last updated 12th April 2014
Different styles - examples
Nitya Seva Manjari
- by Gunamañjaridas Gosvami… [1827-1890]
of Sri Sri Radha Raman temple Vrindavan collected by Krishna Kshetra
The two schools of seva pujan are Japangam (regulated) and Bhaktyangam (out of love) goal is to render loving service to Krishna that will give the maximum benefit to the sadhaka too. In japanaga seva we have to be very careful here, so that the required principles of puja are adhered to as clearly defined in the Nectar of Devotion, especially regarding the kinds of offences to be avoided.
In bhaktyanga seva we welcome the Deity into our abode as a guest, and as we know, if one doesn't look after a guest nicely the guest will go away. Srila Prabhupad mentions in regard to disease, that disease is like an unwanted guest, if you don't feed it it will go away, and thus recommends fasting.... So similarly, here we want to keep our guest, and keep Them/Him happy, chearful, well fed, and well looked after and in a benedictory mood, for the wellbeing of the family et al. Therefore all arrangements are made out of love for our guest.
Shastra tells us: (Krishna Yajur Veda, Taittriya Upanishads 1:11:1 .)
"Let there be no neglect of the duties to the Gods and the fore-fathers. We should treat and keep it that the mother is respected as a God. Be it also that the father is to be treated and respected as a God. Be it also that the teacher/guru is also respected as good as God. As also the guest in the home is also respected as an aspect of God."
In the temple envoronment in our experience most persons seem more concerned about what others do than what they personally do, even though it is not meant to be like that. Therefore the need for rules and legislation to keep everything on track is very important. Managing a small or large temple, or community takes a lot of co-ordination, resources, money, time, and so on. For the temple or community members all being engaged in the service of the Deity they can all make advancement and stave off the pushes of the material energy.
In bhaktyanga, generally there might only be one or even two or so persons performing the seva. The seva is so intrinsically focused around the personal interaction and mutual co-dependency in relation to the life of the sevak and the seva of the devotee that bhaktyanga seva the only concern and meditation is for the service and comfort of our guest.
Some of you reading this may of had the experience of a great personality coming to your temple, some big guru, sannyasin or other VIP. The focus upon the needs of the guest is so intent that everyone in the community is busy making arrangements, organising, preparing and interacting with the guest, to make sure all his needs are taken care of. So similarly for the devotees engaged/engrossed in bhaktyanga seva the guest is the sole object of meditation and service.
In Japanga seva the most important factors are punctuality, cleanliness, opulence, decoration, resources and functionality of the institution. Whereas in bhaktyanga seva the most important aspect is the mood, from the swagatam - greeting, the attentivness, and the offering of nice foodstuffs. Of couse these would be offered in japanga also. In japanga again we have seen that as the community is rostered on to perform the seva, and various arangements are made and it's not always as desired, and that those who are filling in the roster are doing so not always out of enthusiasm or ecstatic love as often they render their time and service as a duty - and that is good (sometimes out of force). Yet, in bhakyanga seva where we serve not out of duty but out of love.
In bhaktyanga seva the most important aspect is the mood, the swagatam - greeting, the offering of nice foodstuffs, and the making the "guest" feel most welcome and wanted. In that way we offer all that we possibly can without reserve to please the guest. Bhaktyanga as the name infers is seated in the development of love.
What were doing here is not some ritualistic drama, it's very practical and tangible service, and blissfully performed.
Those of us who have the good fortune to have been honoured as a guest in the homes of cultured Indian families will have experienced bhaktyanga seva directly themselves. Even if the family is not wealthy, or no vast array of facilities are at one's disposal, still the charm, warmth, doting of kindness and love inundate the recipient to keep them/Them residing at that place, and making sure the stay is a pleasent one.
From time to time we are greeted with kind words of concern that all our comfort and needs are being looked after to the initial refreshment, to the bringing of palatable items that slake the thirst of each individual sense and rekindle the spirit, invigourating the guest into benedictory mood of Krishna consciousness. All of the limbs of this fine ancient culture are so designed to make us grateful.
Especially in bhaktyanga there's a powerful emphasis on feeding the "guest", and all stops are pulled out in providing the best of what is available. Of course, variations from one place to another is expected, certainly it is not all one. The best that Sanatan Goswami could offer his Deities were dried chappattis without even butter or ghee, but it was all he had....... What is however, unified is that of the selfless devotion under which everything is done, even if the host feels greatly inadiquate in the provision of what is being offered.
A good example of this is Sudama Vipra, a simple brahmin, who was a school friend of the Lord. Due to his natural detachment and simplicity from the material realm around him he, and consequently his wife too, had little as far as material possessions or provisions that could be engaged in the service of his friend Lord Krishna but they offered Him the very best that they could muster. Sudama's wife asked him to go to Krishna and as they were friends to ask for some benediction, as they were very poor and much in need. Being propositioned by his wife like this he agreed to approach Krishna, and going there to see his old friend, he had to take some nice offering from home, as thoughfulness of the Vedik culture. So wrapped in a small cloth Sudama brought his humble offering of love some chipped rice for his dear friend.
Srila Prabhupad writes in the Krsna
Book (81st chapter)(you'll need the Balaram FONT
installed to read this properly):
Lord Kåñëa, the Supersoul, knows everything in everyone’s heart. He knows everyone’s determination and everyone’s want. He knew, therefore, the reason for Sudämä Vipra’s coming to Him. He knew that, driven by extreme poverty, he had come there at the request of his wife. Thinking of Sudämä as His very dear class friend, He knew that Sudämä’s love for Him as a friend was never tainted by any desire for material benefit. Kåñëa thought, “Sudämä has not come asking anything from Me; being obliged by the request of his wife, he has come to see Me just to please her.” Lord Kåñëa therefore decided that He would give more material opulence to Sudämä Vipra than could be imagined even by the King of heaven.
He then snatched the bundle of chipped rice which was hanging on the shoulder of the poor brähmaëa, packed in one corner of his wrapper, and said, “What is this? My dear friend, you have brought Me nice, palatable chipped rice!” He encouraged Sudämä Vipra, saying, “I consider that this quantity of chipped rice will satisfy not only Me but the whole creation.” It is understood from this statement that Kåñëa, being the original source of everything, is the root of the entire creation. As watering the root of a tree immediately distributes water to every part of the tree, so an offering made to Kåñëa, or any action done for Kåñëa, is to be considered the highest welfare work for everyone, because the benefit of such an offering is distributed throughout the creation. Love for Kåñëa is distributed to all living entities.
While Lord Kåñëa was speaking to Sudämä Vipra, He ate one morsel of chipped rice from his bundle, and when He attempted to eat a second morsel, Rukmiëédevé, the goddess of fortune herself, checked the Lord by catching hold of His hand. After touching the hand of Kåñëa, Rukmiëé said, “My dear Lord, this one morsel of chipped rice is sufficient to cause him who offered it to become very opulent in this life and to continue his opulence in the next life. My Lord, You are so kind to Your devotee that even this one morsel of chipped rice pleases You very greatly, and Your pleasure assures the devotee opulence both in this life and in the next.” This indicates that when food is offered to Lord Kåñëa with love and devotion and He is pleased and accepts it from the devotee, Rukmiëédevé, the goddess of fortune, becomes so greatly obliged to the devotee that she has to go personally to the devotee’s home to turn it into the most opulent home in the world. If one feeds Näräyaëa sumptuously, the goddess of fortune, Lakñmé, automatically becomes a guest in one’s house, which means that one’s home becomes opulent. The learned brähmaëa Sudämä passed that night at the house of Lord Kåñëa, and while there he felt as if he were living in a Vaikuëöha planet. Actually he was living in Vaikuëöha, because wherever Lord Kåñëa, the original Näräyaëa, and Rukmiëédevé, the goddess of fortune, live is not different from the spiritual planets, Vaikuëöhaloka.
The learned brähmaëa Sudämä did not appear to have received anything substantial from Lord Kåñëa while at His palace, yet he did not ask anything from the Lord. The next morning he started for his home, thinking always about his reception by Kåñëa, and thus he merged in transcendental bliss. All the way home he simply remembered the dealings of Lord Kåñëa, and he felt very happy to have seen the Lord.
The brähmaëa thought, “It is most pleasurable to see Lord Kåñëa, who is most devoted to the brähmaëas. How great a lover He is of the brahminical culture! He is the Supreme Brahman Himself, yet He reciprocates with the brähmaëas. He also respects the brähmaëas so much that He embraced to His chest such a poor brähmaëa as me, although He never embraces anyone to His chest except the goddess of fortune. How can there be any comparison between me, a poor, sinful brähmaëa, and the Supreme Lord Kåñëa, who is the only shelter of the goddess of fortune? And yet, considering me a brähmaëa, He embraced me with heartfelt pleasure in His two transcendental arms. Lord Kåñëa was so kind to me that He allowed me to sit down on the same bedstead where the goddess of fortune lies down. He considered me His real brother. How can I appreciate my obligation to Him? When I was tired, Çrématé Rukmiëédevé, the goddess of fortune, began to fan me, holding the cämara whisk in her own hand. She never considered her exalted position as the first queen of Lord Kåñëa. I was rendered service by the Supreme Personality of Godhead because of His high regard for the brähmaëas, and by massaging my legs and feeding me with His own hand, He practically worshiped me! Aspiring for elevation to the heavenly planets, liberation, all kinds of material opulence, or perfection in the powers of mystic yoga, everyone throughout the universe worships the lotus feet of Lord Kåñëa. Yet the Lord was so kind to me that He did not give me even a farthing, knowing very well that I am a poverty-stricken man who, if I got some money, might become puffed up and mad after material opulence and so forget Him.”
