Gopīnātha Paṭṭanāyaka’s Inner Character

Hare Krsna,

There are some standout characteristics of Gopinatha Pattanayaka’s inner character. The most amazing thing is that he was able to meditate upon the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at the time of extreme distress. It is not easy to remember the Lord (or for that matter anything else) when one’s life is at stake. I have learned that one can constantly meditate on the lotus feet of the Lord when one reaches the stage of samadhi.

This concentration of the mind upon the lotus feet of the Lord is called samādhi. Until one reaches the stage of samādhi, or trance, he cannot understand the nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Krsna book, 14)

The fact that Gopinatha could meditate on the lotus feet of the Lord proves that he has attained samadhi stage. Samadhi is the last of the eight limbs of yoga; the other seven are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana. This proves that Gopinath was a very advanced devotee of the Lord.

Another aspect of Gopinath’s inner character is his understanding about the futility of material opulence. This is proven by the following statement of Gopinatha:

However, my Lord, these are not the principal results of meditating upon Your lotus feet. Material opulence is very flickering. Therefore it is simply a glimpse of the result of Your mercy. Your real mercy has been granted to Rāmānanda Rāya and Vāṇīnātha Rāya, for You have detached them from all material opulence. I think that I have not been favored by such mercy. Kindly bestow upon me Your pure mercy so that I may also become renounced. I am no longer interested in material enjoyment.” (CC Antya 9.135-139)

A fearless characteristic of Gopinatha’s inner character is his taste for the Holy Name. When he was arrested and put on the canga, he was fearless and incessantly chanting the maha-mantra –  Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. He counted the chants on the fingers of both hands, and after he had finished chanting one thousand times, he would make a mark on his body. (CC Antya 9.56-57). No matter what the conditions are, a pure devotee always takes shelter of the Holy Name. This shows his complete faith on the potency of the Holy Name. He has completely realized that there is no difference between the Holy Name and the Supreme Lord. No wonder, Lord Caitanya was pleased by this act of Gopinatha.

Gopīnātha Paṭṭanāyaka was a pure devotee who worships the Lord only for His satisfaction. He did not care about his personal happiness or distress, for that is the business of a materialist. One who engages in devotional service twenty-four hours a day, desiring only the Lord’s mercy, will very soon attain shelter at His lotus feet. And that is what Gopinath has attained. He has attained the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord and His mercy too.

It is because of Lord Caitanya’s mercy that Gopinath’s debt was excused, was reappointed to his post, was honored with silken cloth, and had salary doubled. But being a pure devotee of the Lord, he did not desire any of this. All he prayed to the Lord for is to attain detachment from material enjoyment. In essence, he showed characteristic of pure devotional service to the Lord (anyabhilasita sunyam…)

My realization is that this is the external display and pastime of Lord Caitanya but internally He loves Gopinatha. Through this pastime, Mahaprabhu is teaching us that we should be careful with our duties and responsibilities; we should not owe anything to anyone. Through the example of Gopinatha, the Lord is teaching us this important instruction that is very relevant in modern times. He is teaching us how to use material opulence without incurring reactions to sinful life. From this advice, it appeared that the Lord encouraged Gopīnātha Paṭṭanāyaka to enhance his material condition. Actually, however, He did not. In fact, this was but a manifestation of His great affection for His devotee. (CC Antya 9.145)

It is therefore true that Lord Caitanya’s pastimes are sometimes inconceivable. The deep meaning of this behavior is very difficult to understand.

CC Antya 9.151-152 — The intentions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu are so deep that one can understand them only if he has complete faith in service to the lotus feet of the Lord. Whether or not one understands it, if one hears of this incident concerning the activities of Gopīnātha Paṭṭanāyaka and Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s causeless mercy upon him, certainly he will be promoted to the platform of ecstatic love for the Lord, and for him all dangers will be nullified.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Exclusive Devotion to the Lord

Hare Krsna,

My realization upon reading this lesson is that pure devotional service is very subtle and not so easily understood. The beauty about scriptures such as Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya Caritamrta is that they talk purely about pure devotional service. Pure devotional service, as a concept, is not so easy to get a grasp on. It has so many subtleties and fine nuances that it will take years and probably few lifetimes to realize it. A good analogy is vegetarian food. Different people have different conception of pure vegetarian food. For most Indians, onion and garlic fall under vegetarian food. Interestingly lots of Indians include eggs under vegetarian food. In extreme cases, some Bengalis in India and Bangladesh consider fish vegetarian. And what to speak about western people. They have a totally different idea about vegetarianism. I went to a restaurant once for breakfast and I asked what vegetarian items they have on the menu. The closest to something vegetarian they could guide me to is an omelet made of egg whites. If something so visible and physical object as vegetarian food could be so easily misunderstood, what to say about pure devotional service that is completely transcendental and not so easily perceived.

Most of us are engaging in devotional service unto the Lord, but how many of us are actually engaging in pure devotional service? Definitely not me. I am still trying to understand what pure devotional service it. My definition of pure devotional service is the following verse by Srila Rupa Goswami:

anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam

ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu- śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā

When first-class devotional service develops, one must be devoid of all material desires, knowledge obtained by monistic philosophy, and fruitive activities. The devotee must constantly serve Krsna favorably, as Krsna desires.

In general, I have an idea that pure devotional service must be without material desires, speculative knowledge, and fruitive activities. But have I truly realized it? Superficially I may say that I have no material expectations from the Lord. But is it truly the case? Is my intention so pure? The fact that I desire a comfortable and stable life to engage in my sadhana practice is not pure devotional service. This means somewhere in my heart there is an hidden desire that I desire some level of material comfort and conveniences. This is not pure devotional service. Therefore pure devotional service is not an easy status to achieve. To understand pure devotional service, we should be meditating on: who are such pure devotees? How do they behave? How do they reciprocate with the Lord? What do they pray the Lord for? What is their level of surrender and faith upon Lord Krsna? What is their mood? How do such pure devotees deal with each other? How does the Supreme Lord reciprocate the loving devotion of His pure devotees? Only when we meditate on these aspects of pure devotional service that we may get some idea of it. This is why it is so wonderful to read Srila Prabhupada’s books. They are a minefield of pure devotional service. I therefore consider Srila Prabhupada’s books as pure nectar. They are out of this world. They are truly transcendental. I will forever be indebted to him for his books.

