Part Two – The Practice of Pure Devotional Service, Chapter 10 – Siddha Deha Revealed
“First they must cross the Virajā, Brahman, and even Vaikuṇṭha conceptions before they can reach Goloka Vṛndāvana. But they are not ready to pay the price of surrender and purification.”
Devotee: There is a book entitled Why Did Caitanya Mahāprabhu Come and What Did He Come to Give? Could you kindly comment on this book in light of our paramparā system.
Narasingha Mahārāja: The book and the author which you have mentioned both belong to the imitationist school, siddha-prāṇali. Their thinking will not be of any assistance or help to those devotees actually desiring to make advancement on the path of rāgānuga-bhakti, spontaneous love of Kṛṣṇa.
Question: The author strongly supports his statements and conclusions with many scriptural references from the bhakti school and extolls rāgānuga-bhakti as the highest path of devotion, so how can it not be helpful for our progress? What is the fault in it?
Answer: Firstly, the whole of the imitationist school has been disqualified in their attempt, because they do not want to pay the price which Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has insisted upon. Mahāprabhu has said,
upajiyā bāḍe latā brahmāṇḍa bhedi yāya virajā brahma-loka bhedi paravyoma pāya tabe yāya tad upari goloka vṛndāvana kṛṣṇa-caraṇa-kalpavṛkṣe kare ārohaṇa
“The creeper of devotion is born, and grows to pierce the wall of the universe. It crosses the Virajā river and the Brahman plane, and reaches to the Vaikuṇṭha plane. Then it grows further up to Goloka Vṛndāvana, finally reaching to embrace the wish yielding tree of Kṛṣṇa’s Lotus Feet.” (C.c. Madhya 19.153,4)
The imitationists ignore this instruction of Mahāprabhu and take the whole process very cheaply. From the brahmaṇḍa, the physical and mental plane, the imitators speculate to try and enter Goloka Vṛndāvana. They do not care to purify themselves or elevate themselves beyond the scope of matter. First they must cross the Virajā, Brahman, and even Vaikuṇṭha conceptions before they can reach Goloka Vṛndāvana. But they are not ready to pay the price of surrender and purification first. In the words of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, “The imitators want the fruits without taking the trouble to climb the tree, so what sort of fruits can be expected. Their fruits will be ruined or rotten.” Without proper progress, as stated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, their so-called progress is imaginary—a sort of self-deception. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has written a poem, Prākṛta-rasa Śata-dūṣiṇī, in which he has given a hundred defects in the imitationists conception. Their defects are numerous, but Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has listed only one hundred. Namely he says that the imitators want everything cheaply.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s disciples such as Rūpa, Sanātana and Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī after receiving direct instruction from Him were instructed to write many books outlining the progressive steps toward rāgānuga-bhakti. Thus in their writings Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī has established sambandha-jñāna, the process of re-establishing our relationship with Kṛṣṇa, and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has given us the directions by which one actually engages in a service relationship with Kṛṣṇa and he also gives us the knowledge of rasa or intimate mellows of divine love reciprocation, abhidheya-tattva. Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī, our prayojana-tattva-ācārya—the topmost example of perfection in the Caitanya school, has given us the concept of the highest aspiration of service—the maid servants service to Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. However, eliminating Rūpa and Sanātana, the imitators try to jump to the stage of Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī by the agency of the mind. The imitators factually misunderstand the position and instructions of the exalted devotees and by the process of imitation they unfortunately develop a hellish mentality.