The statement of the brähmaëa Sudämä is correct. An ordinary man who is very poor and prays to the Lord for benediction in material opulence, and who somehow or other becomes richer in material opulence, immediately forgets his obligation to the Lord. Therefore, the Lord does not offer opulences to His devotee unless the devotee is thoroughly tested. Rather, if a neophyte devotee serves the Lord very sincerely and at the same time wants material opulence, the Lord keeps him from obtaining it. Thinking in this way, the learned brähmaëa gradually reached his own home. But there he saw that everything was wonderfully changed. He saw that in place of his cottage there were big palaces made of valuable stones and jewels, glittering like the sun, moon and rays of fire. Not only were there big palaces, but at intervals there were beautifully decorated parks, in which many beautiful men and women were strolling. In those parks there were nice lakes full of lotus flowers and beautiful lilies, and there were flocks of multicolored birds. Seeing the wonderful conversion of his native place, the brähmaëa began to think to himself, “How am I seeing all these changes? Does this place belong to me or to someone else? If it is the same place where I used to live, then how has it so wonderfully changed?”
While the learned brähmaëa was considering this, a group of beautiful men and women with features resembling those of the demigods, accompanied by musical chanters, approached to welcome him. All were singing auspicious songs. The wife of the brähmaëa was very glad on hearing the tidings of her husband’s arrival, and with great haste she also came out of the palace. The brähmaëa’s wife appeared so beautiful that it seemed as if the goddess of fortune herself had come to receive him. As soon as she saw her husband present before her, tears of joy fell from her eyes, and her voice became so choked up that she could not even address her husband. She simply closed her eyes in ecstasy. But with great love and affection she bowed down before her husband, and within herself she thought of embracing him. She was fully decorated with a gold necklace and ornaments, and while standing among the maidservants she appeared like the wife of a demigod just alighting from an airplane. The brähmaëa was surprised to see his wife so beautiful, and in great affection and without saying a word he entered the palace with her.
When the brähmaëa entered his personal apartment in the palace, he saw that it was not an apartment but the residence of the King of heaven. The palace was surrounded by many columns of jewels. The couches and the bedsteads were made of ivory and bedecked with gold and jewels, and the bedding was as white as the foam of milk and as soft as a lotus. There were many whisks hanging from golden rods, and many golden thrones with sitting cushions as soft as lotus flowers. In various places there were velvet and silken canopies with laces of pearls hanging all around. The structure of the building stood on excellent transparent marble, with engravings made of emerald stones. All the women in the palace carried lamps made of valuable jewels. The flames and the jewels combined to produce a wonderfully brilliant light. When the brähmaëa saw his position suddenly changed to one of opulence, and when he could not determine the cause for such a sudden change, he began to consider very gravely how it had happened.
He thus began to think, “From the beginning of my life I have been extremely poverty-stricken, so what could be the cause of such great and sudden opulence? I do not find any cause other than the all-merciful glance of my friend Lord Kåñëa, the chief of the Yadu dynasty. Certainly these are gifts of Lord Kåñëa’s causeless mercy. The Lord is self-sufficient, the husband of the goddess of fortune, and thus He is always full with six opulences. He can understand the mind of His devotee, and He sumptuously fulfills the devotee’s desires. All these are acts of my friend Lord Kåñëa. My beautiful dark friend Kåñëa is far more liberal than the cloud, which can fill the great ocean with water. Without disturbing the cultivator with rain during the day, the cloud brings liberal rain at night just to satisfy him. And yet when the cultivator wakes up in the morning, he thinks that it has not rained enough. Similarly, the Lord fulfills the desire of everyone according to his position, yet one who is not in Kåñëa consciousness considers all the gifts of the Lord to be less than his desire. On the other hand, when the Lord receives a little thing in love and affection from His devotee, He considers it a great and valuable gift. The vivid example is me. I simply offered Him a morsel of chipped rice, and in exchange He has given me opulences greater than the opulence of the King of heaven.”
What the devotee actually offers the Lord is not
needed by the Lord, for He is self-sufficient. If the devotee offers something
to the Lord, it acts for his own interest because whatever a devotee offers
the Lord comes back in a quantity a million times greater than what was
offered. One does not become a loser by giving to the Lord; he becomes
a gainer by millions of times.
The brähmaëa, feeling great obligation to Kåñëa, thought, “I pray to have the friendship of Lord Kåñëa and to engage in His service, and to surrender fully unto Him in love and affection, life after life. I do not want any opulence. I only desire not to forget His service. I simply wish to be associated with His pure devotees. May my mind and activities be always engaged in His service. The unborn Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kåñëa, knows that many great personalities have fallen from their positions because of extravagant opulence. Therefore, even when His devotee asks for some opulence from Him, the Lord sometimes does not give it. He is very cautious about His devotees. Because a devotee in an immature position of devotional service may, if offered great opulence, fall from his position due to being in the material world, the Lord does not offer opulence to him. This is another manifestation of the causeless mercy of the Lord upon His devotee. His first interest is that the devotee not fall. He is exactly like a well-wishing father who does not give much wealth into the hand of his immature son, but who, when the son is grown up and knows how to spend money, gives him the whole treasury house.”
The learned brähmaëa thus concluded that whatever opulences he had received from the Lord should be used not for his extravagant sense gratification but for the service of the Lord. The brähmaëa accepted his newly acquired opulence, but he did so in a spirit of renunciation, unattached to sense gratification, and thus he lived very peacefully with his wife, enjoying all the facilities of opulence as prasädam of the Lord. He enjoyed varieties of food by offering it to the Lord and then taking it as prasädam. Similarly, if by the grace of the Lord we get such opulences as material wealth, fame, power, education and beauty, it is our duty to consider that they are all gifts of the Lord and must be used for His service, not for our sense enjoyment. The learned brähmaëa remained in that position, and thus his love and affection for Lord Kåñëa increased day after day; it did not deteriorate due to great opulence. Material opulence can be the cause of degradation and also the cause of elevation, according to the purposes for which it is used. If opulence is used for sense gratification it is the cause of degradation, and if used for the service of the Lord it is the cause of elevation.
It is evident from Lord Kåñëa’s
dealings with Sudämä Vipra that the Supreme Personality of Godhead
is very, very much pleased with a person who possesses brahminical qualities.
A qualified brähmaëa like Sudämä Vipra is naturally
a devotee of Lord Kåñëa. Therefore it is said, brähmaëo
vaiñëavaù: a brähmaëa is a Vaiñëava.
Or sometimes it is said, brähmaëaù paëòitaù.
Paëòita means a highly learned person. A brähmaëa
cannot be foolish or uneducated. Therefore there are two divisions of brähmaëas,
namely Vaiñëavas and paëòitas. Those who are simply
learned are paëòitas but not yet devotees of the Lord, or Vaiñëavas.
Lord Kåñëa is not especially pleased with them. Simply
the qualification of being a learned brähmaëa is not sufficient
to attract the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Not only must a brähmaëa
be well qualified according to the requirements stated in scriptures such
as Çrémad Bhagavad-gétä and Çrémad-Bhägavatam,
but at the same time he must be a devotee of Lord Kåñëa.
The vivid example is Sudämä Vipra. He was a qualified brähmaëa,
unattached to all sorts of material sense enjoyment, and at the same time
a great devotee of Lord Kåñëa. Lord Kåñëa,
the enjoyer of all sacrifices and penances, is very fond of a brähmaëa
like Sudämä Vipra, and we have seen by the actual behavior of
Lord Kåñëa how much He adores such a brähmaëa.
Therefore, the ideal stage of human perfection is to become a brähmaëa-vaiñëava
like Sudämä Vipra.
Sudämä Vipra realized that although Lord Kåñëa is unconquerable, He nevertheless agrees to be conquered by His devotees. He realized how kind Lord Kåñëa was to him, and he was always in trance, constantly thinking of Kåñëa. By such constant association with Lord Kåñëa, whatever darkness of material contamination remained within his heart was completely cleared away, and very shortly he was transferred to the spiritual kingdom, which is the goal of all saintly persons in the perfectional stage of life.