Coming back to the pastime of this lesson, the lesson shows what the Lord thinks about devotees who have material desires and expectations. Lord Caitanya clearly says, “If I hear about the activities of materialistic persons, My mind becomes agitated. There is no need for Me to stay here and be disturbed in that way.” This is one great clue to how the Lord thinks about such persons with material expectation. It is clear the Lord does not like it very much if people approach Him for material benedictions. Of course as a Supreme all-loving father, He cares about us and loves us. But the love is pure when there is no hidden motive and agenda. And that is one aspect of pure devotional service. The Lord wants to love Him with complete devotion, and He loves to reciprocate with us in the same manner. Material desires are simply distractions in the loving reciprocation between the Lord and His devotees.

Srila Prabhupada provided a very beautiful purport in CC Antya 9.67-68: “Becoming a devotee of the Lord to serve material purposes is a great mistake. Many people become showbottle devotees for material profits. Indeed, materialistic persons sometimes take to professional devotional service and keep Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as a means of livelihood. None of this, however, is approved. In the book known as Sapta-śatī, as mentioned by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, one can discover how a person worshiping the goddess Durgā begs her for different varieties of material profit. Such activities are very popular among people in general, but they are the attempts of foolish, blind people.  materialist does not actually know why one should become a devotee.”

And then Srila Prabhupada goes on to explain pure devotional service: “A devotee’s only concern is to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead…One should be completely free from all material desires and should serve Kṛṣṇa simply to please Him. When people become interested in their own sense gratification, some of them desire to enjoy the material world to the fullest extent, some of them desire to be liberated and merge into the existence of Brahman, and others want to perform magic through mystic power and thus become incarnations of God. These are all against the principles of devotional service. One must be free from all material desires. The desire of the impersonalist to merge into the existence of Brahman is also material because such an impersonalist wants to gratify his senses by merging into the existence of Kṛṣṇa instead of serving His lotus feet. Even if such a person merges into the Brahman effulgence, he falls down again into material existence.”

We often talk about awakening our dormant love for Godhead. How do we do so? We can achieve this by pure devotional service.

If one engages in devotional service for Your satisfaction, this will result in his increasingly awakening his dormant love for You. But if one engages in Your devotional service for material purposes, he should be considered a number-one fool. It is only for Your sake that Rāmānanda Rāya resigned from the governorship of South India and Sanātana Gosvāmī gave up his post as minister. It is for Your sake that Raghunātha dāsa gave up all his family relationships. His father sent money and men here to serve him. However, because he has received the mercy of Your lotus feet, he does not even accept his father’s money. Instead he eats by begging alms from centers for the distribution of food.” (CC Antya 9.69-72)

Pure devotional service is such a great treasure that personalities such as Sanatana Goswami, Rupa Goswami, Ramananda Raya, Raghunatha Dasa Goswami, etc. gave up all material things  to achieve that state of pure love of Godhead. But we try to forsake our rightful claim to dormant love of Godhead just to fulfill few material desires. What a misfortune?

If we can learn to engage in pure devotional service, then we can claim our rightful unalloyed love for Godhead. It is our rightful claim. No one can deny it to us.

“‘One who seeks Your compassion and thus tolerates all kinds of adverse conditions due to the karma of his past deeds, who engages always in Your devotional service with his mind, words and body, and who always offers obeisances unto You is certainly a bona fide candidate for becoming Your unalloyed devotee.’ ” (SB 10.14.8)

This lesson explains the refined sentiment of exclusive devotion to the Lord in all circumstances so beautifully. Gopinatha Pattanayaka’s life was at stake; but he did not cry out to the Lord for help. Rather he was fearlessly, incessantly chanting the mahā-mantra — Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. He counted the chants on the fingers of both hands, and after he had finished chanting one thousand times, he would make a mark on his body. It is the other devotees who showed concern for him. This is an example of pure devotional service – the ability to give up one’s life but not disturb the Lord for mitigation of material distress. Gopinatha is a pure devotee who worships the Lord only for His satisfaction. He does not care about his personal happiness or distress, for that is the business of a materialist.

One who engages in pure devotional service to the Lord twenty-four hours a day, desiring only His mercy, will very soon attain shelter at His lotus feet.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

The Essential Concept of Pleasing the Spiritual Master

Hare Krsna,

The pastime between Lord Caitanya and Ramachandra Puri is very instructive to understand the concept of pleasing the spiritual master. Madhavendra Puri had two disciples – Isvara Puri and Ramachandra Puri. Isvara Puri served and satisfied his spiritual master so wonderfully that he received the benediction from Madhavendra Puri that he would be a great devotee and lover of Krsna. And this is no ordinary benediction. Isvara Puri became the spiritual master of none other than the Supreme Personality Himself – Lord Caitanya. Could there be a better benediction than this?

On the other hand Ramachandra Puri, due to his offense to his spiritual master, received such a rebuke and rejection from Madhavendra Puri that became a dry speculator and a critic of everyone else. So much so that he started to find faults with Lord Caitanya. But Lord Caitanya is so merciful that He did not consider Ramacandra Puri’s offenses. Rather He treated him like his spiritual master. The Lord took Ramacandra Puri’s criticism of His eating habits as an instruction to control His eating. And the Lord duly complied.

CC Antya 8.99-100 — If one’s spiritual master rejects him, one becomes so fallen that he, like Rāmacandra Purī, commits offenses even to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu did not consider the offenses of Rāmacandra Purī, for the Lord considered him His spiritual master. However, his character instructed everyone about the result of offending the spiritual master.

I do not have an initiating spiritual master yet. I hope Lord Caitanya blesses me with one soon. Therefore I hardly have any realizations about serving my diksa-guru and pleasing him. But I will equate pleasing both instructing and initiating spiritual masters on the same level. We must note that we can serve our spirituals masters in two aspects – vapu and vani. Vapu means rendering physical service to the spiritual master. Vani means following the instructions of the spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada could not serve his spiritual master Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur personally. But he served him in words and spirit. This shows that vani is more important then vapu.  This is a very important concept to understand.

Just follow his order. Spiritual master is along with you by his words. Just like my spiritual master is not physically present, but I am associating with him by his words.” (Srila Prabhupada lecture on SB 1.1.2)

All the scriptures recommend that it is by pleasing the spiritual master and serving him directly that one can attain the highest perfectional stage of devotional service.

SB 4.28.34 Purport: Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaḥ. A disciple should always remember that by serving the spiritual master he can easily advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. All the scriptures recommend that it is by pleasing the spiritual master and serving him directly that one can attain the highest perfectional stage of devotional service.