Under the guidance of a so-called guru the imitators receive some mantra and in a secluded place they go on mentally identifying themselves with the name of a particular sakhī of kṛṣṇa-līlā, her age, her duty, her place of service, her dress and so on. They try to imitate the highest plane of spiritual reality from the lowest plane of material existence. In this way, however, real bhajana cannot be effected. We do not see that any of the Six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana or any of the previous ācāryas who have come to represent Śri Caitanya Mahāprabhu, engaged in this process of imitation anytime in their career. Actually we see just the opposite. Even though many of our previous ācāryas were nitya-siddha, or eternally perfected souls who descended to this world on the order of Kṛṣṇa, we see that they practised self-forgetfulness to the extreme degree. Although they were gopīs in kṛṣṇa-līlā they did not wander about Vṛndāvana meditating on their form and identity as a gopī. They completely forgot their spiritual identity and cultivated the feelings of intense separation, vipralambha. Not only our ācāryas but Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself also was in a state of self-forgetfulness and whenever anyone reminded Him of His real identity He closed His ears and ran away. These are vivid examples which the imitators ignore or avoid by some word jugglery.
In the words of Śrīla Gaura Kiśora Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, “The imitator is like a woman who enters the maternity ward and simply by producing the sounds of labour thinks that she can produce a child. Many things are required before that.” In other words, one must first become qualified by transcending all lower stages of material and spiritual existence before one can enter the plane where one’s eternal form and intimate relationship with Kṛṣṇa are revealed. This means that one must first transcend the material mind and senses. But the imitationists do not care to take this trouble. They misunderstand the process and while still being conditioned by the mind and the modes of material nature they try to bring the supramundane līlā of Kṛṣṇa within the quantum of their speculative process. The result of their imitation is zero—it is worse than zero—they likely will be hurled down to hell, losing the prospect of devotional service for many thousands of lifetimes.
The pure-hearted ecstatic devotees of Lord Caitanya, who are always absorbed in the intimate loving pastimes of the Divine Couple Śrī Śrī Rādhikā Mādhavasundara, consider the imitationists as a class of offenders. Such offenders are never the recipients of the mercy of the confidential devotees of Godhead and without the blessings of such higher Vaiṣṇavas it is not possible for them to progress in the line of rāgānuga-bhakti.
As in the case of the author of the book which you have mentioned, it is an unfortunate history but he and two others who first came in connection with our spiritual master Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Paramahaṁsa Parivrājakācārya Jagadguru Śrī Śrīmad A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, later on rejected the order of Śrīla Prabhupāda and took initiation from the siddha-prāṇali section. It was during Śrīla Prabhupāda’s lifetime and in his very presence that these men greatly displeased him. In this way these men became reject disciples and their advancement in spiritual life came to an end. In an attempt to rationalize their existence, they have taken to the study of many books and after acquiring some categorical knowledge of rāgānuga-bhakti and a misconceived siddha-prāṇali conception, they have tried to establish themselves as the actual followers of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu—while at the same time they are trying to discredit the authority and qualifications of our Śrīla Prabhupāda and of Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. It is sad to say, but they are simply increasing their offenses and paving their way to a darker and darker material existence.
Devotee: Although many of our western godbrothers and godsisters have only recently become aware of the siddha-prāṇali misconception and are now having to defend the line of pure devotion and our paramparā—am I correct to assume that this issue is not a new one but that it perhaps was something which our parama-gurus had to deal with?
Answer: Yes, it is a fact that the imitators have been creating or at least trying to create a disturbance in the teachings of Lord Caitanya for the last four hundred and fifty years. Almost immediately after the disappearance of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu the weeds of the imitationist sahajiyās, such as the Nityānanda-vaṁśa, began to sprout up. The Nityānanda vaṁśas were the family descendants of Lord Nityānanda Prabhu and they claimed a hereditary right to the performance of devotional service and to holding the exclusive position of guru. There were other sahajiyā groups, many of which were immoral and poorly behaved also.
By the time of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura the imitators had almost completely ruined the name of the Caitanya Vaiṣṇavas. At that time, the general public’s opinion of a Caitanya Vaiṣṇava was that he was a free mixer with loose women and begged from door to door in the dress of a holy man just to fill his belly. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, by his untiring service and uncompromising dedication to the pure precepts of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, after much difficulty brought dignity and respect once again to the Caitanya Vaiṣṇavas. He wrote many books, commentaries, and songs eliminating false conceptions and establishing the truth, Vaiṣṇava siddhānta.