Çukadeva Gosvämé has stated that all persons who hear this history of Sudämä Vipra and Lord Kåñëa will know how affectionate Lord Kåñëa is to the brähmaëa devotees like Sudämä. Therefore anyone who hears this history gradually becomes as qualified as Sudämä Vipra, and he is thus transferred to the spiritual kingdom of Lord Kåñëa. (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. excerpt taken from the Eighty-first chapter of Kåñëa, “The Brähmaëa Sudämä Blessed by Lord Kåñëa”.)
In this way His kindness melts our hearts being obliged to accept our humble offerings saturated with love presented at His feet for His pleasure. His kindness is completely causeless, but knowing the heart of the devotee, and understanding the dependency of the devotee for His mercy in even taking our very next breath what to speak of doing more, our "guest" Who is in reality the Landlord, Father, Provider, Enjoyer of everything such a dependent householder does blesses us with His continued presence.
dastam mam uddhara prabho
"O Supreme Lord, O reservoir of the highest pleasure, be pleased upon me. I have been bitten by the poisonous snake of mental and bodily miseries. Therefore, O Lord, please deliver me."
mam uddhara jagad-guro
"O Lord Krsna, O lover of Rukmini, O attractor of the minds of the gopis, please uplift me, for I am immersed in the ocean of birth and death, O spiritual preceptor of the universe."
mam samuddhara madhava
"O Lord Kesava, O destroyer of the threefold miseries, O only refuge of all souls, O destroyer of the Jana demons, O Govinda, O reservoir of pleasure, please uplift me who am fallen, O husband of the goddess of fortune."
he krsna karuna-sindho
radha-kanta namo 'stu te
"O my dear Krsna, You are the friend of the distressed, the ocean of mercy, and the Lord of creation. You are the master of the cowherdsmen and the lover of the gopis, especially Radharani. I offer my respectful obeisances unto You."
goptarau me yuvam eva
"O Radha-Krsna, You are my protectors from the ocean of material existence which is characterized by sons, friends, household and land. Therefore You are known as the destroyers of the fear of those who are surrendered unto You."
yo 'ham mamasti yat-kincid
iha loke paratra ca
tat sarvam bhavato 'dyaiva
"O Your Lordships, myself and whatever little bit is mine in this world and in the next, all that, I now offer unto Your lotus feet."
aham apy aparadhanam
alayas tyakta sadhanah
agatis ca tato nathau
bhavantau me para gatih
"O Your Lordships, I am certainly the abode of many offences and am completely devoid of the practice of devotional service; neither do I have any resort or shelter. Therefore, I am taking You as my ultimate goal."
karmana manasa gira
yuvam eva gatir mama
saranam vam prapanno 'smi
prasadam kuru dasyam bho
mayi duste 'paradhini
"O Lord of Srimati Radharani, I am Yours, my actions, mind and words. O lover of Sri Krsna, Srimati Radharani, I belong to You alone. You both are my only shelter. O Radha and Krsna, ocean of mercy, I am taking shelter of You. Please be pleased upon me and make me Your servant, although I am such a fallen offender."
mat-samo nasti papatma
naparadhi ca kascana
parihare 'pi lajja me
kim bruve purusottama
yuvatinam yatha yuni
unam ca yuvatau yatha
mano 'bhiramate tadvan
mano me ramatam tvayi
"O Purusottama, there is no sinful person or offender who is equal to me. How can I describe my shame? Just as the minds of young ladies take pleasure in a young man and the minds of young men take pleasure in a young woman, kindly let my mind take pleasure in You, alone."
tvam eva saranam prabho
"Just as the ground is the only support for those whose feet have slipped, so also You alone are the only shelter, even for those who have committed offence to You."
Such dependence in the bhaktyanga realm of seva gives way to flexibility set in the understanding that the sadhaka will offer everything available in their resources to the service of the Lord, there's no question of holding back or minimising facilities, the guest enjoys all the facility that the host can provide, and if little or no facilities are available the guest shares in what is avaliable. again the perfect example of Sanatan Goswami is there.....when finally he was given assistance to build a fine temple for Madan Mohan by one wealthy merchant he didn't refuse it or use it for his own sense gratification while the Lord remained in a tree, no, he established a wonderful temple and with the devotees around him then established the formal japanga guidelines to look after the needs of the Lord in His new temple.
Here's some references to what is done in a bhaktyanagam situation to adjust standards of seva puja for various reasons, and what are acceptable standards of service. Note we do NOT use the terms high and low here, as the understanding is that service is not actually according to the amount of upacharas that one offers but by the love and devotion by which each and any upachara seva is offered. One could, although we advise against it, offer 64 upacharas just as a show of how wonderful a pujari one is, or for the same reason "possess" dozens or hundreds of Silas. However, we hear that the idea is total dedication as being the highest principle, and dedication of that in service. Dedication being the optimat term here.
We hear from history how miraculous things happen to devotees who were serving Deities. Some may ask why, and why not now? Who said they don't happen now? Actually there are so many wonderful things being enacted all the time, the Lord is constantly showing His causless mercy on His devotees. We read in the pages of this web-site how so many wonderful things keep happening to the devotees, all sanctioned and organised by the Lord. Actually so many things are happening to everyone, but they don't have the eyes to see what is happening. So we need to gain and preserve that vision, that "eyes touched with the salve of love" then we will so much appreciate what is going on.
On the subject of appreciation, it is important for us to have an appreciation for the unknown or inconceivable - achintya factor. From all logical or rational external vision we may or may not see things, but there's a realm where we only have entrance to once we have gained the mercy of the Guru and Krishna and Their devotees who then vouch for our entrance into acceptance of a genuine taste. It may be small taste it may be big taste, but genuine taste non-the-less.
Again the emphasis is not on quantity, but on quality.
Just as we so often can have no idea of the suffering of others when they are sick or bereaved of a loss or something, so similarly, and in most cases we have experienced also that we have no idea of the intensity of love a devotee has for serving the Lord. From an external vision, a devotee there day by day, year after year may be totally dedicated, or maybe he has no-where else to go, which is also good. The accumulation of so many Silas may be a wonderful attraction for the form of the Lord, but could also be for false prestige, for self agradisement,
You may have heard the term Putana bhakti, it means false bhakti, just as the witch Putana fooled everyone by her dressing so nicely, by presenting herself so nicely, even people thought she was something special - and she was, she was a special demoness come to kill Krishna. So we don't want like that, we don't want to stamp out Krishna consciousness to establish ourselves as supreme like the demons do. No, the humble devotee keeps to serving his Lord, even it is suggested he keep the love he has hidden so that others don't see (which has been the sad reason that some REALLY nice devotees have refused to join so many other nice devotees here on this site who I begged to send pictures and stories to enthuse us all. For that we are so grateful to you all for doing. However we can understand the others too.)
gopayed devatam istam gopayed gurum atmanahBut we need to look at what this means too, not just to impose our personal preference or guru on others as is suggested herein http://www.vnn.org/editorials/ET0209/ET22-7570.html Similarly one must not advertise one's bhakti, but always remain humble.
gopayec ca nijam mantram gopayen nija-malikam
One should hide one's ista-deva, one should hide one's guru, one should hide one's mantra, and one should hide one's japa-mala.
Wise persons keep their valuables in a confidential place. Similarly, an intelligent sadhaka does not advertise his or her guru, nor do they broadcast themselves as disciples of their guru. Considering themselves as low, fallen, and unfit to be considered disciples, sincere devotees do not want to advertise who their guru is.
Spiritual dealings are VERY personal, and individuals need to be recognized in a positive way for who they are. There are certainly different grades of devotees, as seen in our page HERE.
krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta
diksasti cet pranatibhia ca bhajantam isam
susrusraya bhajana-vijnam ananyam anya-
["One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krsna, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation (diksa) and is engaged in worshiping the Deity, and one should associate with and faithfully serve that pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others." (Nectar Of Instruction text 5)]
As this page is about bhakti - bhaktyangam we want to keep that the focal point in all our interactions. If we can't have good straight forward and kindly dealins with the Lord's devotees, how do we expect to have good dealings with the Lord. If we take a few moments to reflect on what brought us to Krishna consciousness it was that camaraderie of like-minded persons, all serving the one central focal point - Guru and Krishna. An example is sometimes given of a pool and Krishna being the centre, and as we offer our loving gifts of flower petals to Him as they hit the water they send out nice concentric ripples. Conversely if we each out of freedom of choice and our teleological free will decided to put our representative pebble into that same pool rather than at a central point the tendency expected and seen is not that of nice concentric ripples, but of individual ego-centric clashes of interest. Even one or two with their own central focus in mind will causes a mess - picture it.
What makes the bhakti movement so attractive? It is in my opinion the mutual or All Attractive-ness potency of Krishna. Everything has it's place, everything has it's natural function, every facility is available, and nothing is left out or neglected, everything is made for His enjoyment or pleasure. Everything is equally respected in relation to Him. Everything is done for Him out of love with not tainted self interest getting in the way. That is what is attractive, not the rampant individualism of everyone going out of their way to separately making a name for ourselves. No, He must be and remain the Absolute central focal point in every regard.