By satisfying the spiritual master, one automatically satisfies Kṛṣṇa. Thus the devotee becomes enriched by both the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa. In CC Madhya 19.151, Lord Caitanya says guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja. One must first please the spiritual master, and then one automatically pleases Kṛṣṇa and gets the strength with which to cross the ocean of nescience. If one seriously desires to return home, back to Godhead, one must therefore become strong enough by pleasing the spiritual master, for thus one gets the weapon with which to conquer the enemy, and one also gets the grace of Kṛṣṇa.

Narada Bhakti Sutra 8, Purport: By the divine grace of the spiritual master, the seed of pure devotional service, which is completely different from the seed of fruitive activities and speculative knowledge, is sown in the heart of the devotee. Then, when the devotee satisfies the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa, this seed of devotional service grows into a plant that gradually reaches up to the spiritual world. An ordinary plant requires shelter for growing. Similarly, the devotional plant grows and grows until it takes shelter in the spiritual world, without taking shelter on any planet in the material world. In other words, those who are captivated by pure devotional service have no desire to elevate themselves to any material planet. The highest planet in the spiritual world is Kṛṣṇa-loka, or Goloka Vṛndāvana, and there the devotional plant takes shelter.

The essential principle of pleasing the spiritual master is to follow his instructions closely. Srila Prabhupada has instructed us to chant sixteen rounds of Hare Krsna mahamantra, and follow the four regulative principles. We must first do that sincerely. His next instruction to us is to read his books regularly. I personally read his books every day. Besides the CC study, I read Srimad Bhagavatam every day at least for 30 minutes. I do not understand or remember everything that I read. But I hope that at least my endeavor and determination to read his books on a daily basis pleases Srila Prabhupada.

This lesson (on Ramacandra Puri criticizing the Lord) should be remembered by us always. It teaches us the basic and most fundamental concept of pleasing the spiritual master, and the risks of displeasing him.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

The Results of Offending Vaiṣṇavas

Hare Krsna,

Ramacandra Puri’s offenses in trying to instruct his spiritual master, Srila Madhavendra Puri are closely similar to the offenses related to the chantinging the Holy Name:

  1. To blaspheme the devotees who have dedicated their lives to propagating the Holy Name of the Lord
  2. To disobey the orders of the spiritual master.

A spiritual master is a representative of the Supreme Lord and thereby have to be accorded the same respect as given to the Lord. The spiritual master must be treated non-different than the Supreme Lord. Ramacandra, possibly due to impersonalist influence, was either not aware of or forgot this basic tattva. Hence he ended up committing the unthinkable offense.

Generally when a pure devotee is about to leave his body, his disciples and other devotees drown in extreme lamentation and sorrow in thinking about the impending separation from their beloved spiritual master. I have watched the videos of our dearest Srila Prabhupada’s recording during the last few days of his life while leaving his body. Devotees surrounded him, tried to make him feel comfortable, and chanted the Holy Name of the Lord so that Srila Prabhupada can depart in the most exalted way. Just watching the videos make my eyes swell up. I cannot imagine what his disciples felt at the time Srila Prabhupada was about to leave his body. This is the recommended mood of the devotee. So I wonder what made Ramacandra Puri not go through these emotions, but dare to instruct his spiritual master? May be this is another inconceivable pastime of the Lord.

As soon as Ramacandra Puri instructed his spiritual master, he was rebuked by Madhavendra Puri.

CC Antya 8.22-25 — Hearing this instruction, Mādhavendra Purī, greatly angry, rebuked him by saying, “Get out, you sinful rascal! O my Lord Kṛṣṇa, I could not reach You, nor could I reach Your abode, Mathurā. I am dying in my unhappiness, and now this rascal has come to give me more pain. Don’t show your face to me! Go anywhere else you like. If I die seeing your face, I shall not achieve the destination of my life. I am dying without achieving the shelter of Kṛṣṇa, and therefore I am greatly unhappy. Now this condemned foolish rascal has come to instruct me about Brahman.”

CC Antya 8.26 — Rāmacandra Purī was thus denounced by Mādhavendra Purī. Due to his offense, gradually material desire appeared within him.

CC Antya 8.27 — One who is attached to dry speculative knowledge has no relationship with Kṛṣṇa. His occupation is criticizing Vaiṣṇavas. Thus he is situated in criticism.

The result of the offense is that gradually material desires appeared within him. In order word, he felt into the trap of the Lord’s illusory energy maya. If we please the Lord and His pure devotees, we come under His internal energy. If we displease the Lord and His pure devotees, we fall under the illusory energy. Maya makes one forget his real constitutional position, and rather makes him think that he is the enjoyer and the lord of the universe. In this way, one’s false ego continues to grow bigger and bigger until one starts to think Himself God. This is the last snare of Maya.

Since we are on the topic of maya, I want to share something about maya that I read recently from the Bhagavad Sandardha (Section 18) by Jiva Goswami.

Srila Jiva Gosvami says that Maya can be divided in two categories based on her functions. The two examples in the verse (S.B. 2.9.33) explain these two features. The first feature is called jivamaya, or the feature of Maya that covers the svarupa of the living entity. This is also called nimitta, or the efficient part, owing to its being instrumental in covering the living entity with ignorance. But it is not sufficient to cover the nature or intelligence of the living entity. To make the bondage perfect she gives the material body, senses, and sense objects for the enjoyment of the jiva. This is called gunamaya, because all this paraphernalia is a transformation of the modes (guna) of Maya. This feature is also called upadana, or the material aspect, because it supplies the material ingredients. Just as when a man goes to a nightclub first he gets intoxicated which covers his intelligence (jivamaya) then he gets allured by sense objects, such as a young woman, (gunamaya). That makes his illusion complete. In this way the attack of Maya is two-fold–internal and external. The two features complement and strengthen each other. Thus it is impossible for a conditioned soul to get out of her clutches without superior help.

I can relate the above explanations to Ramacandra Puri. Jivamaya made him forget his real svarupa – that he is the eternal servant of the Supreme Lord and his spiritual master. Basically jivamaya covered his intelligence. This lack of intelligence made him try to instruct his spiritual master. Next Gunamaya made him find faults in others as can be seen by his tendency to find faults in the Vaisnavas eating habits.

The trap of maya is very dangerous. First Ramacandra Puri offended his spiritual master. Due to this offense, he lost his intelligence and started offending the vaisnavas. And finally he also criticized the Supreme Lord. What could be worse offense than this? Only Lord Caitanya’s compassionate and limitless mercy could save him.