After the disappearance of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura the imitators entered the line of Bhaktivinoda as the siddha-prāṇali concept but fortunately were detected and exposed by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was highly revolutionary in his approach to eliminate the imitators from the preceptorial line of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. For example, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura accepted sannyāsa and the red colour dress which was previously not accepted by the followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s disciples, the Six Gosvāmīs. Siddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura accepted Śrīla Gaura Kiśora Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja as a real bābājī-paramahaṁsa, but rejected all others in his time as pretenders. He declared that we shall hold a lower position as tridaṇḍī-sannyāsīs, or parivrājakācāryas and give dignity to the real paramahaṁsas. Actually Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was a paramahaṁsa-parivrajakācārya as were many of his followers and a significant proof of this is the fact that he gave the paramahaṁsa-bābājī mantra to his disciples at the time of giving them sannyāsa. That mantra is also the principle mantra of the rāgānuga–mādhurya-bhajana. We have explained this in two small booklets entitled, The Meaning of the Sannyāsa Aśrama and the Sannyāsa-gāyatrī-vākhya.
In a tactical manoeuvre to discredit Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta, the siddha-prāṇali section then declared that Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was not an actual follower of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and that he did not represent or fulfil the desires of Bhaktivinoda. This is a difficult accusation to substantiate.
Within our thinking and experience such a statement is totally weak, inaccurate and even foolish, since it was Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura who upheld the pure doctrines of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and exposed the many upstarts who attempted to equate the supra-mundane līlā of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs with the lusty affairs of mundane men and women. Further Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura showed us the proper standard of a sincere follower of the teachings of Mahāprabhu by always keeping the highest aspirations of service above our heads and by keeping the lotus feet of Rūpa and Ragunātha as our most worshipful object, pūjāla rāgapaṭha gaurava baṅge matala sadhu-jana viṣaya raṅge.
It is also a historical fact that the renowned disciple of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura namely our Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, on the order of his guru spread rāgānuga-bhakti as taught by Lord Caitanya all over the world in its truest and most perfect form, paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam.Saṅkīrtana-līlā means rasa-līlā.
And at this time it is the disciples of Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda and those of other branches of Śrīla Bhakti-siddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s disciplic succession who are continuing the paramparā system, giving great pleasure to Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. So, how one can say that Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was not the successor to Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura is unthinkable—at least to any sane person.
Question: What then should be our final position? Should we understand that all this talk about siddha-deha is false and therefore we should just continue with our service and the chanting of kṛṣṇa-nāma?
Answer: The siddha-deha of the living entity is not false, it is real. It is the highest stage of reality for the liberated souls who have entered the world of prema-bhakti. Only the process is being falsely practiced. One should therefore show interest and study this subject in great detail under the guidance of pure devotees who are themselves free from all kinds of material contamination—the tendencies toward exploitation and self-deception.
The path of rāgānuga-bhakti is in fact the process leading to one;s siddha-deha. That stage comes after the devotee enters into the realm of bhāva-bhakti, the stage of awakening of emotions prior to prema-bhakti, the stage of unalloyed spontaneous love of Kṛṣṇa. However, one must come to the stage of prema-bhakti by gradual purification and development. What is that? Adau śraddhā, sādhu-saṅga, bhajana-kriyā, anartha-nivṛtti, niṣṭhā, ruci, asakti, then bhāva, then prema-bhakti.
First one must have some faith, or śraddhā. Śraddha has been described as the halo of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Only Rādhārāṇī can reveal Kṛṣṇa to the devotee and Her good-will appears in the fortunate living entities as śraddhā. That śraddhā will lead one to associate with pure devotees, sādhu-saṅga. In the association of pure devotees one will hear the holy name of Kṛṣṇa and holy talks about Kṛṣṇa. Gradually one will come to inquire about making spiritual advancement and how to render devotional service. That is the stage of bhajana-kriyā. In bhajana-kriyā, initiation or dīkṣā is offered to the devotee who has taken shelter under the lotus feet of the spiritual master. By the acceptance of dīkṣā the devotee is given a proper acquaintance with the goal of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and he or she is sent in the direction of kṛṣṇa-līlā.