An example is sometimes given of a fruitbowl, the structure of which represents the philosophy of and life-style of Krishna consciousness. Within the fruit bowl there would be a variety of fruits, each of which has its own unique flavour and use. Apples are a wonderful fruit, refreshing, makes great juice, eating one is good for staying awake; bananas, what a divine fragrance of the humble banana, a whole food, great for binding cakes - or dogdy stomaches too, for sweetening, so many things; orange(s), we use the plural as there are so many sub-varieities each with their unique function and use, juicing, decoration, sweetening, salad, or in medication, again so many things, similarly the lemon, the grape-fruit, the grape the strawberry, the pear, the mango, the papaya - all unique, all with their own wonderful attributes and qualities, each can be truly appreciated. In that regard, we would like to enter a small excerpt from a book on communities, and maintaining healthy ones:
Excerpts from "The Rabbi's Gift", printed in "The Different Drum"Due to material conditioning it is very difficult for us to properly assertain who is actually getting a genuine taste, even when we do an anthropological social study, even by ethnological examination of comparrison with qualities in the scripture, it might be difficult case to legislate who is getting a genuine taste, and by ethnographical research, living with and keeping notes who can really tell who is getting a taste. Externally so many things may or may not be seen, and then what to make of it. Even if we are right in our examination, what is the use, we just spent so much time examining someone else when we could have been getting a taste ourselves. So all such external stuff is really a waste of time.
by Scott Peck
A monastery had fallen upon hard times. A once-great monastic order had been reduced to five monks left in a decaying mother house, the abbot and four others, all over seventy in age. A Jewish rabbi used to come to a little hut in the woods surrounding the monastery. The abbot of the monastery visited the rabbi during one such visit to ask if he had advice which might save the monastery.
The rabbi said, "I know how it is. The spirit has gone out of the people. It is the same in my town. Almost no one comes to services of worship any more". And the rabbi and abbot wept together, read sacred texts and quietly spoke of deep things.
When the abbot had to leave, he asked whether the rabbi had any advice which would help save the dying order. "No, I am sorry. I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you". With those words, the abbot left the rabbi and returned to his dying monastery. When the monks asked about the rabbi's words, the abbot passed on to them the words of the rabbi about "the Messiah being one of us". The rabbi admitted he did not know what the words meant.
As the days passed, the old monks pondered the rabbi's words and wondered. Could he have meant one of us? If so which one? Do you suppose he meant the abbot? Brother Thomas? Brother Elred? Surely not. Elred is hard to get along with although when you think about it, he is virtually always right. Surely not Brother Phillip. Phillip is so passive, a real nobody, but almost mysteriously he has a gift for somehow always being there when you need him. Of course the Rabbi could not have meant me, but supposing he did. Suppose I am the Messiah.
As they contemplated in this manner, the old monks began to treat each other with extraordinary respect in the event one among them might be the Messiah. And just in case one might himself be the Messiah, they each began to treat themselves with extraordinary respect.
People who came to visit the beautiful forest in which the monastery was located began to sense this aura of extraordinary respect that now began to surround the five old monks. There was something strangely attractive, even compelling about it. They began to come back to the monastery more often to picnic, to play to pray. They began to bring their friends to show them this special place. And their friends brought their friends. Then it happened that some of the younger men who came to visit the monastery started to talk with the old monks. After a while one asked if he could join them. Then another. And another. So within a few years the monastery had once again become a thriving order and thanks to the rabbi's gift, a vibrant center of light and spirituality in the kingdom.
We need however to see through all these things, to understand them as real, but as temporary coverings of who we are. It doesn't need to be done as an extra curricular endeavour, and there's certainly no need to articifically speculate on who is lurking below or within the coverings in terms of what kind of rasa, swarup etc is there.
The self luminous nature of Krishna consciousness, just like the Sun in the morning, you don't need another to inform you that it's daylight, it is apparent. Likewise, when the jiva is awakened to the relationship they have with the Lord they won't have to ask for clarification or confirmation. Only in the stages that we're still in the darkeness do we need to ask if it's light yet. We know, so there's no need to try to cheat.
This attachment of the devotee to a particular form of the Lord is due to natural inclination. Each and every living entity is originally attached to a particular type of transcendental service because he is eternally the servitor of the Lord. Lord Chaitanya says that the living entity is eternally a servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna. Therefore, every living entity has a particular type of service relationship with the Lord, eternally. This particular attachment is invoked by practice of regulative devotional service to the Lord, and thus the devotee becomes attached to the eternal form of the Lord, exactly like one who is already eternally attached. This attachment for a particular form of the Lord is called svarüpa-siddhi. The Lord sits on the lotus heart of the devotee in the eternal form the pure devotee desires, and thus the Lord does not part from the devotee, as confirmed in the previous verse. The Lord, however, does not disclose Himself to a casual or unauthentic worshiper to be exploited. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gitä (7.25): näham prakäshah sarvasya yoga-mäyä-samävritah. Rather, by yoga-mäyä, the Lord remains concealed to the nondevotees or casual devotees who are serving their sense gratification. The Lord is never visible to the pseudodevotees who worship the demigods in charge of universal affairs. The conclusion is that the Lord cannot become the order supplier of a pseudodevotee, but He is always prepared to respond to the desires of a pure, unconditional devotee, who is free from all tinges of material infection. (Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srimad Bhagavatam 3:9:11. purport extract.)Anyone who understands this philosophy, this transcendental nature of Krishna, then what is the result? Karmabhir na sa badhyate.Because every act... We are bound up by the reaction of our past deeds. So as soon as we understand the transcendental activities of Krishna, at once we become free from all reactions.
Rupa Gosvami delineates the nine stages of spiritual development:
adau sraddha tatah sadhu-
sango 'tha bhajana-kriya
tato 'nartha-nivrttih syat
tato nishtha rucis tatah
athasaktis tato bhavas
sadhakanam ayam premëah
pradurbhave bhavet kramah
"In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna. This taste leads one further forward to attachment for Krishna consciousness, which is matured in bhava, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of God. Real love for God is called prema, the highest perfectional stage of life."
Adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sangah atha bhajana-kriya tato anartha-nivrttih
syat. And as you are more and more engaged in spiritual activities, so,
proportionately, your material activities and affection for material activities
will diminish. Counteraction. When you engage in the spiritual activities,
your material activities diminishes.
(Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. B.G. Lecture, 2.58-59, New York, 7th April, 1966)
And if you associate with sadhu, then bhajana-kriya. If we... Just like
so many thousands of Europeans, Americans, they have joined us on account
of sadhu-sanga. First of all they come in the temple and hear for some
days. Then all of a sudden he becomes shaven-headed. We haven't to request.
He takes a bead and bead bag, although he's not initiated. Then, after
some days, he approaches, "Please get me initiated." The bhajana-kriya.
This is called bhajana-kriya. So we initiate. "Yes, now you are interested,
we initiate." We give him hari-nama: "Chant Hare Krsna mantra." This is
the first initiation. "And chant sixteen rounds and observe these rules
and regulations." Then, when I see, six months or one year, he's doing
very nicely, then we accept him as my disciple, the second initiation.
So this is bhajana-kriya. Then he's admitted to worship the Deity or cook
for the Deity, so many things. Bhajana-kriya.
(Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srimad-Bhagavatam Lecture 1.2.18 Calcutta, September 26, 1974)
My Guru Maharaja, my spiritual master, used to say that you have to
select a spiritual master not by seeing but by your ear, but by hearing.
And you don't select a spiritual master who has got a very good hair or
beard or some very beautiful feature, "Oh, he is a very good, nice looking."
No. You must hear. Tad viddhi pranipatena. Sruti. The whole process is
sruti. The Vedas are called sruti. The ear has to aural reception.
(Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. B.G. 4.24.34 Lecture, N.Y. 2nd August, 1966)
It is the devotee who shows us what a relationship is like with Krishna. We learn how to be a devotee from a devotee. We don't approach Krishna directly. Nor do we approach devotional service directly (Cc, Madhya 19.151).
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija
"According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service."
Krishna consciousness requires commitment through thick and thin (SB 10.14.8):
tat te 'nukampam su-samiksamano
bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam
hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya-bhak
"My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim."
maitrah karuna eva ca
santustah satatam yogi
yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah
"One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me-such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me." (Bg 12.13-14):
Devotional service brings to our attention all the baggage we have brought with us to spiritual life. Devotional service purifies the heart, ceto-darpana-marjanam. We are given the opportunity to make a choice between material life and spiritual life, and we must choose to act accordingly. Material life means to act for our own selfish satisfaction; Krishna consciousness is the ultimate expression of selflessness, we act for the satisfaction of Krishna. The motivations are diametrically opposed. When a devotee is situated in bhajan akriya, devotional service, s/he will be shown those lower motivations and tendencies that prevent him/her from experiencing and expressing love of God. These are the anarthas. By performing devotional service with sufficient faith in the scriptures and the devotees, one develops the sensitivity and sincerity to see these weaknesses and develops sufficient knowledge to distance oneself from them. By not stubbornly holding onto them and being controlled by them, the devotee can offer them to the Lord for healing. That is the removal of anarthas, or anartha-nivrtti.