Therefore an important lesson to learn from this pastime is never to criticize the devotees, the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord. In fact we should practice not to criticize anyone. We should remember that the Supreme Lord resides in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul. By criticizing the vaisnavas, we impede our spiritual progress. As aspiring devotees we cannot afford to commit this risk. After millions of lifetimes, we got the rare opportunity to practice Krsna consciousness. Why commit offenses and lose this rare treasure?


All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

The Importance of Following the Paramparā

Hare Krsna,

First of all, I want to thank our teacher HG Dhruva Maharaj prabhu for sharing the controversy regarding Caitanya-Caritamrta’s descriptions of Vallabha Bhatta. The discussion with Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sumati Morarji is very enlightening.

There is a common theme running in the two pastimes – Lord Caitanya’s confrontation with Vallabha Bhatta and later on the discussion between Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sumati Morarji. The theme is a strong defense of one’s parampara system. Caitanya Mahaprabhu was right in defending His (and our) previous acaryas including Sridhara Swami. Sri Sumati Morarji was also right in her place to defend her Vallabha sampradaya. And Srila Prabhupada was also right in defending Lord Caitanya’s position with respect to his discussion with Vallabha Bhatta. This, in essence, shows the importance of following one’s own parampara in the Indian vedic system. Allegiance to one’s parampara is rooted deeply in Indian vedic culture, especially to those following the religious principles strictly. Unfortunately not so much in modern India. It is very common in India for someone visiting well-established religious institutions to be asked, “What sampradaya do you belong to?” This is a very valid question and proves the authenticity of both the questioner and the responder.

People who have closely read Srila Prabhupada’s books would have encountered the importance of following the parampara system numerous times in his books. This concept is not invented by Srila Prabhupada. It has come down to us through ages starting from Lord Krsna. In BG 4.2, Lord Krsna says: “This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.”

What is the parampara system? “Any question that is put forward may be answered by quoting the authority, and that satisfies the saner section. That is the system even in the law court. The best lawyer gives evidence from the past judgment of the court without taking much trouble to establish his case. This is called the paramparā system, and learned authorities follow it without manufacturing rubbish interpretations.” (SB 2.10.51 Purport)

In the parampara system, the questions are bonafide and the answers are bonafide. Everything quoted is based on guru, sadhu and sastra. There is no room for misinterpretation. All knowledge came from Lord Krsna. He imparted this to Lord Brahma, Lord Brahma to Narada, Narada to Vyasadeva, and down to us through the chain of disciplic succession. The Supreme Lord is Absolute Truth and knowledge imparted through Him is also Absolute in nature. What is the need, or allowance, for someone to manufacture something or deviate from the original knowledge? It is therefore important to follow the parampara system strictly. The parampara system does not allow one to deviate from the commentaries of the previous acaryas.

Therefore Lord Caitanya taught us a very important lesson about strictly abiding by our parampara. When Vallabha Bhatta wanted to refute the commentaries of Sridhara Swami, Lord Caitanya replied:

“One who does not accept the svāmī [husband] as an authority I consider a prostitute.” (CC Antya 7.115-119)

What is actually happening is that Vallabha Bhatta was not accepting the parampara system by ignoring Sridhara Swami’s commentaries.

To which, the Lord further went on to explain to Vallabha Bhatta:

CC Antya 7.131-134 — “You are both a greatly learned scholar and a great devotee. Wherever there are two such attributes, there cannot be a mountain of false pride. You have dared criticize Śrīdhara Svāmī, and you have begun your own commentary on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, not accepting his authority. That is your false pride. Śrīdhara Svāmī is the spiritual master of the entire world because by his mercy we can understand Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. I therefore accept him as a spiritual master. Whatever you might write due to false pride, trying to surpass Śrīdhara Svāmī, would carry a contrary purport. Therefore no one would pay attention to it.

CC Antya 7.135-137 — “One who comments on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam following in the footsteps of Śrīdhara Svāmī will be honored and accepted by everyone. Put forth your explanation of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam following in the footsteps of Śrīdhara Svāmī. Giving up your false pride, worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. Abandoning your offenses, chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, the holy names of the Lord. Then very soon you will achieve shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.”

This is an important lesson for all of us. Whenever we quote something, it should be based upon bonafide scriptures. I remember when I started the CC study 2 years ago and would quote something in the forum posts, our teacher Dhruva Maharaja prabhu would immediately ask, “What is the source of my statement?” If I happened to quote something that is outside of our parampara system, he would correct me. It happened quite a number of times. From then on, I understood the importance of following the parampara system.

Coming back to the discussion between Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sumati Morarji, Srila Prabhupada wonderfully defended the Back to Godhead article by quoting the CC passage on Lord Caitanya’s instructions to Vallabha Bhatta. Being a genuine leader, Srila Prabhupada did not try to avoid Sri Sumati Morarji’s letter. He responded with facts and figures. I haven’t read that specific Back to Godhead article. I am not even sure we have access to it now. But I wonder why hadn’t the author and/or the editors quote Lord Caitanya’s instructions to Vallabha Bhatta in the article in the first place? This would have avoided all the needless controversies.

yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau

tasyaite kathitā hy arthā prakāśante mahātmanaḥ

(ŚU 6.23)

“The real import of the scriptures is revealed to one who has unflinching faith in both the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the spiritual master.” Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura advises, sādhu-śāstra-guru-vākya, hṛdaye kariyā aikya. The meaning of this instruction is that one must consider the instructions of the sādhu, the revealed scriptures and the spiritual master in order to understand the real purpose of spiritual life. Neither a sādhu (saintly person or Vaiṣṇava) nor a bona fide spiritual master says anything that is beyond the scope of the sanction of the revealed scriptures. Thus the statements of the revealed scriptures correspond to those of the bona fide spiritual master and saintly persons. One must therefore act with reference to these three important sources of understanding. (CC Adi 7.48 Purport).

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Tactics with Vallabha Bhaṭṭa

Hare Krsna,

CC Antya 7.53 — Knowing that Vallabha Bhaṭṭa’s heart was full of pride, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu spoke these words, hinting at how one can learn about devotional service. [Vallabha Bhaṭṭa was thinking:] “I am a great Vaiṣṇava. Having learned all the conclusions of Vaiṣṇava philosophy, I can understand the meaning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and explain it very well.” Such pride had existed for a long time within the mind of Vallabha Bhaṭṭa, but as he heard the preaching of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, his pride was cut down.

Lord Caitanya, being the Supreme Lord of all living and non-living entities, does not want His devotees to be proud of anything. In BG 16.4, Lord Krsna tells Arjuna

“Arrogance, pride, anger, conceit, harshness and ignorance-these qualities belong to those of demonic nature, O son of Prtha.”

