Quotes by Swami B.G. Narasingha Maharaja on the topic of Sādhana-bhakti. These are quotes and excerpts that have been extracted from articles, lectures and letters by Swami B.G. Narasingha.

BRAHMACĀRĪ DOESN’T MEAN LAZY LIFE!

If someone says, “I will become a brahmacārī because I don’t want the hassle of getting married,” then that’s simply immaturity speaking. For someone who says that, then the best thing for them is to get married and lead a responsible life. Brahmacārī doesn’t mean hanging out, leading a lazy life with no responsibility. That’s not what it means at all. It means a lot of responsibility. All devotee life means responsibility.

OUR ĀŚRAMA IS NOT MEANT FOR LAZY PEOPLE

Our āśrama is not meant for lazy people – just doing a little pūjā in the morning, then eating a big, big breakfast and spacing out and sleeping all afternoon, then evening, just sitting by the gate and talking nonsense. That’s what so many retired old men do in this country – they do some pūjā in the morning, then read newspapers on their verandah, eat nice idli and dosa, sleep all afternoon and then watch TV at night and sleep again. So what is the difference? We’ve come in connection with the highest thing. Actually, we can’t even dream of what we have received from our Guardians. So we can’t waste this chance. The human form of life is so rare, so difficult to achieve, and now we have it and we have come in connection with guru and Kṛṣṇa, we can’t waste it by being lazy and unproductive

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITY!

When you enter Kṛṣṇa consciousness, there’s a certain opportunity given to you. You have some sukṛti – so much mercy and opportunity is given. It’s like when you enter a theme-park and you are given all the tickets for the different shows – but if you walk around the whole time and don’t go to any of the shows, then a guy comes up and says, “Sorry, we’re closing in five minutes.”

“Oh! But I wanted to go to the aquarium! I didn’t go on the Ferris wheel!”

Too late now! Wasting time! Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja says, “You have sukṛti, you have the opportunity, but you don’t take advantage of it. All of a sudden, times runs out and you lose interest, you go away.”

We can’t just be lazy and not take advantage of the opportunity that we have – opportunities to use for service, opportunities for learning, opportunities for practicing. If we don’t take advantage of them, then we won’t get any benefit from those things. Time will pass and then our sukṛti runs out…

DON’T NEGLECT THE WORSHIP OF NARASIMHA

Sometimes pseudo-devotees of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa denounce the worship of Lord Narasiṁha and reject the chanting of Narasiṁha mantras. Such devotees do not know that if they themselves were to worship Lord Narasiṁha they might become free from their cunning and deceitful behaviour and advance in their worship of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.

NARASĪMHA IS NOT THE PROTECTOR FROM THE EXTERNAL SYMPTOMS OF THIS WORLD

Actually we are not worshiping Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva to protect us from some demons coming through the door. – you’d be better off getting an alarm system, a baseball bat and a gun! Just look at Vijayanagara – they had a Yoga-Nṛsiṁha Deity twenty-five feet tall. They were doing everything so pakka, and then the Muslim army came out of nowhere and just killed everybody, destroyed the Deity and everything.

So there are several reasons in the Gauḍīya tradition to worship Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva. One is that He has one or more places of līlā in the greater Navadvīpa area. There’s a Nṛsiṁhadeva temple at Mahāprabhu’s birthplace because Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva comes to the maṅgalāratika there, and realising this, Bhaktisiddhānta then established that Deity there. But it’s not to protect anybody…Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva is not the protector of the external symptoms of this world, he’s the protector of our heart, and the remover of anarthas.


ONLY ONE WHO HAS KṚṢṆA CONSCIOUSNESS CAN GIVE KṚṢṆA CONSCIOUSNESS

No amount of association of those who don’t actually have Kṛṣṇa can help you gain Kṛṣṇa at all. Nothing! Only bhakti gives bhakti. Only Kṛṣṇa gives Kṛṣṇa, and only one who has Kṛṣṇa Consciousness can give Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. It is not a mechanical process that you can just learn that by chanting a certain number of rounds, or certain types of meditation and all these things, then you’ll be Kṛṣṇa Conscious. It doesn’t work that way. It’s based on śraddhā, faith, and surrender. Surrender means śaranāgati – giving up this false ego which is our greatest obstacle in our spiritual life.

THE RESULT OF SACRIFICE WITHOUT SURRENDER

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here is no surrender without sacrifice. No one has surrendered yet without a degree of sacrifice. But if sacrifice is not a result of surrender, it does not lead to the sweetness of devotion. Therefore you will see that after many years, some devotees go away – they did the saṅkīrtana sacrifice, they were serving in the kitchen, or the garden, the Deity sevā…but deep within, śaraṇāgati was not there! Surrender was not there, and thus the sweetness of Kṛṣṇa did not become known to them.

I DON’T BELIEVE IN ANY OTHER RELIGION THAN THE WORSHIP OF GOVARDHANA!

On this day we used to go to Vṛndāvana and I would boldly announce: “Actually, I don’t believe in any other religion other than the worship of Govardhana. And my religious principle is to walk around Govardhana Hill.” That’s a strange type of religion, but if you go to Govardhana Hill you’ll see, “Oh yes, this is where religion is so sweet.”

OUR HALF-ASSED, LAZY ATTEMPT

H ere’s the problem – we go on ‘practicing’ Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but its all mechanical, our heart isn’t into it really. We don’t really believe it actually. Because if we REALLY believed in the process, why do we remain kaniṣṭhas? Why are we still chanting nāmāparādha? Why do we still talk all sorts of nonsense, gossip, talking about others? Why are we treating other devotees so poorly? All this means we are still on the fringe of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We’re not actually diving into the process seriously – even after so many years. That’s the benchmark, that’s the standard – if after so many years we’re still struggling to chant and behave like real Vaiṣṇavas, then it means we’re just not serious! We’re fooling ourselves thinking that we can make a half-assed, lazy attempt at Kṛṣṇa consciousness and still go back to Godhead in this lifetime!”