As long as we are plagued by anarthas, we cannot really be happy, whether we are on the material path or the spiritual path. It is unmotivated and uninterrupted bhakti that fully satisfies the self. Anarthas are obstructions to this state of satisfaction. One who is facing these weaknesses of heart directly is showing great courage and strength. Most people avoid facing their lower natures by either paying only lip service to religion, or avoiding spirituality altogether.
Just imagine how you would respond if you came to Krishna consciousness to find peace of mind and happiness, and later found yourself more disturbed than ever before. Some people who don't have the fortitude, strength and sincerity say, "Forget, Krishna! This doesn't work! This must be something evil!" They lose faith because they are more interested in being free of the symptoms of their pain than they are in being free of the root cause of their pain. To them, it appears that devotional service is creating the anarthas, but actually it is simply exposing what is already there, deeply ingrained in our way of life. Devotional service makes us sensitive to this, that is a sign that the process of devotional service is working, but before we can be peaceful, some repair work within the heart must take place.
Therefore, it's not unusual for devotees in the early stages of their spiritual lives to be unhappy. On the one hand, they discipline themselves to avoid the materialistic activities that once bought them pleasure. On the other hand, they have not developed a strong, abiding taste for spiritual activities simply because they have all these anarthas that prevent them from embracing the life of the spirit. Yet they are engaged predominantly in acts of devotion that are stirring up the dirt in the heart.
So, let's get back to the question I've been asked me about my experience in Krishna consciousness, "Are you happy?" Hmm, let's review our inventory:
*Born of the duality of desire and hate, therefore irresolute in purpose
*Envious of others
*Distressed by unpleasant experiences, which cause me knowingly or unknowingly to perpetuate unhealthy patterns throughout my life
*I'm performing devotional service, which is purifying my heart and causing me to face my fears, inabilities, pride, etc.
Anartha-nivrtti requires that we face some of our conditioning and conscientiously decide to give it up. This is often painful. Arjuna's decision to fight was a painful one. He had profound loving memories of Drona and Bhisma. Now he had to take up arms against them. Indeed, he would have to immobilize Bhisma on the battlefield. He did not relish the prospect. Krishna explains to Arjuna, however, that some discomfort is inevitable in the discharge of one's duties (Bg 18.48):
saha-jam karma kaunteya
sa-dosam api na tyajet
sarvarambha hi doñena
"Every endeavor is covered by some fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work born of his nature, O son of Kunti, even if such work is full of fault."
It is significant to me, at least, that the primary stage of anartha-nivrtti begins after a devotee has taken formal vows accepting a spiritual master. We certainly face anarthas prior to initiation, such as attachment to meat eating, gambling, illicit sex and intoxication. By the Lord's grace and our understanding that these things are undesirable, we are able to give them up. We may be aware of other problems - such as making commitments - but we lack the faith and experience to root them out. And then there are those anarthas that we have not yet recognized... Initiation vows are a serious matter. Srila Prabhupada said the disciple essentially declares war against maya, or illusion. To help the disciple maintain his/her vow and advance on the path of devotion, the Lord exposes the pre-existing misconceptions and weaknesses that would otherwise hold the disciple back. Gradually, the anarthas are exposed, giving the disciple the chance to address them from a spiritual perspective or hold onto them.
Anartha-nivrtti is the first stage of spiritual life where major healing begins to take place. In one respect, it less about transformation than it is restoration. It is not so much how we change, but what we gain back. The losses of our lives are made whole. By removing the anarthas, the heart is repaired. From this point it can be gradually made capable to experience and express divine love. This stage is gained for one has faith, proper association and regularly engages in devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master.
The anarthas are often painful, but their removal is a relief. A cancer patient may be suffering great pain from a tumor. The pain will not go away unless the tumor is confronted and removed. If surgery is required, the patient will have some pain related to the surgery where his body was cut open and his organs manipulated. But if the surgery is successful, soon he will be relieved of the pain and be able to function normally again.
We come to spiritual life with various different tumors, or anarthas. We all have our own unique set of them. They cause us much pain, and, in fact, that pain motivates many people to seek a spiritual remedy, or peace of mind. The spiritual doctors will diagnose our heart disease. We may be quite surprised to find out that we've caused the disease ourselves (just as a pulmonary patient is often surprised to understand that his/her smoking or diet has caused heart disease). Devotional service is the surgery and cure. It gradually cuts out the tumors of self-centeredness that are choking the free flow of our love, which is the lifeblood of a devotee. If we are patient and maintain our faith and confidence in the doctors (the devotees) and the surgery (bhakti yoga), the anarthas will be removed and we will find relief and satisfaction in continuing devotional service.
After the weaknesses of the heart are removed and the heart is fixed, devotional service buds and blooms in the heart in successive stages described above. Through these stages, the devotee experiences greater happiness, until s/he is steeped in a meditation of devotion that has no compare in this world (Bg 6.20-23):
pasyann atmani tusyati
sukham atyantikamyat tad
vetti yatra na caivayam
sthitas calati tattvatah
yam labdhva caparam labham
manyate nadhikam tatah
yasmin sthito na duhkhena
tam vidyad duhkha-samyoga-
"In the stage of perfection called trance, or samadhi, one's mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by practice of yoga. This perfection is characterized by one's ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness, realized through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact."
So, if you do not see a devotee always merged in ecstatic bliss, if
you see a devotee undergoing troubles, do not be hasty to judge either
them or their faith. Try to understand that they are facing necessary challenges
for their ultimate well-being. A devotee may not be happy today, this week,
this month or this year, but his or her future is indeed very bright.
(Ganga Das at 11/15/2001. Iskcon Boston.)
samyam masrnita svanto mamattvatisayankitah
bhava sa eva sandratma budhaih prema nigadyateh
(Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.4.1)
Those persons who are intelligent have ascertained that just as when the heart was melting in the stage of bhava, now 'samyam masrnita svanto', the heart is totally liquidized, totally melted. 'Mamattvatisayankitah'. His heart is infused with very, very intense mamata, possessiveness, mine-ness for Krsna. Gurudeva always says, "Don't be minus mine-ness." Don't be without mine-ness. Now the devotee has so much possessiveness for Krsna. Then 'bhava sa eva sandratma.' Sandrananda-visesatma. The happiness, the ananda, he feels now is called sandrananda. It is very, very condensed. How condensed? Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has explained to Sanatana Gosvami that when sandrananda-visesatma comes, the happiness of mukti or the happiness of brahmananda (realizing brahman) cannot be equal to one tiny atom of the endless ocean of this premananda. This happiness is so inconceivable; we cannot even think of it.
Sage Narada has glorified them thus:
yatha vairanubandhena martytas tan-mayatam iyat na tatha bhakti-yogena iti me niscita matih
"In my opinion, even devotees (like me) cannot attain such intense absorption in God as can those who think of him in enmity (like Sisupala)." (Srimad Bhagavatam. 7.1.27)
Some time ago I met a young girl born of Vaisnava parents. She said to me, "I don't believe in Krishna." "Why not?" I replied. "Because he does all of those impossible things, killing demons and all." "Oh, so you do believe in God," I responded. "What do you mean?" she said with a puzzled look. I explained that the very fact that she acknowledged there were laws that could not be broken was indicitave of her faith. Good logic for junior high school. Laws we all accept, acknowledging thereby a superior controlling agency. From here the discussion shifts into another gear determining the nature of that agency. Not everyone will accept the logic of the Vaishnavas which leads to Krishna, but still most common people accept that such an agency indeed exists. This kind of faith is called 'laukika sraddha', while the faith that assures one that the controlling agency is the transcendental cowherder is known as 'aprakrta sraddha'.
'Laukika' means ordinary. 'Aprakrta' means that which appears ordinary yet is not so. The nara-lila, or humanlike pastimes of Sri Krishna, are difficult to understand. This is especially so of those pastimes he performs with his gopis. In these love sports with his maidens, we find little that would lead us to believe that this young lad and his girl friends (many of whom are the wives of others) are worshippable. Yet prior to Krishna's meeting with the gopis in the dead of night, the Bhagavata tells of his extraordinary feats, killing demon after demon. These superhuman feats are not ordinary. This is so much so that we are lead to dismiss them altogether. Yet in doing so the demons within our own hearts live on, and the truth and beauty of madhurya rasa remains concealed - aprakrta sraddha will not awaken.
A few words in praise of the demons is thus quite appropriate. They do much to indirectly promote the transcendental truth of the aprakrta-lila. Sage Narada has glorified them thus:
yatha vairanubandhena martytas tan-mayatam iyat na tatha bhakti-yogena iti me niscita matih
"In my opinion, even devotees (like me) cannot attain such intense absorption in God as can those who think of him in enmity (like Sisupala)." (Bhag. 7.1.27) No doubt Narada is underrating himself here, but demons such as Sisupala, Dantavakra, Kamsa, and others have by their preoccupation with the Lord done much to bring out his glory.