During the rasa dance when the gopis felt proud of their good fortune of being able to dance with Lord Krsna, Lord Krsna disappeared from the scene. He did so to make the pride of the gopis go away. Similarly in this instance, Lord Caitanya did not appreciate Vallabha Bhatta’s pride, and wanted to cut it down. In a way, Lord Caitanya was telling him that “You may be proud of your limited knowledge, but there is something higher than this. Don’t be so proud of yourself.” In a way, this is also the Lord’s mercy upon Vallabha Bhatta by bestowing upon him the true knowledge of pure devotional service.

As I meditated upon this tactic employed by Lord Caitanya, I cannot marvel enough the utter humility of the Lord. He is so humble that never once did He mention that all knowledge emanates from Him. Lord Caitanya did not tell Vallabha Bhatta that he should believe the Lord simply because the Lord is telling him. On the other hand, the Lord gives credits to His devotees by mentioning that He learned about pure devotional service from His devotees. The Lord attributes His understanding of devotional service to the following devotees:

CC Antya 7.38-39:  “The transcendental mellows of ecstatic love are personified by Svarūpa Dāmodara. By his association I have understood Vṛndāvana’s transcendental mellow of conjugal love. The unalloyed love of the gopīs and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is without any trace of material lust. The criterion of such transcendental love is that its only purpose is to satisfy Kṛṣṇa.”

CC Antya 7.16-19: “I have no chance of knowing what kṛṣṇa-bhakti is. Nevertheless, My mind has become purified because I have associated with Advaita Ācārya…”

CC Antya 7.20-22: “Lord Nityānanda Prabhu, the avadhūta, is also directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is always intoxicated with the madness of ecstatic love. Indeed, He is an ocean of love of Kṛṣṇa.”

CC Antya 7.20-22: “Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya perfectly knows the six philosophical theses. He is therefore the spiritual master of the entire world in teaching the six paths of philosophy.”

CC Antya 7.23-24: “Rāmānanda Rāya is the ultimate knower of the transcendental mellows of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s devotional service. He has instructed Me that Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Through the mercy of Rāmānanda Rāya, I have understood that ecstatic love of Kṛṣṇa is the highest goal of life and that spontaneous love of Kṛṣṇa is the highest perfection.”

CC Antya 7.45-46: “Completely distinct from love of Kṛṣṇa in opulence, pure love of Kṛṣṇa is on the highest level. On the surface of the world there is no devotee greater than Uddhava. Uddhava desires to take on his head the dust of the gopīs’ lotus feet. I have learned about all these transcendental loving affairs of Lord Kṛṣṇa from Svarūpa Dāmodara.”

CC Antya 7.48-52: “Haridāsa Ṭhākura, the teacher of the holy name, is the most exalted of all pure devotees. Every day he chants 300,000 holy names of the Lord. I have learned about the glories of the Lord’s holy name from Haridāsa Ṭhākura, and by his mercy I have understood these glories. Ācāryaratna, Ācāryanidhi, Gadādhara Paṇḍita, Jagadānanda, Dāmodara, Śaṅkara, Vakreśvara, Kāśīśvara, Mukunda, Vāsudeva, Murāri and many other devotees have descended in Bengal to preach to everyone the glories of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa and the value of love for Him. I have learned from them the meaning of devotional service to Kṛṣṇa.”

In this way, Lord Caitanya proves the supremacy of pure devotional service by quoting scriptural references. He quotes both the sastra as well as His pure devotees. This is a great lesson for us, especially for those engaged in preaching. A preacher should always support his statements from guru, sadhu and sastra. There is no question of “I think so.” Every statement must be based upon scripture. I am therefore amazed that Lord Caitanya did not mention that He is the Supreme Lord Himself. He truly exemplified the mood of a pure devotee and did not pretend to be a master and knower of everything. He very humble said to Vallabha Bhatta “My dear Vallabha Bhaṭṭa, you are a learned scholar. Kindly listen to Me. I am a sannyāsī of the Māyāvāda school. Therefore I have no chance of knowing what kṛṣṇa-bhakti is.”

In this way, the Lord taught us how to live by this particular teaching trnad api sunicena taror iva sahisnuna. One should be more humble than a grass and more tolerant than a tree. One should not expect personal honor but must be always prepared to give all respect to others. Only then can one chant the holy name of the Lord. (Siksastaka 3)

On another note, I realized that Vallabha Bhatta was unaware of Lord Caitanya’s true position. In couple of places, he said “Therefore it is evident that You have been empowered by Lord Kṛṣṇa” and “There may be many all-auspicious incarnations of the Personality of Godhead, but who other than Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa can bestow love of God upon the surrendered souls?’ ” His statements reflect that he thinks Lord Caitanya and Lord Krsna are different. Otherwise why would he mention that Lord Caitanya is empowered by Lord Krsna? The truth is Lord Caitanya and Lord Krsna are non-different, and the same Supreme Personality of Godhead

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Bestows His Mercy Upon Raghunātha dāsa

Hare Krsna,

In BG 4.11, Lord Krsna says: “All of them—as they surrender unto Me—I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha.”

By complete surrender to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Raghunath dasa became the most fit candidate to receive the Lord’s mercy. Why wouldn’t he? After all he did everything that is expected from a sincere devotee of the Lord. He renounced his unlimited family wealth. Being the only heir to his rich parents, he could have lived an exclusive opulent life. But he left everything behind to take shelter of the Lord. After taking shelter, Raghunath stopped taking the prasadam prepared by the Lord’s personal servant Govinda. Rather he would go to the Simha-dvara gate to beg for alms to eat. After sometime he even stopped this practice and went to the charity booth to beg for his alms. Why? Because Lord Caitanya disapproved of anyone standing at Simha-dvara for food because the behavior resembled that of a prostitute. What kind of food did Raghunath dasa receive from the shopkeepers at the booth? He received the decomposed food – food that even the cows cannot it. He even gave up his good set of clothes for a set of small torn cloth and a patchwork wrapper.

While these are external forms of renunciation, we should not forget the internal renunciation he went through. He spent more than twenty-two hours out of every twenty-four chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and remembering the lotus feet of the Lord. He ate and slept for less than an hour and a half, and on some days that also was impossible. He never allowed his tongue sense gratification.

Raghunath dasa displayed extreme example of renunciation. In essence, he became a fully surrendered soul unto the lotus feet of the Lord. Thus he became a perfect candidate to receive Lord’s mercy. What mercy did the Lord bestow upon him?

