyone come to fight with me to decide. I am ready. I am ready to give that challenge to anyone and everyone. Let them come to fight with me. I am ready to establish the throne in the highest place—my Gurudeva.”
Pūjāla rāga-paṭha gaurava bhaṅge. “Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, preached exclusively this mādhurya-rasa, but with great precaution. What is not that thing, he used perhaps 90% of his energy to point out the negative side—“This is not mādhurya-rasa”—and clear away the negative side. He had to spare, in his words, ‘gallons of blood’ to establish what is not that mādhurya-rasa.”
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