YOUR ONLY BUSINESS

R ecently somebody asked one young sannyāsī, “How do I know when my devotion is real bhakti.?” The answer was, “When you can take the betal-nut from Rādhārāṇī’s mouth and put it in to Kṛṣṇa’s mouth, then you will know that your devotion is real bhakti.”

My reply to that is, “If that happens, know for sure that you are either dead or dreaming – and it’s probably the latter!” That is no proof of devotion whatsoever! Mahāprabhu has shown us the proof of devotion. The proof of divine love is the more you have of it, the least you feel you have of it, but yet you are addicted to it to the point of madness. There is no other proof. We are not in the illusion of being in rasa-vicāra-līlā, but we are also not ‘gopi haters.’ Kṛṣṇa’s only business is with gopīs – HIS only business, not yours! Your only business is with the lotus feet of your guru.

THE ANALYTICAL STUDY OF BHAKTI

There is more to be experienced through proper service and positioning of one’s self at a distance from the intimacy of the Lord’s intimate pastimes, than there is in simply analytically querying the subject matter for the sake of satisfying one’s inquisitiveness. I have never been charmed by the analytical study of bhakti, when in fact unless one comes to the platform of purely chanting the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, there is no chance of ever entering into the ocean of emotions of love of God that are known as ‘higher topics’.

WHAT IS THE REAL CONSIDERATION?

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e don’t see Vaiṣṇavas based on their material position, their birth, their nationality, male or female, their age, how long they’ve been in the movement – these are not the real considerations. But we have to know what those real considerations are, and the most important consideration is “what is their highest ideal? What is their goal?”

FOCUS ON THE SPIRITUAL NECESSITY

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e have to give attention to the most essential thing if we want to be successful. We cannot give attention to the mundane side of things. This won’t bring any real success. Mundane purity, mundane morality, so many things in the mundane world – this will not bring any success. We have to give focus to the spiritual necessity. Then we can make real progress.

I DON’T BELIEVE IN KṚṢṆA CONSCIOUSNESS!

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ne devotee from a Jewish background went to see his dying grandpa who had tubes up his nose, was hooked up to a machine etc. The devotee said, “Grandpa, you’re a religious man. Your whole life you followed the Torah, went to the synagogue, always recited the prayers, lit the menorah – now, this life is over and you’re gonna go to heaven!”

Then his grandpa said, “Nah! I don’t believe in all that stuff!”

The devotee was shocked! “But Grandpa, you’re a Jew! You did all those things!”

“Oh, if you don’t do it, people in the neighbourhood will gossip, your grandma will complain, her sister….sheesh! So I do all that stuff, but I don’t believe in it.”

So, somebody may say to us, “Oh, you chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, you do sevā, take prasādam – you believe it! And actually the answer is, “No! I don’t BELIEVE it – I EXPERIENCE it!”

I know it’s true. I have experience. That old man did all those things, but he didn’t really believe in it and he didn’t have any experience. If he had some experience, then he would believe it. If there is no experience in Kṛṣṇa consciousness then we should all just go home!

WHEN CAN WE BATHE AT RĀDHĀ-KUṆḌA?

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t Rādhā-kuṇḍa, we always sit at Jāhnavā Devī’s sitting place and devotees ask me, “When is it possible for us to bathe at Rādhā-kuṇḍa?” I tell them, “There is an island in the middle of Rādhā-kunḍa, and from Jāhnavā Devī’s sitting place there is a bridge made of sparkling crystal which arches out to that place. When you can see that island and the bridge and everyone standing on it, then you can have a bath at Rādhā-kuṇḍa! Until then, be happy to put some water on your head, see the big turtles and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa without offence and deeply within your heart take the Holy Name. When we are drawn into the plane of eternal pastimes, then we are fit for Rādhā-kuṇḍa. Millions of gopīs that dance in the rāsa-līlā with Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana are not fit for Rādhā-kuṇḍa – so how did you suddenly become so fit for it?

When we get near that place, I tell the devotees, “Stop the car, everyone to the side, answer the call of nature, get it together – don’t even spit while you’re here! Just go around two or three times and chant the Holy Name, and when you find yourself having to pass water, its time to move on!”

What are you gonna do when you wake up in the morning? Clean your tongue first, wipe the sleep out of your eyes, wake up to the world and start your sādhana. Don’t live there! Live back at some distance and go there. It’s like a pūjārī – he doesn’t go to do pūjārī work blowing his nose and doing all these things! He prepares himself with bath etc. then does his service and comes back from that plane. Then your service has value. Don’t go there for sleeping, urinating and all these things. You go there for just worshipping Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and then go back. Prabhupāda never gave us a place of residence there.

PRABHUPĀDA ON BATHING AT RĀDHĀ-KUṆḌA

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n 1976 some devotees dove into Rādhā-kuṇḍa one day and they were doing back-flips off the steps and it was crazy. I was in one corner chanting and one devotee came leaping over me and landed in the water. One devotee almost drowned there and they had to pull him out. It was chaos. The next morning the message came – somebody had told Prabhupāda what had happened and he said, “You have kicked Rādhārāṇī on the head! This is a great offence.” The he clearly said, “I don’t want anyone to bathe in Rādhā-kuṇḍa again.” That went on for about five years then somebody thought, “That’s old school – we can move ahead now because we know you should do it respectfully.” Certainly bathing respectfully is better than skydiving into Rādhā-kuṇḍa. However, the fact is that if you just look into what is the example of our previous ācāryas, you can understand that our sampradāya keeps great respect for those things that are most sacred. Of all the līlā-sthālis, Rādhā-kuṇḍa is given the most reverence.

THIS IS NOT A MOVEMENT FOR INCREASING KANIṢṬHA ADHIKĀRĪS

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rīla Prabhupāda sent a letter when I was in Denver and it said, “We have enough disciples, there are enough devotees. Now is the time to ‘boil the milk!’” How many devotees did we have in the whole world? A couple of thousand – and that was enough! ‘Now is the time to boil the milk.’ This is not a movement to go on increasing kaniṣṭha-adhikārīs! It’s not even a movement to go on increasing madhyama-adhikārīs! It is a movement to make pure devotees! And if we all get together and we say, “Gee! No one’s a pure devotee!” Then? The conclusion is the mission failed! This mission is not about having a better next life – try again! The movement is about pure devotion – its not about mixed devotion, its not about anything less than love of God!