CC Antya 6.287-289 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu again bestowed His mercy upon Raghunātha dāsa by giving him a stone from Govardhana Hill and a garland of small conchshells. Previously, when Śaṅkarānanda Sarasvatī had returned from Vṛndāvana, he had brought the stone from Govardhana Hill and also the garland of conchshells. He presented Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu with these two items — the garland of conchshells and the stone from Govardhana Hill.

These items were very dear to the Lord, and He handed over these precious items to Raghunath dasa.

CC Antya 6.290-292 — Upon receiving these two uncommon items, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was extremely happy. While chanting, He would put the garland around His neck. The Lord would put the stone to His heart or sometimes to His eyes. Sometimes He would smell it with His nose and sometimes place it on His head. The stone from Govardhana was always moist with tears from His eyes. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu would say, “This stone is directly the body of Lord Kṛṣṇa.”

Raghunath dasa, in return, forever felt grateful to the Supreme Lord. He composed a very beautiful prayer to express his gratitude.

CC Antya 6.327 — “Although I am a fallen soul, the lowest of men, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu delivered me from the blazing forest fire of great material opulence by His mercy. He handed me over in great pleasure to Svarūpa Dāmodara, His personal associate. The Lord also gave me the garland of small conchshells that He wore on His chest and a stone from Govardhana Hill, although they were very dear to Him. That same Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu awakens within my heart and makes me mad after Him.”  (Sri Gauraṅga-stava-kalpavṛkṣa (11)

While I meditated on Raghunath dasa’s good fortune and compared with mine, I felt utter dejection. I felt that I am neither renounced nor qualified for Lord Caitanya’s mercy. This would a common sentiment for most of the serious conditioned souls who are yearning for the Lord’s mercy. But then through the inspiration of the Paramatma residing within me, I realized that I shouldn’t beat myself up on this. If we observe closely, we will see that we all are recipients of Lord’s unconditional mercy. Lord Krsna came to bestow on us what was never bestowed before. In the form of Lord Caitanya, He came to distribute the transcendental love of Godhead freely through the sankirtana movement (congregational chanting of the Holy Name). Not just any love of Godhead, but the love of highest order. He appeared to give us the mellow of conjugal love.

CC Adi 7.18-19: The internal devotees or potencies are all eternal associates in the pastimes of the Lord. Only with them does the Lord advent to propound the saṅkīrtana movement, only with them does the Lord taste the mellow of conjugal love, and only with them does He distribute this love of God to people in general.

CC Ādi 7.20-21 — The characteristics of Kṛṣṇa are understood to be a storehouse of transcendental love. Although that storehouse of love certainly came with Kṛṣṇa when He was present, it was sealed. But when Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came with His associates of the Pañca-tattva, they broke the seal and plundered the storehouse to taste transcendental love of Kṛṣṇa. The more they tasted it, the more their thirst for it grew.

CC Ādi 7.23 — In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Pañca-tattva distributed love of Godhead.

So we should consider ourselves extremely fortunate, and the Lord extremely merciful upon us. The Lord did not even prescribe strict conditions as He did to Ragunatha dasa. All we have to do is follow the four regulative principles strictly and chant the Holy Name as much as possible.

To end, I would like to take the unwelcome liberty of tweaking Raghunath dasa’s prayer for my own selfish need.

“Although I am a fallen soul, the lowest of men, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu delivered me from the blazing forest fire of great material opulence by His mercy. He handed me over in great pleasure to Srila Prabhupada, His eternal associate. The Lord also gave me the garland of Hare Krsna mahamanta that He wore on His chest and conjugal love of Godhead, although they were very dear to Him. That same Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu awakens within my heart and makes me mad after Him.”

It would be my misfortune not to take advantage of the Krsna consciousness movement. I pray to the Lord so that I may dedicate rest of my life fully to follow Lord Caitanya’s teachings and instructions.

All glories to Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Lord Caitanya’s Instructions to Raghunātha dāsa

Hare Krsna,

CC Antya 6.222-227 — When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu heard this, He was greatly satisfied. “Raghunātha dāsa has done well,” He said. “He has acted suitably for a person in the renounced order. A person in the renounced order should always chant the holy name of the Lord. He should beg some alms to eat, and he should sustain his life in this way. A vairāgī [a person in the renounced order] should not depend on others. If he does so, he will be unsuccessful, and he will be neglected by Kṛṣṇa. If a renunciant is eager for his tongue to taste different foods, his spiritual life will be lost, and he will be subservient to the tastes of his tongue. The duty of a person in the renounced order is to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra always. He should satisfy his belly with whatever vegetables, leaves, fruits and roots are available. One who is subservient to the tongue and who thus goes here and there, devoted to the genitals and the belly, cannot attain Kṛṣṇa.”

When I read/heard the above verse, two verses from Nectar of Instruction immediately came to my mind.

NOI 1: A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.

NOI 2: One’s devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) over-endeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements.

In essence, Lord Caitanya is instructing Raghunath dasa to control his senses. Controlling one’s senses completely is true sign of renunciation. Just wearing a saffron cloth, moving to a temple, and giving up family relationship is not real renunciation. What is the use of all these detachments if the mind is still attached to sense objects? Therefore the first instruction of NOI is to control one’s mind. In fact, real spiritual progress happens after one is able to control the mind.

The meaning of ‘mantra’ is to deliver the mind. What is the magic pill given to us to control the mind? It’s the chanting of the mahamantra. One should chant the holy name as many times as possible to control the mind.

While we practice controlling the mind, we also need to practice controlling the tongue. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur says, “Jive phele visaya sagar e”. The tongue is the one that binds us to the ocean of material nescience. If we observe closely, we will notice how strongly the tongue binds us to sense objects. The taste for good food and drinks drags us to bars and restaurants. The urge to speak nonsense binds us to prajalpa (mundane talk). The actions of lust, anger and greed are manifested through the tongue. We get angry and our tongue curses someone. I compare the tongue to a mad elephant that wants to run loose and trample on our devotional creeper. Two of our regulative principles – no meat eating and no intoxication – is related to the tongue. Thus we see what a spiritual havoc the tongue can create.

 What is the solution to control the tongue? Chanting the holy name and eating prasadam. In NOI 1 purport, Srila Prabhupada writes:

“As for the urges of the tongue, we all experience that the tongue wants to eat palatable dishes. Generally we should not allow the tongue to eat according to its choice, but should control the tongue by supplying prasāda. The devotee’s attitude is that he will eat only when Kṛṣṇa gives him prasāda. That is the way to control the urge of the tongue. One should take prasāda at scheduled times and should not eat in restaurants or sweetmeat shops simply to satisfy the whims of the tongue or belly. If we stick to the principle of taking only prasāda, the urges of the belly and tongue can be controlled.”