After receiving dīkṣā we can say that the devotee has begun the process of developing his spiritual body or siddha-deha. At that time all knowledge and services required for advancement are given to the disciple by the guru and one simply has to carry out those services in proper knowledge according to the directives given by the Six Gosvāmīs headed by Rūpa, Sanātana and Ragunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī.
Then comes the stage of anartha-nivṛtti, the clearing of unwanted things from the core of one’s heart. This means purification. Then niṣṭhā, firm faith develops, at which time one is not easily shaken from the path. One in the stage of niṣṭhā becomes steady in devotional service and does not waste time in idle talks or in matters that do not concern Kṛṣṇa.
Then comes the stage of ruci or a sweet taste for hearing the transcendental glories of the Supreme Lord, His name, His abode, His devotees, and His līlā. When ruci increases it becomes asakti or intense attachment. When attachment for hearing and chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa increases it becomes bhāva-bhakti, the awakening of transcendental emotions of love. These emotions which, when mature, are called prema, are the feelings that make up the spiritual body of a liberated devotee. This stage is also called svarūpa-siddhi, or the plane where the Divine Couple manifest Their transcendental pastimes.
Once the devotee has reached the stage of svarūpa-siddhi and acquired the status of siddha–deha, then one takes direct instruction from Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, Lalitā-devī and Viśākhāddevī. At that time, all the details about one’s eternal form and service are revealed. To want to know these things in the premature stage of devotion is māyā—material desire. The standard of pure devotion as taught by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His followers is that the desire for such knowledge should be rejected. It may come to the devotee and it certainly does in due course but it is never the desire of the pure devotees to want to know such things prematurely.
When the realized devotees give up their bodily connection with this material world they are immediately transferred to Gokula Vṛndāvana within the universe where Kṛṣṇa has manifest his līlā. There in the company of the eternal associates of the Divine Couple, the devotees receive a spiritual body corresponding to their rasa or mellow of service and all matters and details concerning their siddha-deha are revealed. Everything is automatically revealed to the devotee at that time and he need not make any mental endeavours to understand his position. When again the Lord manifests His līlā in another universe, at that time the devotee is transferred to Goloka Vṛndāvana, the vastu-sakti or the portion of līlā which always remains unmanifest. This is explained in Brahma-saṁhitā and the purports of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, text 2 and 55. All that is necessary for the devotees to achieve complete perfection is faith and full surrender to Kṛṣṇa.
The svarūpa-siddhi has also been described as the extended self of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. This is a most exulted stage of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, not to be cheaply achieved or imitated. We cannot jump to our siddha-deha by some artificial proclamation “Now you are a gopī.” That is not possible.
So long as one still has a material body one should receive direction from Rūpa, Sanātana, and Raghunātha Dāsa, while serving and taking shelter under a bona-fide spiritual master who knows the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If we follow the process in this way, then our success is assured. But if we want the cheaper method then we are lost.
Our paramparā is not in want of anything, as wrongly conceived by the imitators and some caste gosvāmīs. Actually Ragunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī has given us so many things. He has given us the divine service of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the highest aspiration within the infinite līlā of Kṛṣṇa. He has given us Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa, the highest place of service. He has given us Govardhana Hill, the place of our eternal residence. He has given us the aspiration for joining the highest group of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s servitors under the shelter of Lalitā-devī and Rūpa Mañjarī and He has given us the hope that one day we will be accepted into the group of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s most intimate associates as an insignificant servant. The imitators, misunderstanding all these things, are now bereft of the most valuable opportunity in this human form of life.
Our humble position is to go on uttering kṛṣṇa-nāma and rendering pure devotional service, free from exploitation and renunciation, at the lotus feet of our spiritual master, in the association of like-minded pure devotees. That is our eternal spiritual identity and there is nothing higher than this for the devotees to aspire for.
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