THE MIND AND THE ELBOW

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he mind cannot reach transcendence any more than your elbow! The elbow is made of so many material elements, and the mind is also a material element. Even intelligence is one of the aṣṭa-bhūta, the eight material elements. Mind, intelligence and senses may be engaged. Your elbow can also be engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service, but we cannot capture the plane of Kṛṣṇa’s eternal pastimes with this material mind. The sahajiyās try to capture that and bring it down to their level.

WHAT IS YOUR CONCEPTION OF PURITY & PERFECTION?

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he Ṛtviks will state that the guru must be pure and per¬fect. Yes, but what is your conception of purity or perfection? In which way shall we consider that he is perfect or not? How shall we understand his purity? By Vedic standards the gopīs are impure – they are unchaste from the material point of view, but what is their standard of spiritual purity? They are actually the purest of the pure because they simply want to satisfy Kṛṣṇa. They have no separate desire other than to please Kṛṣṇa. Why is it that the wives of the yajñika-brāhmaṇas in kṛṣṇa–līlā were purer than their husbands? Because they simply tried to satisfy Kṛṣṇa and His friends.

KṚṢṆA CONSCIOUSNESS IS NOT A GAME!

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on’t ask in order to show that you know more than somebody else. It is not a game! If you play that game, you lose whatever you thought you had. It disappears. You do not play a game with Kṛṣṇa consciousness…trying to show that you know more than someone else.

WHAT WILL BE LEFT AT THE TIME OF DEATH?

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t’s funny how for decades we heard Śrīla Prabhupāda say, “You’re not this body” over and over again, but I still know of devotees – DEVOTEES! who are so convinced otherwise that they spend huge amounts of money on a “nose-job” or a “tuck-and fold!” And at the time of death what will be left? Your material body will fall to pieces, and all that will be left is your perfect plastic nose or your perfect silicon implants! All that junk you’ve had tacked onto your body will outlive you! We’re laughing, but actually it’s pretty sad…

FORGETTING THE SIMPLICITY OF KṚṢṆA CONSCIOUSNESS

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rīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja used to say, “Remember why you came to Kṛṣṇa consciousness!” – its a simple phrase, but I think that oftentimes we forget that. We get absorbed in management-consciousness, guru-consciousness, sannyāsī-consciousness, gṛhastha-consicousness, society-consciousness…and we end up forgetting what the actual goal is – why we joined in the first place. It gets eclipsed by all these other things. The simplicity of Kṛṣṇa consciousness gets forgotten and we end up fighting over all these other things, thinking they are more important.

‘YOU’RE NOT THIS BODY’ IS A THEORY RIGHT NOW!

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e don’t experience who we are everyday. We are so caught in this world, in this body, in this mind, with this intelligence, all these things. And we don’t experience actually who we are, what we are. We say we are not this body, we’re spirit soul, servant of Kṛṣṇa, but that’s a theory. Right now it’s just a theory, it’s a theory and then you have to run all the tests. But they say, “now you have to the get compliant.” You have to run through all the tests and come up to the mark of that theory. Then one will realize the self. It’s a little different than the theory, the theory is not as awarding. The theory of who we are gives liberation actually. It’s a theory that I’m not this body etc. that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All that is called nāmābhāsa. Liberation comes there. For the most part, we’ve been left with that experience. Liberation at least in terms of euphoria, freedom from material suffering, gross material consciousness and all of these things. But the direct perception of Kṛṣṇa, surpasses liberation, it gives ecstasy, ānanda. It gives supreme pleasure, bliss, ānanda. Premānanda, the supreme ecstasy of divine love.

THE STATUS QUO IS NOT SUFFICIENT!

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think all over the world, we find ourselves guilty of the same shortcomings sooner or later – and that is we just kind of accept Kṛṣṇa consciousness to a point and then we just go on with our lives from there. We struggle with finances…things like that, the status quo, particularly in this country. A lot of devotees have joined the status quo of middle-class America – homes, businesses, such things. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is there on the back-burner, just simmering, but it has to go beyond that actually. Its not sufficient. Either today, or tomorrow, or next week, it has to become the single focus of our existence. Otherwise, by the time life is over, we won’t get the world of our dreams. Why would someone have to live a whole life of sacrifice, devotion, dedication, when the same thing will be given to anybody? No – something will be given, the Lord is not ungrateful. But Bhaktivinoda says, “We will not accept that those who have dedicated themselves to the lotus feet of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī will get the same destination as the general class of devotees of Kṛṣṇa? Never! It is not possible!” According to our commitment, there will be a reciprocation.

Sometimes you meet people, and they ask your name, and then they can’t remember it two seconds later, and they ask, “Oh, how are you?” Sometimes you feel like saying, “Why are you even asking me? You don’t want to know how I am!” Sometimes you get sick of ’small-talk.’ Then? Can we make ‘small-talk’ with Kṛṣṇa and He’s going to accept that? That’s enough to endear Him and capture Him? He wants our whole heart! End of story!

THE HEART IS TOUCHED BY REAL HUMILITY

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hen things get bad, get humble! I’ve seen many times grievances between devotees on many, many levels – but as soon as one party is prepared to come down, right or wrong, and show some humble attitude in their dealings, it’s quite effective. The human heart is touched by it, by real humility”

LOOKING AT EACH OTHER’S FACES IS A WASTE OF TIME!

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ṛṣṇa consciousness is not a social event, but sadly we’ve all wasted a lot of time in the social side. It’s just a waste of time. We should busy ourselves In the evening – we should either be in kīrtana, in a class, sitting in association of devotees, hearing the scriptures, working on a manuscript, learning mṛdaṅga – something very positive. This thing where we’re just sitting, looking at each other’s faces talking is an absolute waste of life.

YOU DON’T GO BACK TO GODHEAD JUST BY MANAGEMENT!