To approach Sri Krishna in the way in which Sriman Mahaprabhu has recommended is simple but not easy. Within 'suddha-bhakti', pure devotion, there are many gradations of transcendental experience. 'Madhurya rasa', in which the devotee has absolutely no concern for himself, is the zenith of spiritual attainment. It is more than suddha-bhakti, it is 'prema-bhakti' and the best of prema as well. How will we reach this goal? How will we even appreciate that it is indeed the goal?
Bhaktivinoda Thakura has shown us the way in his analysis of the catuh-sloki
of the Bhagavata. He recommends we take help from the demons.
In the concluding verse of Krishna's instruction to Brahma (Bhag.2.9.36), which forms the basis for the Bhagavata, Krishna tells Brahma to both directly and indirectly search out his ultimate prospect in life, 'anvaya-vyatirekabhyam yat syat sarvatra sarvada'. In the opening stanza of the culmination of his life's work, the great and noble Vyasa utters the same, 'anvayad itaratah'. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has suggested that 'vyatirekabhyam', indirectly, means that in order to reach the goal of madhurya rasa we must first cleanse our heart of 'anarthas' (impediments).
How shall we do so? Not by any other method than devotional service,
for only bhakti begets bhakti, 'bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya'.
Nothing can cause bhakti other than bhakti herself. If this were not so, bhakti's independent nature as the 'svarupa sakti' of Bhagavan, who is himself independent (svarat), would be compromised. Yet bhakti develops within the heart in progressive stages, from 'sadhana-bhakti' to 'bhava-bhakti' to 'prema-bhakti'. In sadhana-bhakti we find the stage of 'bhajana-kriya', devotional practice ordained by the guru. It is in this stage that the task of overcoming anarthas begins. With the higher goal in mind, Thakura Bhaktivinoda recommends that we discuss the lilas of Sri Krishna in which he kills the demons in Vrindavana.
It may be unbelievable that such demons exist, but it would be hard to deny the existence of the anarthas within ourselves that they symbolize. Here a question arises. Are the demons in Krishna lila merely symbolic representations of the demons within our hearts or do they actually exist as Putana, Baka, Agha, and so on? If they are but symbolic, can not the same then be said of Krishna's lilas with the gopis? What then do those lilas represent? Does the person Krishna represent a philosophical principle upon realizing which his personhood vanishes? These are important questions.
One should not doubt the eternal transcendental existence of Radha-Krishna.
My Gurudeva Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was fond of insisting that all of the lilas of Krishna be taken only literally. Yet is this what he himself did? How could he do so and at the same time recommend the writings of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who has sometimes indicated the opposite in books like Sri Krishna Samhita? As a preaching tactic he may have done so or for that matter perhaps this was the intention of Thakura Bhaktivinoda. We can be sure of one thing: the lilas of the Lord are quite different from that which we can imagine in the early stages of sadhana-bhakti.
As Sri Krishna can hardly be fully represented in art, nor if he could would it be possible to appreciate fully his transcendental beauty with our material eye ('atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih'), so even the writing of Vyasa has its limitation, 'srutibhir vimrgyam'. Brahman cannot be described in words (entirely), yet much can be said about him, 'iksater na asabdam' (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.5). We rely upon such descriptions and the 'bhakti rahasya', the mystery of bhakti, to attain comprehensive understanding of the absolute.
The reasoning behind Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's insistence on a literal understanding of Krishna lila should be clear. Although Krishna lila can serve as a metaphor for a political worldview, (Ghandi's Gita ) a psychological worldview (Jung's Gita ), or any number of other scenarios, these are of considerably less consequence than the Gita 'as it is'.
By 'as it is' Srila Prabhupada meant as Krishna intended. Just as one may speak yet be misunderstood by those who do not know the speaker very well, so Krishna has been misunderstood by many who have dabbled in translating the text of his converstion with Arjuna yet have not taken the time or means to know him. I may say something in jest and be misunderstood by those who do not know my light-hearted nature, while my friends will understand well the spirit behind my speech. Knowing the speaker and the contextual framework from which he or she speaks is more important than knowing the language one speaks.
Who knows Krishna? He is known by his devotee alone, 'bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yas casmi tattvatah'. And who has the 'adhikara' to know him in devotion? One who has attained 'para bhakti' - 'brahma-bhutah prasannatma... mad-bhaktim labhate param' - one who has become free from anarthas. To the extent that we are troubled by anarthas, we cannot appreciate the transcendental reality of the personhood of Godhead. When prema is attained, all anarthas are removed and in a suitable body we can experience Sri Krishna directly.
The material body is not suitable for the experience of prema, in which the beauty, aroma, sound, touch, and taste of Krishna are revealed successively, requiring suitable receptacles in order that they can be assimilated by the soul. Spiritual senses are interchangeable like the Lord's. Thus when he reveals his beauty, all of one's newly acquired spiritual senses turn into eyes to capture the essence of his beauty. When he reveals his scent, the senses and mind all turn into noses, and so with all of the transcendental suprasensual affairs of prema rasa: a suitable spiritual body is required to experience the spiritual reality of Sri Krishna.
Political, psychological, sociological, and other worldviews have little value for the transcendentalist - the realist if you will. Those who are filled with material desire, however, will gravitate more readily towards these worldviews, closer to our material conditioning as they are. Symbolic interpretations of Krishna lila aimed at improving our understanding of the human condition usually lead us to believe this condition is all in all.
Thus such interpretations miss the point of Krishna lila altogether. Such interpretations, however, may be of relative value if the greater picture of the soul is not obscured by the shadow of mundane human concerns. The personhood of Godhead, while considered by most to be a mere myth, is very real, as real as our own soul.
Srila Prabhupada's insistence upon avoiding symbolic interpretations of Krishna lila was thus important. Without such, this ultimate reality could easily disappear, as it has in the numerous translations of the Gita that seek to bring out the 'deeper meaning' of the text. What could be deeper than the reality of the Personality of Godhead, who is both in all places at all times and moves about from place to place performing carefree pastimes? That which is inconceivable to ordinary people is as much so to the great thinkers who cannot accommodate a Brahman that is both immanent and transcendent at the same time, 'acintya-bhedabheda'. Yet this is what the Gaudiya Vaisnavas proclaim.
kam prati kathayitum ise samprati ko va pratitim ayatu go-pati-tanaya-kunje gopa-vadhuti-vitam brahma
"To whom can I speak; who will believe me when I say that Krishna, the Supreme Brahman, is hunting for the gopis in the bushes along the banks of the Yamuna? In this way the Lord performs his pastimes." (Padyavali 99)
At the same time, it is important to acknowlede the symbolism of the Bhagavata, for it speaks to us of the philosophical principles that each lila represents. Without understanding these philosophical points, one will forever remain a neophyte, a 'kanistha-adhikari'. By grasping the important philosophical points of the lila and assimilating them into one's life of devotional sadhana, it is possible in time to experience the transcendental reality of those lilas, represented in part by both the Bhagavata's poetic verse and the commentaries of the rasika-bhaktas, 'bhaktya bhagavatam grahyam na buddhya na ca tikaya'. Only by applying these principles in our sadhana will our bhakti be devotion, 'sruti-smrti-puranadi-pancaratra-vidhim vina aikantiki harer bhaktir utpatayaiva kalpate'. Religion without knowledge is mere sentiment turning to fanaticism. The last thing we need are 'Krishna Fundamentalists.'
Unfortunately, fundamentalism does express itself in all branches of religious and secular life. The world is not black or white - or so we are told, for if you talk to most people, you might think otherwise. Black and white Vaisnavism has been addressed by Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Sri Krishna Samhita. The Thakura has used the term 'bhara-vahi' (lit. who carries a heavy load) to describe those Vaisnavas who identify more with the surface of the trancscendental precepts of Sri Caitanya than with their essence. For bhara-vahi Vaisnavas, whose ranks reach up into the intermediate bhaktas (madhyama-adhikaris), Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote his Sri Krishna Samhita, as he did as well for those outside of India's familiarity with Vaishnava dharma.
Bhara-vahi Vaishnavas must become 'sara-grahi' Vaishnavas, or essential
Vaishnavas. They must give up the heavy load of anarthas that is holding
them back from love of Godhead. Relevant to our discussion, in Sri Krishna
Samhita Bhaktivinoda has elaborately described the eighteen demons of vraja-lila
symbolically. Each of the demons represent anarthas within the hearts of
the sadhakas, which must be eliminated if the sadhakas are to advance to
bhava and ultimately prema-bhakti.
With less elaboration, he has emphasized the same in his Sri Caitanya Siksamrta thus: "The conduct of Sri Krishna is twofold, i.e. eternal and occasional. In Goloka, eternal conduct and astakaliya-lila exist at all times. In Bhauma Vrindavana that astakaliya-lila is mixed with the occasional lilas. Going from Vraja and returning and killing asuras are occasional lilas... For aspirants, occasional lilas, which are adverse to eternal lila, have been manifested for instruction. Aspirants should pray that those lilas will destroy their own evil." Impediments on the path of suddha-bhakti are many. Only the diligent and introspective sadhaka will be able to surmount these obstacles, invoking as such sadhana-bhakti does, the grace of God.