Therefore Lord Caitanya’s instructions to Raghunath dasa centers a lot around the need to control the tongue as we can see in the following verses.

CC Antya 6.222-227: “If a renunciant is eager for his tongue to taste different foods, his spiritual life will be lost, and he will be subservient to the tastes of his tongue. The duty of a person in the renounced order is to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra always. He should satisfy his belly with whatever vegetables, leaves, fruits and roots are available. One who is subservient to the tongue and who thus goes here and there, devoted to the genitals and the belly, cannot attain Kṛṣṇa.”

CC Antya 6.233-239: “Do not talk like people in general or hear what they say. You should not eat very palatable food, nor should you dress very nicely. Do not expect honor, but offer all respect to others. Always chant the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and within your mind render service to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana. I have briefly given you My instructions.”

What lessons can I personally draw from Lord Caitanya’s instructions? I need to control my tongue when it comes to eating good food. I have a tendency to eat something every few hours. This is less due to hunger and more to do with bad habit cultivated over the years. Years ago, my fitness trainer recommended that I eat something every couple of hours to keep up the metabolism rate. I guess the habit started with that. What worked well for material life will not work for spiritual life. Therefore I need to control my tongue better when it comes to eating. Due to my reserved introverted nature, the urge to engage in mundane talk is not much of an issue for me. I prefer being quiet than talking. If I can control my urge to eat, I will make great advancement in spiritual life. I am glad that by writing this forum post, I could come to this realization.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Sanātana Gosvāmī’s Oozing Sores and Lord Caitanya’s Reciprocation

Hare Krsna,

The verses from this lesson contains some deep philosophy. There are few themes that came to my mind as I read and meditated on these verses. I can relate some of these teachings to verse 6 of Nectar of Instruction.

The first theme that came to my mind is related to the discussions between Jagadananda Pandita and Sanatana Goswami. As we know, Jagadananda Pandita advised Sanatana Goswami to reside in Vrindavana dhama. However Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not appreciate this advice and chastised Jagadananda Pandita. He said:

““Jagā [Jagadānanda Paṇḍita] is only a new boy, but he has become so proud that he thinks himself competent to advise a person like you. In affairs of spiritual advancement and even in ordinary dealings, you are on the level of his spiritual master. Yet not knowing his own value, he dares to advise you. My dear Sanātana, you are on the level of My advisor, for you are an authorized person. But Jagā wants to advise you. This is but the impudence of a naughty boy.” (CC Antya 4.157-160)

This is important lesson for us to learn. We should refrain from advising senior and advanced devotees, and especially our spiritual masters. It is an offense to consider them on the same level as us. We should always remain humble and consider ourselves as specks of dust at their lotus feet.

“It is also an offense to consider an empowered Vaiṣṇava an object of disciplinary action. It is offensive to try to give him advice or to correct him. One can distinguish between a neophyte Vaiṣṇava and an advanced Vaiṣṇava by their activities. The advanced Vaiṣṇava is always situated as the spiritual master, and the neophyte is always considered his disciple. The spiritual master must not be subjected to the advice of a disciple, nor should a spiritual master be obliged to take instructions from those who are not his disciples.” (NOI 6)

The second theme of my realization pertains to the discussion between Lord Caitanya and Sanatana Goswami on the distinction between material bodies and spiritual bodies. I see no reason why Sanatana Goswami would contract a skin disease. He is a pure devotee of the Lord and appeared on this planet to fulfill Lord Caitanya’s mission. But the Lord is inconceivable and wanted to teach us something through this pastime. The chief lesson for us is to understand that the body of a pure devotee is never material, but transcendental. By the dint of devotional service, they are able to transform their body, mind, and words from material to spiritual.

“The body of a karmī is called material because the karmī, being too absorbed in material activities, is always eager to enjoy material facilities, but the body of a devotee who tries his best to work very hard for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa by fully engaging in the Lord’s service must be accepted as transcendental. Whereas karmīs are interested only in the personal satisfaction of their senses, devotees work for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. Therefore one who cannot distinguish between devotion and ordinary karma may mistakenly consider the body of a pure devotee material. One who knows does not commit such a mistake. Nondevotees who consider devotional activities and ordinary material activities to be on the same level are offenders to the chanting of the transcendental holy name of the Lord. A pure devotee knows that a devotee’s body, being always transcendental, is just suitable for rendering service to the Lord.” (CC Antya 4.171-173)

We have also learned this from ‘Nectar of Instruction’. Text 6 of NOI says:

“Being situated in his original Kṛṣṇa conscious position, a pure devotee does not identify with the body. Such a devotee should not be seen from a materialistic point of view. Indeed, one should overlook a devotee’s having a body born in a low family, a body with a bad complexion, a deformed body, or a diseased or infirm body. According to ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem prominent in the body of a pure devotee, but despite such seeming defects, the body of a pure devotee cannot be polluted. It is exactly like the waters of the Ganges, which sometimes during the rainy season are full of bubbles, foam and mud. The Ganges waters do not become polluted. Those who are advanced in spiritual understanding will bathe in the Ganges without considering the condition of the water.”

How wonderful is Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. The Lord instructs in one book (NOI) and personally explains this as a pastime in another book (CC). Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya Caritamrta are full of such teachings of the Lord in the form of beautiful and enriching pastimes.

One may ask how can a devotee transform his body from material to spiritual? The answer lies in BG 14.26: ““One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.”

“If we consider the bodily defects of a Vaiṣṇava, we should understand that we are committing an offense at the lotus feet of the Vaiṣṇava. An offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava is very serious. Indeed, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has described this offense as hātī-mātā, the mad elephant offense. A mad elephant can create a disaster, especially when it enters into a nicely trimmed garden. One should therefore be very careful not to commit any offense against a Vaiṣṇava.” (NOI 6)

My last realization is about humility. Sometimes due to our material conditioning, we think we have become advanced devotees just by engaging in little bit of devotional service, or by being in the Krsna consciousness movement for many years. I have heard senior devotees say, “I have been in this movement for 40+ years, or I have been chanting the holy name for many years.” This is not a sign of advancement in Krsna consciousness. True advancement lies in considering humble and unfit for devotional service. Srila Prabhupada never felt proud of his pure devotee status; he would always say that he is very insignificant and just a humble servant of his spiritual master.