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ometimes we hear that management is the department of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī – Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahāraja has said that. Here, (Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion Vol.3), he is saying that “extensive management is the department of Yogamāyā.” But that type of management is very different to the so-called management here. Management here is mostly dealing with problems – problems that we create for ourselves. That is not Rādhārāṇī or Yogamāyā’s department – that is Mahāmāyā’s department! I’ve seen so many temple presidents, GBCs, saṅkīrtana leaders managing, managing, managing…you don’t go back to Godhead simply by managing problems. Of course, problems will come and we have to deal with them, but that shouldn’t be our ONLY service – creating more solutions which create more problems over and over again. Anyone can learn management, but you can’t learn to be a sādhu, a Vaiṣṇava!

DON’T BE A SELF-DECEIVER!

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riginally (at the beginning of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement) we had nothing. Then there were so many devotees. Then we could open temples, and sell books, and do so many things. But if we get distracted and involved with so many things then again there may be a deviation. That is the nature of this world. With time, some deviation comes. We have to reassess the situation. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja used to say, “Don’t cheat yourself. After sacrificing your families, your education, your wealth, even leaving your parent’s will, society status, friends from university, brothers, and so many things – you’ve sacrificed all that to come to Kṛṣṇa. Now don’t cheat yourself in the name of society consciousness, adopting all those lower things again, but just with a different social status and attaching mundanity to all these things. Continue on the path. Don’t be a self-deceiver.” He said. “Ascertain why did you come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and continue after that same thing. Don’t be deviated.”

ECSTASY OR JUST BILE SECRETION?

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lot of the exuberance in the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement is nothing more than youth, passion, and in Prabhupāda’s word’s “bile secretion” – it has nothing to do with real ecstasy. Real ecstasy doesn’t come and go like the electricity in India! Real ecstasy is like the flow of the Gaṅgā, it comes and it doesn’t stop. It may go to the hidden corners, in the deep recesses of the heart, but the niṣṭhā of that devotee doesn’t waver.

So if you are still wavering in Kṛṣṇa Consciousness, in any way shape or form, in your sādhana, in your determination, in your behavior or anything, you have never reached ecstasy. When you touch upon ecstasy, than you never again go back to the thraldom of the material world – even if you are sick, half dead or dying, you will not be affected. Ecstasy is there, it is possible – but it is not just a matter of exuberance.

THIS IS NOT A GAME!

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he thing to ask people about is not kṛṣṇa-līlā. For your own understanding in this very pluralistic world, if you want to find out who is really gathering from the inner circle, ask them about the Pañca-Tattva. But don’t ask in order to show that you know more than somebody else. It is not a game. If you play that game, you lose whatever you thought you had. It disappears. You do not play a game with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, trying to show that you know more than someone else. When you ask somebody to describe the Pañca-Tattva, you will probably find some people will not want to talk about that topic because it is not “high enough.” That is the first thing you will understand – those who are claiming to have great realization about kṛṣṇa-līlā, but are not interested in the simple Pañca-Tattva. There is something wrong there, because the Pañca-Tattva goes from the most basic principle of Reality to the zenith of Reality.

ALL MERCY IS NOT THE SAME

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ltimately everything is Kṛṣṇa’s ‘mercy’ but all mercy is not the same. There are gradations of mercy in terms of the status of the recipient. It is wrong to think that Kṛṣṇa shows the same mercy to conditioned souls that he shows to pure devotees or even sincere devotees.

IS KṚṢṆA THE OBJECT OF OUR EYE-ENJOYMENT?

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e should ask ourselves, “What is my love for Kṛṣṇa? Is it so great that Kṛṣṇa is bound to appear before my eyes?” Should we want to make Kṛṣṇa the object of our eye-enjoyment? That also we must renounce. Following in the footsteps of the Six Gosvāmīs, we must cultivate the mood of separation i.e., the search for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. That was shown by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and that was followed by all His followers and that has been recommended by our ācāryas also.

WHEN WE FEEL UNHAPPY…

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e have to be greedy for the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa. When we have that intensity of hankering, then Kṛṣṇa will fully reveal Himself in our heart in His Name, with His form, with His pastimes, and everything associated with Him. Although we feel so much happiness in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, sometimes we don’t feel so satisfied. At that time, Kṛṣṇa may be testing us. He just won’t give us happiness. The day will pass and we just won’t feel natural happiness and blissfulness. He is putting us in a position that we will surrender more sincerely to Him. We will chant with more earnestness, and we will hanker more for Him. In happiness or distress, a devotee must execute his duties – not only when happiness is there.

KṚṢṆA’S BLESSINGS MAY NOT BE WHAT WE DESIRE

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ercy and blessings do not come according to our design. If you are sincere, Kṛṣṇa will give you that, but how it comes is totally unimaginable at this point. It may come in the form of great success or total devastation. But if you’re sincere, whatever happens, you will see it as Kṛṣṇa’s arrangement. In your final position – either success or failure, it is in His hands. But always the devotee has to pray, “Whatever You wish, whatever You desire, I am ready to surrender to that.”

RĀGĀNUGA BHAKTI IS A SIN!

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nfortunately rāgānuga-bhakti has been labelled a sin and vaidhi-bhakti has been shot in the foot with the gun of Vaiṣṇava aparādha, which has duplicity, malice, hatred, envy, foolishness and mundane sentiments as its six bullets. Thus, from the very beginning (vaidhi-bhakti), if one has unfortunately sustained such ‘bullet wounds.’ there will be no progress in pure devotional service.

PUTTING ASIDE YOUR EXPERIENCES

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o enter into proper understanding of the śāstra and revealed truths spoken by pure devotees, the jīva has to put aside all mundane considerations and experiences. Only by advancement in pure devotional service are the pure and unalloyed truths regarding the Absolute Reality revealed to a jīva. Argument and word jugglery are useless attempts at realising the truth.

THE CENTRE OF REALITY IS LOVE, NOT GODHEAD

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ccording to Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava philosophy, never before was bhakti described as both the means and the end. Mahāprabhu’s characterization of love as the supreme goal is the most important landmark in the history of philosophy and religion. According to Mahāprabhu, the centre of reality is love, not Godhead. Though Godhead is the embodiment of love itself, He has an ever-loving desire for love. Love is a gravitational force that works at two ends: it draws the devotee to Godhead and Godhead to the devotee.