Sukadeva Goswami has concluded his description of the rasa-lila with
an important verse (Bhag. 10.33.39) to guide the sadhaka along this esoteric
vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca visnoh sraddhanvito 'nusrnuyad atha varnayed yah bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam hrd-rogam asv apahinoty acirena dhirah
Here Sukadeva has described the efficacy of hearing about Sri Krishna's rasa-lila and his pastimes in general. In doing so he has used the name Vishnu rather than Krishna to help us appreciate the fact that these are the pastimes of God. By using the name Vishnu he has also indicated that indirect cultivation of para bhakti, via discussion of those pastimes in which the demons are killed, is the appropriate course. Sri Jiva Goswami has also indirectly confirmed this in his commentary stressing as he has the word 'dhirah', sense controlled. Only one who is sense controlled, having cleansed his or her heart to some extent can, upon discussing the rasa-lila, be further freed from all remaining traces of kama, or material desire.
'Kama' means lust and kama also means desire in general. If one is not committed to conquering lust, hearing these pastimes can have the opposite effect of increasing lusty desire. Sukadeva says further that faith derived from hearing from the guru-parampara is required for such hearing. This is aprakrta sraddha. If having attained some standing in bhakti (prati-labhya), by proper connection with the 'srota-pantha' and discussion of the occasional lilas, we hear regularly rasa-lila with faith, all remaining traces of lust in the heart (anarthas) will be destroyed.
Sri Caitanya's lila, like Krishna lila, is similarly two-sided. As the Visnu within svayam-bhagavan killed Putana and svayam-bhagavan himself gave her vatsalya rasa, the yuga avatara Sri Caitanya delivered people from their demoniac tendencies and Mahaprabhu (Radha and Krishna combined) bestowed unparelleled prema. Through nama-sankirtana our inner demons will be destroyed, and thus our hearts cleansed to continue the cultivation of love of God. In the words of Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami,
ataeve visnu takhana krsnera sarire visnu-dvare kare krsna asura-samhare anusanga-karma ei asura-marana ye lagi' avatara, kahi se mula karana
"Therefore it is Visnu who is present within the body of Krishna through
whom he kills the demons. Thus killing the demons is but secondary work.
Now I shall speak of the main reason for Sri Caitanya's descent." (C.c. Adi 4.13-14)
Here Krsnadasa Kaviraja has told us that Sri Caitanya's preaching campaign is the indirect, or secondary, cause of his descent. Killing the demons within is an incidental yet necessary element in the cultivation of Love of God. The bestowal of love of God in the course of experiencing the same is the primary reason for Mahaprabhu's appearance.
Had Sriman Mahaprabhu not appeared in the world, no one would have ever known about the superexcellence of madhurya rasa in manjari bhava. By his grace we can find the secret path to Krishna lila. We are to appreciate even the demons along the way, knowing that the only enemy is ourself. If you can believe this, you too can do the impossible, the wonderful. It is not that Krishna's killing of the demons is wonderful and therefore hard to believe. That God can do wonderful things is a given. Laws are made (by him) to be broken (by him and his kind). But that he will do ordinary things, such as become one's intimate friend and even lover, is most wonderful indeed. Such may look ordinary, but it is not - aprakrta. That wonder we can know only by the grace of Sri Chaitanya and his intimate associates in the guru parampara.
EDITORIAL, Feb 18th 1999 (VNN) — (from Sanga firstname.lastname@example.org) (Part 1) Bhara-vahi
Vaishnavas must become 'sara-grahi' Vaishnavas, or essential Vaishnavas.
They must give up the heavy load of anarthas that is holding them back
from love of Godhead. In Sri Krishna Samhita, Bhaktivinoda has elaborately
described the eighteen demons of vraja-lila symbolically. Each of the demons
represent anarthas within the hearts of the sadhakas, which must be eliminated
if the sadhakas are to advance to bhava and ultimately prema-bhakti. With
less elaboration, he has emphasized the same in his Sri Caitanya Siksamrta
"The conduct of Sri Krishna is twofold, i.e. eternal and occasional. In Goloka, eternal conduct and astakaliya-lila exist at all times. In Bhauma Vrindavana that astakaliya-lila is mixed with the occasional lilas. Going from Vraja and returning and killing asuras are occasional lilas... For aspirants, occasional lilas, which are adverse to eternal lila, have been manifested for instruction. Aspirants should pray that those lilas will destroy their own evil."
Putana: The False Guru
The first appearance of the pure religious ideal in one's heart is characterized by the distancing of oneself from all varieties of pseudoreligion. Such pseudoreligion is represented by Putana, the personification of the false guru. False gurus teach pseudoreligion aimed at material enjoyment and liberation. Thus Sri Krishna killed Putana in his infancy, as will the jiva reject false doctrines when Krishna makes his first appearance in the heart.
(see more examples below)
Shakatasura: The Heavy Burden
Those who do not understand the essence of the Vedas and simply identify with the outer meaning of scriptures without understanding the importance of raga-marga are troubled by Shakatasura. They who only intellectually identify with the scriptures are also bhara-vahis. Sakata-bhanga, breaking the cart and getting relief from this heavy burden, is accomplished by good association with a siksa guru who unsettles the sadhaka with strong preaching, causing him to go beyond his stereotypical conceptions of spiritual life.
Trnavarta: The Whirlwind of Circular Reasoning
Logic is inconclusive, tarko 'pratishthah. Mental conjecture gives rise to Buddhist and Mayavada conclusions, which, like tornadoes, block the sun and cut paths that reap only havoc. Those desiring to tread the straightforward, self-illumined path of bhakti should avoid useless scholarship and dry reasoning, knowing them to be breeding grounds for demoniac philosophies. Sri Krishna is moved by the humble devotees who carefully try to avoid this fault. For such devotees he takes the air out of false arguments and establishes his devotees on the firm ground of 'acintya-bhedabheda-tattva'.
Keshi: The Male Horse of False Pride
The cultivation of devotion brings with it many results. Among these is the realization that one is in a better position than others, especially common people. Due to this, a devotee may feel himself to be superior to others, thinking, "I am a great devotee." If this mentality is not harnessed, the stampede of Keshi will disturb Krishna, and such unnecessarily proud devotees will fall from devotional practice. Gentle dealings and humility are always the standard of the Vaishnava.
Pralambasura: The Lust of Puja, Labha, and Pratishtha
Even advanced devotees are attacked by these subtle desires for worship, profit, and position, which cling to them (pralamba) in an attempt to bring them down. These desires are great obstacles on the path of bhakti. He hangs on even in advanced stages of devotion. Pralambasura even tries to carry away the guru from Krishna by such desires. But Sri Baladeva, the personification of servitor Godhead (sri guru), removes these obstacles by appearing in the heart of the sincere and humble devotee, reminding him that he is accepting worship only on behalf of Krishna and that all honor is meant for the Lord alone.
Vatsasura: The Personification of Restlessness
Youthful wanderlust must be curtailed in order to advance in devotion.
Although this is natural for adolescents and should not be checked, if we want our bhakti to mature, Vatsasura, the misplaced calf of innocence must be slain. Youthful restlessness should not be artificially suppressed by instructing adolescents to forgo such so that in the future thay can enjoy their maturity. Suppressing sensuality for the sake of enjoying it better in the future is demoniac. Such approaches to parenting generally result in ensuring misbehavior in youth as well. Rather youths should be reminded of the youthful lilas of Govinda. In remembrance of these lilas, both the greed-based restlessness of youth in general and that which appears in the sadhaka are destroyed.
Clutches of Varuna: Intoxication
The beautitude of bhajana is not enhanced by any form of intoxication.
Nanda Maharaja's seizure by the servants of Varuna teaches us that intoxication will take us far from devotion and attempt to drown the sadhaka in misconception. Coming to one's senses, giving up this vice, one realizes that if intoxication could give one Krishna, it would be more worshippable than Krishna himself. Varuna thought himself very powerful, but Sri Krishna surprised him, demanding the release of Nanda Baba. Varuna thus released Krishna's father and worshipped Nanda-nandana Krishna.
Prema-bhakti is the highest form of intoxication maddening one as it does.
Prema puts all other forms of intoxication to shame.
Davagni: The Forest Fire of Inner Hatred
The flames of disregard for the methods of worship and conception of God held by other communities can consume the sadhaka. One must understand the virtues of raga-marga bhakti and often point out the shortcomings of other paths for the benefit of others. One must also sing the virtues of Sri Krishna exclusively to intensify one's own bhajana. Yet one must also think that others who worship other conceptions of God are worshipping Sri Krishna in one of his many forms. Demigods like Shiva, Brahma, Ganapati, and avataras such as Vishnu, Rama, Narasingha, Varaha, and others are all manifestations of the Lord for either specific functions or the experience of emotional states in reciprocity with various devotees. Sri Krishna swallows the forest fire of inner hatred concealed by external worship of himself. Thus he saves those unaware of the extent of his glories from burning in the fire of sectarianism.