“A devotee on the topmost platform of devotional service always humbly thinks that he is not rendering any devotional service. He thinks that he is poor in devotional service and that his body is material. On the other hand, those known as the sahajiyās foolishly think that their material bodies are transcendental. Because of this, they are always bereft of the association of pure devotees, and thus they cannot behave like Vaiṣṇavas. Observing the defects of the sahajiyās, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has sung as follows in his book Kalyāṇa-kalpataru: “ ‘If I think I am a Vaiṣṇava, I shall look forward to receiving respect from others. And if the desire for fame and reputation pollutes my heart, certainly I shall go to hell. By giving others the remnants of my food, I shall consider myself superior and shall be burdened with the weight of false pride. Therefore, always remaining your surrendered disciple, I shall not accept worship from anyone else.’” (CC Antya 4.171-173 Purport)

Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has written (Antya-līlā 20.28): “ ‘Wherever there is a relationship of love of Godhead, the natural symptoms are that the devotee does not think himself a devotee, but always thinks that he has not even a drop of love for Kṛṣṇa.’ ”

“One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor yet is always prepared to give all respect to others can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord.” (Sri Siksataska 3)

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Apparent Contradictions about Using or Renouncing Material Wealth and Opulence

Hare Krsna,

The question may thus be raised, “Why couldn’t Raghunātha dāsa have remained in his opulent life, but use everything in Kṛṣṇa’s service? Why did he have to renounce his material wealth, rather than using it to propagate Kṛṣṇa consciousness? His father and uncle were using their money to support brāhmaṇas and worship the Deity, which seems spiritual. Why did Lord Caitanya speak so adamantly about their position?

My understanding is that everything happens by the will of the Supreme Lord. He has a plan for every one of us. He knows how to engage someone for executing His mission.

In the case of Raghunath dasa, it is the plan of Lord Caitanya to use him to propagate the cult of Krsna consciousness throughout the world. The Supreme Lord appears on the plan to deliver the pious, annihilate the demons and to re-establish the principles of religion. And whenever He appears, He appears along with His associates. Lord Caitanya also appeared to deliver the fallen souls through chanting the Holy Name of Lord Krsna. And along with Him also appeared His associates such as Raghunath dasa. Through Raghunath dasa, the Lord wanted to re-establish the principles of bhakti.

SB 11.5.32: In this Age of Kali, people who are endowed with sufficient intelligence will worship the Lord, who is accompanied by His associates, by performance of saṅkīrtana-yajña.

Lord Caitanya desired that Raghunath dasa renounce everything and take shelter of the Supreme Lord. The Lord desired that Raghunath dasa be trained in Krsna consciousness before he becomes one of the most-exalted Six Goswamis. Therefore the Lord entrusted Raghunath dasa under the guidance and tutelage of Svarupa Damodara for training. The Lord said to Svarupa Damodara: “My dear Svarūpa, I entrust this Raghunātha dāsa to you. Please accept him as your son or servant. There are now three Raghunāthas among My associates. From this day forward, this Raghunātha should be known as the Raghu of Svarūpa Dāmodara.”

This is one explanation.

Another explanation that I can think of is that not everyone is qualified to renounce everything the way Raghunath dasa, and earlier, Rupa and Sanatana Goswami did. If remaining in opulent life and using everything in Krsna’s service is the only way, then the Lord could well have advised them to stay in their respective material positions. Both Sanatana and Rupa Goswami were very high-ranking ministers in the cabinet of Nawab Hussain Shah. And Raghunath dasa is the son of a very rich father. But the Lord wanted them to renounce everything. Real spiritual progress is made when one is able to renounce everything material. Anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam.

Remaining in material world and using everything for Krsna’s service is usually recommended for those who engage in karma-misra-bhakti and not very advanced in devotional service. This rule is usually applied to grihastas. Such people engage in devotional service mixed with fruitive activities. Since such people are somewhat attached to their material life and not able to renounce them completely, Krsna advises them to use their wealth for His service. In this way they will not get entangled in the results of their work. Krsna advises one based on one’s material mode of nature, natural propensity, and one’s conditioning. Only He knows what is best for us.

All said and done, the final verdict is given by Lord Caitanya who showed utter disdain for one attached to material wealth. The Lord said:

CC Antya 6.197-200 — “My dear Raghunātha dāsa, your father and his elder brother are just like worms in stool in the ditch of material enjoyment, for the great disease of the poison of material enjoyment is what they consider happiness. Although your father and uncle are charitable to brāhmaṇas and greatly help them, they are nevertheless not pure Vaiṣṇavas. However, they are almost like Vaiṣṇavas. Those who are attached to materialistic life and are blind to spiritual life must act in such a way that they are bound to repeated birth and death by the actions and reactions of their activities. By His own free will, Lord Kṛṣṇa has delivered you from such a condemned materialistic life. Therefore the glories of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s causeless mercy cannot be expressed.”

Material enjoyment is a great evil and the biggest stumbling block to one’s spiritual progress. When a man is attached to material enjoyment, he is attached to many miserable conditions, but nevertheless he accepts his condemned position as one of happiness. Sense enjoyment is so strong for such a person that he cannot give it up, exactly as a worm in stool cannot give up the stool. From the spiritual point of view, when a person is too absorbed in material enjoyment, he is exactly like a worm in stool. Although such a position is utterly miserable to the eyes of liberated souls, the materialistic enjoyer is greatly attached to it. (CC Antya 6.197-200 purport).

Lord Caitanya hence advises that pure vaisnavas should have no desire for material enjoyment. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura has sung in a celebrated song, visaya chadiya kabe suddha habe mana: “When my mind will be purified after leaving the contamination of material sense enjoyment, I shall be able to visit Vrndavana.”

Lately when we read the lesson, we should carefully note that the Supreme Lord, being the paramatma in everyone’s heart, guided Raghunata dasa to complete renunciaion according to his inner desire. First the Lord sent Raghunath dasa’s spiritual master Yadunandana Acarya. The Lord guides His devotees externally as the spiritual master and internally as the Supersoul. Yadunandana Ācārya said, “He has already asked my permission and returned home.” (CC Antya 6.176-177). This is a profound statement. To a mundane person, home means one’s material home where one lives with one’s material family. But I think Yadunandana Acarya actually meant the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. That is our real home. So when he allowed Raghunath dasa to return home, he actually permitted his disciple to return to Jagannath Puri and take shelter of Lord Caitanya. This is my humble realization (I could be wrong).

In summary, Raghunath dasa’s complete renunciation of his material wealth could only happen by the direction of the Supreme Lord. He is the supreme doer; not the jiva. Everything happens by his direction.

BG 18.61: The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!