CONTAMINATED BHAKTI

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here are many things of high value that have been contaminated, particularly in India. But now this is also true in the west where we find that even kīrtana, the all purifying agent, is being contaminated by the so-called bhakti movement (such as Bhakti Fest). There we find that people chant the Holy Name, but do not follow the principles of pure devotion. In fact, some are not even vegetarian and the rules of celibacy and other Vaiṣṇava conduct is not even a remote consideration. It is simply kīrtana and sex life in the name of bhakti – a typical sahajiyā platform.

DIFFICULT – BUT POSSIBLE…

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ery often in spiritual life, we want to come to the end result without taking the trouble of all the steps in between. We want darśana of Kṛṣṇa, we want God-realization, but we don’t want to perform any austerity. We want to eliminate all the intermediate steps, and simply come to the final step. It is very very difficult – but it is possible, if sincerity is there. If you understand that goal of life in just one day or forty-five days, then you don’t stop. You don’t just quit! Even if you fall down, you can’t forget it. When you know the goal of life and you have glimpsed Kṛṣṇa even from a million miles away, you can never forget that experience. You can never get it out of you mind. You can’t leave it, and you will always find yourself striving for that.

MY CASTE IS JAGĀI AND MĀDHĀI!

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ithout the mercy of Nityānanda Prabhu, no one can understand who is Śrī Caitanya. So first we must come to the grace of Nityānanda Prabhu, and particularly it is remembered that Nityānanda Prabhu delivered the two famous dacoits — rascal’s number one — Jagāi and Madhāi.

When someone asked in India, “What is your caste?” I told them, “Jagāi and Madhāi, is my caste.” So Nityānanda Prabhu by His great mercy, He delivered these two most fallen souls in all recorded history. Even it is said in Caitanya Maṅgala by Locana Dās Ṭhākura, that these two, when admitting their sins said, “We have even killed thousands of brāhmaṇas, women and children.” Means in their previous lives they were the killers of brāhmaṇas, women, and even children. But they were delivered by the mercy of Nityānanda Prabhu. So our concern is in that way, the line of mercy. The mercy will come down to the world through Nityānanda Prabhu. He is considered the mercy expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By His mercy one may have access to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

OUR ONLY HOPE…

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auḍīya Vaiṣṇava feels and thinks that his only hope in approaching Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa is by surrender to the lotus feet of Guru and Gaurāṅga. Surrender, śaranāgati, slavery to the infinite is the highest freedom. This principle has been accepted as essential by all Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. Gaurāṅga is the infinite…

BE IN AN AFFECTIONATE MOOD AMONGST YOURSELVES

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ou cannot invent the process, but through guru you are getting all good direction according to your inquiry, then good direction is there. That’s our first concern – to follow the process as we’re being taught. I’m requesting everyone to chant more than sixteen rounds a day. I’m requesting everyone to avoid the offences to the Holy Name while chanting. I’m requesting everyone to be in enthusiastic mood of service, to search for service, not avoid for service. I am requesting the devotees, “Be in affectionate mood amongst yourselves – not in an antagonistic mood.” Simple things….

I AM THIS BODY!!

A

higher truth here is a total falsity in the spiritual world – it is totally false! It’s a truth you have heard particularly in Iskcon classes every day – “You are not the body.” How many times have you heard that? Thousands of times! But if you go to Goloka Vṛndāvana and you tell somebody, “You are not the body.” They’ll say, “You’re wrong. I AM this body!” So the body is not different there. It is a spiritual body. So a higher truth here is a nothing there.

KṚṢṆA IS NOT FOR OUR EYE-ENJOYMENT!

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e should ask ourselves, ‘What is my love for Kṛṣṇa? Is it so great that Kṛṣṇa is bound to appear before my eyes?’ Should we want to make Kṛṣṇa the object of our eye-enjoyment? That also we must renounce. Following in the footsteps of the Six Gosvāmīs we must cultivate the mood of separation i.e., search for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. That was shown by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and that was followed by all His followers and that has been recommended by our ācāryas also.

HOW TO DEVELOP REAL DETACHMENT

O

ur first goal in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is to become a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Without becoming a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa one cannot enter into the mysteries of chanting the Holy Name. Professional kīrtana, frenzied dancing, and the mastery of knowledge (though popular in some societies) are not the symptoms of pure devotional service in love of God, nor do such things help us to progress in the right direction. One has to develop real detachment from wealth, sense pleasure, and the desire for popularity.

OLD IS NOT THE QUALIFICATION!

O

he higher devotees may not do something physical. They are doing their service on a platform they have achieved which is much, much sweeter to Kṛṣṇa. It is more substantial, but it is completely out of reach for those who are not there. There’s a saying – ‘You don’t know because you weren’t there’, well, you don’t know because you’re not qualified! But we should understand that these planes exist, and we should not expect to see the same service from the senior members. But of course, they should not claim that their only service is eating prasāda or providing dirty laundry to be washed by others. Old is not the qualification for nirjana-bhajana…simply growing old, simply becoming infirm. That is not the qualification.

LOOK DEEPER!

A

fter fifty years of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, I’m concerned about the fine points – not just about the four regulative principles, how many rounds I chanted or how many books I sold. After fifty years I’m looking a little deeper. I want to know the truth of myself and how truthful I am with this process. Truthfulness is something which will serve you well. Try to be truthful about yourself.

BALANCING A BALL ON YOUR NOSE…

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editation is like balancing a ball on your nose. You can do it…you can hold the form of the Supreme Lord in your meditation, just like you can balance a ball on your nose, but sooner or later you’re going to drop it! And sooner or later He vanishes from your meditation – you cannot hold Him there. The yogis are said sometimes to have held the Absolute Form of the Infinite in their heart for centuries – and then lost it. But one who has captured Kṛṣṇa by pure devotion has never lost Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is given to that person.

HEARING IS THE REAL PRINCIPLE, NOT READING

I

have a friend, who never read any of the scriptures. He never read the Gītā, he never read the Bhāgavatam, or any of these things until he was probably over fifty years old. And he was an ācaryā. But rather, from the time that he was sixteen until he was fifty-five or sixty, he was the personal servant of his guru, and he listened to him for forty plus years, and at any given day that Mahārāja knows thousands of ślokas and he never read any of the books. He just got it all from hearing from his guru. So the real principal is not reading – it’s hearing, śravaṇam.”

HOME TESTS

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nce I heard Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja say, “There will be home tests.” Like home sweet home. “Home tests.” “There will be home tests in the teaching of Śrīla Prabhupāda.” Then he said, “They do not believe what he has taught actually.” We are hearing that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Person, He is Supreme enjoyer, Goloka Vṛndāvana is the Supreme place, this material world is nothing, there the life is eternal—all these things we are hearing, but we don’t believe it. It means that even after becoming devotee, after many years, one may try to make a business out of being a Vaiṣṇava and live comfortably in this world. One may even try to make a business out of being a guru. But there will be tests. And then he said, “Many are going away. They have not passed the test of Prabhupāda.”

NOT A ‘PICTURE-LOOKING RELIGION’

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n the beginning, you will see beauty in a picture of Kṛṣṇa, I think you will always see beauty in a picture of Kṛṣṇa. In the beginning, pictures hold a certain value. Śrīla Prabhupāda called them ‘windows to the spiritual world.’ But in a more advanced life in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, you are not dependent on pictures. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja said, “This is not a picture looking religion.” Rather, you will find you are more sensitive to pictures – how they are displayed, how they are used, how they are not used, and all these things. You are not dependent on seeing a picture of Kṛṣṇa. It is not necessary to remind you of Kṛṣṇa at that point. At the same time, you are more concerned about how pictures of Kṛṣṇa are dealt with. You are more sensitive to those things.

ARE WE DRINKING DEEPLY?

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e should hear in a disciplic succession. We should hear from the pure source. But what happens is, even sometimes when hearing from the pure source, we don’t drink that very deeply. Therefore we don’t get deeply nourished. There are many people who heard from Śrīla Prabhupāda and fell asleep. There were many people who didn’t even shed a simple tear from their eye when he left this world. There were others who cried for weeks on end, twenty-four hours a day. I talked to some devotees who were perplexed. They didn’t know what to do because they had read that one should cry at the disappearance of the guru, and they didn’t feel a thing! So we can’t say that everyone who came in touch with Śrīla Prabhupāda, even his disciples, felt the same thing, or became equally convinced. As time has shown us, they didn’t.

CULTIVATING A FEELING…

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ṛṣṇa consciousness is just about cultivating a feeling. All that you know in this world will vanish at the time of death; everything goes, and a feeling overwhelms us. Darkness comes, sound goes away, and there is a feeling. For those who are not God-conscious, that feeling is all about matter, all about anxiety. That feeling is fear, attachment, and all these mundane things. But for a devotee, that feeling is love, bhāva, prema – feelings of love towards Kṛṣṇa.

THIS IS NOT KṚṢṆA CONSCIOUSNESS!

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ho made the t-shirts with Kṛṣṇa on them? Did a pure devotee sit down and start silk-screening t-shirts and passing them out? Nope. The shop keepers did. For what? For money! Who started hari-nāma bead bags? They did. Who started hari-nāma chaddars? They did. We think that is Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. This is not Kṛṣṇa consciousness! Did you ever see a picture of Śrīla Prabhupāda or Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja wearing a T-shirt of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa? This is some kind of hippyism – this is not preaching, this is not spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is becoming inattentive to the divinity of the pictures of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and becoming very commonplace. And at the end of the day, they’re thrown in the corner with your dirty socks or worse.

WHAT IS PERFECTION?

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his idea that you must hear from a rasikācārya in order to achieve perfection – this is false. Yasya prasādad bhagavata-prasādo yasya prasādād na gatiḥ kuto’pi – there is perfection! You must please your guru and all perfection will come. If go out there and chop wood to your last breath and he is pleased by that, you will get perfection. If he wants you to be a pūjārī, a cook, sell books, or sell books, be a pūjārī and chop the wood – you’ll start praying for four hands because he wants you to do so many things – just do it and try your very best, and that is perfection. And that you’ll find in the writings of all the ācāryas for all time from Vyāsa down to the current day. At the same time, in the highest plane of love, we need to come in touch with the most intimate plane of Kṛṣṇa’s līlā, and so Kṛṣṇa will send someone to help us into that last stage of wonder in eternity.

SOUND CAN DESTROY OUR PROGRESS

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ound is the most powerful thing you can ever come in touch with! It’s the most powerful thing! It can make or mar. What to speak if you are tuned into a little heavy metal sometimes on the way to town or something…that can destroy actually. What will it destroy? The little progress you make inside can just be destroyed by those sounds. You have to be very distant from those sounds. Keep towards sounds that are pointed towards Divinity. If you can make the step, go with the Divine – don’t mix it up at all. Just try to remain as pure as possible. Its a happy life….purity.

Every time I cross a border and look at my passport, I do the math and think, “Well, if I’m lucky, I’ll have twenty years left.” So I can’t afford to mix things up any more. I want pure drops of immortal nectar – nothing less.

I DON’T NEED, I HAVE EVERYTHING!

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ecently, there was a devotee in a highly posted position and he gave it up, and some people were saying, “Well, at least he’s honest.” That’s not honesty! Honesty means to submit yourself to a higher Vaiṣṇava. Humility ultimately means you must be in harmony with the higher Vaiṣṇavas. We must have that within ourselves to seek some shelter, have some blessings, some connection. Not that we will just stand erect on the battlefield and say, ‘We don’t need anything. We don’t need anything…’ That is the exact opposite of how we should feel. “I don’t need. I have everything!” That type of mood is exactly the opposite. We should feel a need, because we’re actually units of need – needy units, conscious units, units of necessity.

COOPERATING WITH THE WILL OF KṚṢṆA

S

ometimes a devotee has to assert himself against anti-elements. But in our community there is no such occasion that arises when a devotee has to assert himself against another devotee. With the Vaiṣṇavas you can follow the ideals of humility, cooperation, surrender and all these things to the most ideal extreme. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura takes this position and says, “The conditioned soul’s position is even lower than that of grass because it has this opposing tendency.” So we should try to see about that as time goes along in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Try to come into harmony, and a cooperative spirit with the will of Kṛṣṇa and not oppose it.

VAIṢṆAVA PRAYER

H

ow many times a year do devotees fall sick and devotees are praying for them? This is Judaeo-Christian religion! It’s not Vaiṣṇavism. Vaiṣṇavas don’t pray for those things. Just this morning I was reading Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu about what should be the mood of Vaiṣṇava prayer, and no part of it is asking for any material anything – even life! Life is a material thing, health is a material thing. A real prayer that is accepted by Kṛṣṇa doesn’t have any of those elements.

So the first thing is totally submission to the will of the Lord, “I am your servant, your slave!” Total submission! Another element is glorification – the glorification of Kṛṣṇa. But as far as. ‘Oh, my family member or my friend is suffering in the hospital’ – Krsna knows! Its not like, “Wow, guys! I guess not enough prayers came in this week, so your friend gets to check out!!!” This isn’t Christianity where we all hold hands and pray for you, put our hands on your head and all this stuff. This is about attaining pure devotional service, and death comes for everyone.

IS IT REALLY ‘ECSTASY’?

R

eal ecstasy doesn’t come and go like the electricity in India! Real ecstasy is like the flow of the Gaṅgā – it comes and it doesn’t stop. It may go to some hidden corner in the deep recesses of the heart, but the niṣṭhā of such a devotee with real ecstasy doesn’t waver. So if you are still wavering in Kṛṣṇa Consciousness in any way, shape or form – in your sādhana, in your determination, in your behaviour or anything – you have never reached ecstasy to this day. When you touch upon ecstasy, than you will never again go back to the thraldom of the material world. Even if you are sick, half dead or dying, you will not be affected. Ecstasy is there, it is possible, but it is not just a matter of exuberance…

THE MOON IN A BUCKET OF WATER…

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hen hearing the pastimes of Dhruva and Prahlāda, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu would manifest the symptoms of prema-bhāva, but some rascals are so foolish that they criticize Dhruva and Prahlāda. The conclusion is that, not only do they not have even the slightest prema-bhāva in their contaminated hearts, they do not even have an idea what real prema-bhāva actually is! When they speak about ‘mañjarī-bhāva’ it is like the reflection of the moon in a bucket of water — they actually have no real connection with the higher subjective plane.

WE REQUIRE THE BRUSH!

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f you have greasy hands and you wash your hands with cold water, what do you have when you’re finished? Greasy hands! That doesn’t work. Okay – warm water, then soap, then brush. You have to brush that crud out of there. So even to wash your hands, different levels of intensity are required. So we shouldn’t think that we will casually take up the Holy Name, chant for a few minutes every day and become purified of all troubling things in the heart, and all these things will go away and we will experience supreme bliss, and simply live a life of love with Kṛṣṇa. That’s not possible! We require the brush! The brush means that we must rigorously take up the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa. And ‘rigor’ doesn’t just mean running up and down your living room in the morning looking at others who still haven’t really woken up yet and shouting, “HARE KṚṢṆA! HARE KṚṢṆA! Chant the Holy Name!” That’s not really rigorous – that’s passionate!

HIGH TALKS FROM A SMALL MOUTH

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e are the followers of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura who’s internal life is fully expressed in the śloka, “Pūjala rāga-patha gaurava bhaṅge.” Our position is to always keep ourselves a little distant and below the highest domain. We are servants of the dust of the lotus feet of Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Raghunātha. We are not the enjoyers of rasa. High devotional talks do not look good in the mouth of those who have not overcome anarthas. I will be happy to share the śikṣā and realizations that we have received from Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, and Śrīla Purī Mahārāja with you, but this will not be in line with the current trend of hari-kathā that you are presently being exposed to.

WHY THE DRAMA?

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hy did Gauḍīya Maṭha have to go thru all that mess? Things just go the way they go! Kṛṣṇa likes to see the fun, I guess…He likes to see the drama, the surrender, the struggle, the success. Why did Kṛṣṇa send the Pāṇḍavas to the forest? Why didn’t He just go in and take care of business, and put them on the throne? Why did they have to stand around in the forest for all those years? Why does it have to be so difficult? Why can’t it be so easy? Because, from the difficulty, something will rise out which is even more valuable, which is even greater!

ARE YOU PREPARED TO SUFFER FOR KṚṢṆA?

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eal devotion is first indicated by freedom from the desire for materialism, name and fame, recognition, having a big mission, many followers, great wealth, being praised by beautiful ladies etc. If you are free from that, then that is a symptom of advancement. Are you prepared to suffer for Kṛṣṇa? We all want the bliss. Everyone is about ‘ecstatic’ kīrtana – blah, blah, blah! But are you prepared to sweat for Kṛṣṇa? Are you prepared to labour for Kṛṣṇa? Are you prepared to suffer for Kṛṣṇa? When you ask that question, there’s generally not a clear ‘yes.’ There is a phrase, ‘In heaven or in hell.’ We must do the same thing. If He wants us to go to a bad place, then we will go there. If He wants us to serve in a good place, we will go there. Not that we will say, ‘I will serve You, but only in India, only in a good bungalow. I will serve You, but only in the tropics. Only, only, only! Conditional! We have to be free from conditional service. This also means not doing what we want to do and offering it to Kṛṣṇa – it means doing what Kṛṣṇa wants us to do! It is very rare to achieve pure devotion service. It is not a readily available commodity. But we have the process of sādhana-bhakti that will help us progress to pure devotion. If we have the desire for pure devotion, then that is our saving grace.

THE SECRET TO BIRTH AND DEATH

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he secret to the problem of birth and death is exclusively found within the relationship between a bona fide guru and a bona fide disciple. Such is the conclusion of the sattvata-śāstras and of the opening statement of Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura in Śrī Guruvāṣṭakam.

MĀYĀ IS A HAIR’S BREADTH AWAY!

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et me introduce your mortal enemy – it’s not Al Qaeda, it’s not ISIS, it’s not the tax department, it’s not a corrupt prime minister – our mortal enemy is Māyā. In other words, we have to fight Māyā and become free from her. Māyā follows the false ego – she is a hair’s breadth away. In fact, false ego and Māyā are synonymous. So a devotee is constantly reminding himself, ‘I am servant. I am servant. I am servant. I am servant!’ In this way, one escapes Māyā at every thought, and then, acting in that way, one easily escapes Māyā.

ORDINARY PRACTICES ARE NOT ORDINARY

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igh devotion does not necessarily mean that it must always be the discussions of kṛṣṇa-līlā. High devotion also means understanding what is prasādam and similar things that we have come to take for granted. High devotion means to understand the inner meaning, or the substance of all the practices in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. What is serving prasādam, what is serving the Deity, and so forth. All these seemingly simple ordinary daily practices are not really ordinary at all, they are divine activities with a deep connection in the spiritual world of eternal pastimes of the Supreme Lord.

DO WE REALLY BELIEVE IT?

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e practically don’t even believe that there is a God, and when we come in contact with so much personal information, we may accept it but then, do we really believe it? Do we really believe the Supreme Personality of Godhead came to this earth many, many thousands of times to deliver the fallen souls? Do we really believe that God is a person and an eternal cowherd boy playing in the groves of Vṛndāvana with His eternal associates? Do we really believe that the spiritual world is existing and every moment there is eternity? Do we really believe that this place is a place of suffering?

At the stage of the madhyama-adhikārī, we go back and forth with this for a long, long time. When we come to the stage of the uttama-adhikārī, then it can be said that we really beleive it, because at that point we don’t even have any flickering attachment for anything less than Kṛṣṇa, for anything that this world has to offer. But if you are truthful with yourself, you will see that the madhyama-adhikārī has so many attachments and attractions to this material world. He is still dealing with that plane. Madhyama-adhikārīs are not fully surrendered souls – they are on the path.

THE PROBLEM WITH ‘DOVE-TAILING’

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ometimes we hear that we should ‘dove-tail’ our desires in the service of Kṛṣṇa, but the problem with the ‘dove-tailing’ process is that the desires themselves become nourished by such a process and never actually go away. What is recommended is that the serious devotee should accept those things favourable to pure devotion and immediately give up the connection with anything detrimental to pure devotional service. The path of exclusive surrender to Kṛṣṇa begins in that way.

FINDING THE ‘BALANCE’

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hen you live in the world, then there is no ‘balance.’ Balance means ‘equal’ and we should not allow the mundane to equal the same as our service and our chanting. Factually speaking, when we live outside the āśrama there can be no balance because the mundane occupies 75% or more of our time and energy. So try to spend more time at the āśrama doing service, chanting, associating with devotees and discussing siddhānta. Then in the end, Kṛṣṇa will prevail in the heart.

WORK = NO TASTE FOR THE HOLY NAME!

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ervice to the Vaiṣṇava is very important if we want to progress in kṛṣṇa-bhajana. Service is not a lower thing like ‘work.’ Work, or karma, is something that is done with our own energy for our selfish interest. As it is said in Christianity, No one knows God through works alone. Work simply entangles one in material existence, and the result may be seen in that one has no real taste for the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa.

PAY ATTENTION!!

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e should look to little details. Every time I write Prabhupāda’s name, I make sure I spell it right. Every email, every letter, thousands of times. When you misspell your guru’s name, that’s probably the pinnacle of inattention. Pay attention! It’s the little things that count. As the Christians say, ‘The devils in the detail. Materially, spiritually, and everywhere in between. – attention! Pay attention to everything that you’re doing. Everything has value. Everything has importance.

WHAT ARE WE TAKING DARŚANA OF?

O

ne has to pay attention! If you pay attention while chanting the Name, then you will get Kṛṣṇa in the Name. But if you chant inattentively, you won’t get anything. If you come for darśana of the Deity and you approach with the idea that you are coming to see Kṛṣṇa and He will see you also – if you think like that, then you will see Kṛṣṇa. But if you don’t have any thinking and you don’t have any concentration on what you are looking at, then? I’ve seen people coming for darśana and you’re standing next to them and they say, “Nice siṁhāsana, Mahārāja!” They’re ’darśaning’ the siṁhāsana! Or they say, “Are those gold shoes?” They’re ’darśaning’ the gold, the silver, the carved wood!

The beginning stage is seeing Kṛṣṇa in the Deity, but that also requires some attention, some focus, some service attitude. And in a higher conception, Kṛṣṇa reveals Himself where? In the heart of a Vaiṣṇava. We are more concerned with that.

WITHOUT THE MERCY OF SADĀ-ŚIVA, ONE CANNOT GET KṚṢṆA-PREMA

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udra is not the Śiva that we worship on this day. Rudra is in charge of tamo-guṇa – he covers his body with ashes from the crematorium, he is always accompanied by many bhūtas (ghosts) and sometimes he wears a garland of skulls. Here on this side, the business of Lord Śiva is not palatable for the culture of devotion. But crossing beyond the material world, he is in a much higher position and worshipped as the greatest Vaiṣṇava…amongst the Vaiṣṇavas, he is Sadā-Śiva. Our Sanātana Gosvāmī has written that without the favour of Lord Śiva, no one can get kṛṣṇa-prema.”

‘GIVE TO LIVE’

Ś

rīla Śrīdhara Mahāraja used to say “Give to Live”. If we want to live in the land of eternity, we must learn how to give in this life. Giving is the greatest and most noble characteristic of a human being. Selfless giving is the foundation that we find common with all the residents of Vṛndāvana. We must give service. Service begins with hands and feet first, but really, it must come to the heart. For that service to be accepted by Kṛṣṇa, He wants us to give our heart, our love, our feeling.