BY PURU DAS ADHIKARI
EDITORIAL, Jul 14 (VNN) — The Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library is happy to present, for the assembled devotees, three articles by the His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, our beloved grand spiritual master. These three articles all appeared in sequence in January, February and March of l932. We gratefully acknowledge the source of these articles. They were retyped from the Vrajraj Press translation work of Bhumipati Das and Editing and publishing effort of Pundarika Vidyanidhi Das of the appendixes to Sri Krsna-samhita, of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, copyright Vrajraj Press l998.
Each of the demons written about by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura represent different anarthas to be overcome in the pursuit of suddha bhakti. They are delineated by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura Prabhupada in his Sri Caitanya Shikshamrtam, published by the Sri Gaudiya Math, Chennai, l998, originally published by the Thakura in 1886. These metaphors are presented before each of the three articles by his son and successor, His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, as well as a closing paragraph from the same work by Srila Bhaktivinoda for further clarification.
We offer our dandavat pranams to the lotus feet of our beloved diksa Gurudev His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, by whose mercy we became aware of the identity of these great Vaisnavas, and to the lotus feet of our beloved siksa Gurudev His Divine Grace Srila B.V. Narayana Maharaja who is helping us to further appreciate their glories.
Compiled this 12th day of July, l999 in honor of the disappearance day of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura Prabhupada.
"The conduct of Shri Krishna is two fold i.e., eternal and occasional. In Goloka, eternal conduct and astakaliya leela exists at all times. In Bhauma Vrndavana that astakaliya leela is mixed up with occasional leela. Going from Vraja and coming back and killing Asuras are occasional leela. Such work is inevitable on the part of the aspirant while he lives in this material world. Occasional leela is in existence at Goloka in a negative way. Only in this world has that been practically exhibited. For the aspirants, occasional leela which are adverse to the eternal leela have been reflected for the instruction of the devotees, aspirants will hope that those leelas will destroy their own evil.
Occasional leelas are:
(1) Killing of Putana- Putana is a deceitful Guru, teaching enjoyment and salvation. So crafty sadhus who are fond of these represent Putana-tattva. For showing mercy to His pure devotees, child Krishna kills Putana to safeguard His new born feeling in their hearts. (Sri Caitanya Shikshamritam p. 242.)
The following essay was printed in the January l932 edition of The Harmonist, or Sree Sajjanatoshani
The first act of New-born Infant Krishna recorded by the Bhagabatam is the slaying of the demoness Putana.
The demoness Putana was deputed by King Kansa to kill all the newborn babies of the realm of Brag where the Divine sage Nard that his would-be slayer had been recently born informed him. Meanwhile Sherrie Krishna had been born in Kansa's prison and had been conveyed by His father Versed to the house of His foster parents Nana and Yasoda in Braja during the night of His advent. The guards of the prison had failed to detect the movements of Vasudeb who had returned to his prison with the new-born daughter of Yosoda with whom he had exchanged His own Boy without the knowledge of Yadosa herself. Vasudeb had carried Krishna in his arms across the flooded Yamaha lashed into fury by the tempestuous water of that moon-less night. He had waded on foot the deep waters which had been turned into yawning whirlpools by the fury of the tempest. The iron chains, bolts and locks of the barred gates of the prison had opened of their own accord on the approach of Vasudeb carrying Krishna to the home of His foster parents. The daughter of Yasoda was thereupon duly reported to King Kansa as the new-born-dreaded eighth issue of Devaki. The King rushed into the prison-cell on receipt of the tidings for which he had been waiting through long years of sleepless nights.
He was at first willing to spare the life of the baby as the prophecy was to the effect that he would be killed by a male child, eighth issue of Vasudev and Devaki But he thought of being relieved of all possible doubts on the point by putting to death the new-born girl. As, however, King Kansa was on the point of dashing the baby on the block she escaped from the grip of the King and disclosing herself as the Deluding Energy of Godhead as she remained visible for a short time in mid-sky, assured the King of the certainty of the birth of his future slayer but dissuading him form the fruitless attempt of avoiding his fate by the cruel murder of innocent infants. Saying this Mahamaya disappeared from the view of the astounded King. Kansa was subsequently informed by the sage Narada that his future slayer must have been born among the denizens of Brag and that he was mindful of his safety he should lose no time in taking drastic measures for nipping the danger in the bud. This advice was relished by the blood-thirsty coward and he has accordingly deputed the demoness Putana to kill by an unsuspected process all the new-born infants of the surrounding country.
The demoness Putana accordingly made her appearance in Braja and presented herself in the home of Yasoda during the absence of Nanda who was then in Mathura to pay the tribute due from him to King Kansa. The demoness has assumed the form of a most beautiful matron with a most benignant aspect as she approached the couch where Infant Krishna had been put to sleep by Yasoda. Yasoda noticed the unknown female as she entered the house, but did not suspect any foul play. She accordingly watched the new-comer without any anxiety as she made her way to the couch of the Baby, took Him up in her arms and offered her breast to the Infant to give Him to suck. But the nipples of Putana's breast has been tipped with the deadliest poison.
The infant Krishna was aware of the intention of the demoness and took
hold of the breast of the monster with His supple Arms. The grip of the
Infant was so terribly severe that it was enough to drive the demoness
to despair of her life as she was convulsed by the mortal agony of the
pressure of Krishna's little Hands. The Infant then applied His lips to
the breast of Putana and sucked away her life in an instant. The terrible
monster bellowing with pain was compelled to disclose her own huge, loathsome
demoniac form as she fell lifeless on the ground covering with her hideous
carcass a long distance with Infant Krishna still clinging to her poisoned
Accordingly the first act of the milkmaids, who with Yasoda rushed to the spot, was to snatch the Infant Krishna from the breast of the terrible demoness. Then they all marveled how the Baby could escape unhurt from the clutches of the demoness. They attributed the safety of the Infant to the mercy of the gods who are especially kind to the helpless. The affrighted milkmaids invoked the help of all the gods and goddesses for their continued protection of the Infant.
Meanwhile, Putana was saved by her service to Krishna for having offered Him the suck of her poisoned breast. The author of the Bhagabatam is careful to mention that the good fortune of the demoness equaled that of Yasoda in as much as her breast had been sucked by Krishna. Putana, therefore, attained to the eternal status of the foster-mothers of the Supreme Lord in the Realm of the Absolute.
The above narrative of the Bhagabatam embodies a most important moral for the seekers of the Absolute. But before offering the interpretations of the texts favored by the former Acharyas I would like to draw the attention of the reader to certain possible misconceptions regarding the nature of the interpretations about to be offered.
The transcendental meaning of the words cannot be conveyed to the senses
of the conditioned soul so long as he does not agree to follow the method
of submissive listening to the transcendental sound appearing on the lips
of the pure devotee. There is a definite line of succession of the bonafide
teachers of the truth. The bonafide teacher should be available sooner
or later to the real seeker of the Truth. The bonafide Acarya is not recognizable
by the hypocrites and atheists who do not really want to serve Godhead.
So long therefore, as the bonafide teacher does not manifest his appearance
to the pure cognitive essence of the seeker of the Absolute Truth it is
necessary for the candidate for spiritual enlightenment to concentrate
on self-examination to be able to avoid harboring any lurking traces of
insincerity. The words of the sadhu are also available, by his causeless
mercy, for bearing the efforts of such candidates, for finding out their
It is by overlooking or deliberately neglecting to undergo this preliminary training for obtaining access to the transcendental meaning of all words that the literal interpretationists who follow the ordinary lexicographical meaning of the words of the scriptures fail to understand the necessity of never deviating from the interpretations offered by the self-realized souls to whom the transcendental meaning of the words is available. Those empiricists who, while following the lexicographical and syntactical method of the literal interpretationists, do not scruple to read their own meanings into the texts under the impression that the scriptures and the products of the human brain liable to every form of error and, therefore, fit to be corrected by the equally erring caprices of other hypothetical thinkers on the ground of allegations of error that cannot be proved, are disposed to think that the interpretations offered by the Acharyas are not scrupulously faithful to the texts and offer allegorical explanations for supporting their own sectarian views.
These possible misunderstandings are stated to invite the attention of the reader to their bearing on the following interpretation of the narrative of Putana based on the exposition of the former Acaryas heard from the lips of the bonafide teacher of the Absolute. The interpretation is not offered as a literal lexicographical explanation nor as an allegory concocted in the light of empiric knowledge of the past history of the race and may accordingly be accepted as such. Shree Krishna manifests His Eternal birth in the pure cognitive essence of the serving soul who is located above all mundane limitations. King Kansa is the typical aggressive empiricist. He is ever on the look-out for the Appearance of the Truth for the purpose of suppressing Him before He has time to grow up. This is no exaggeration of the real connotation of the consistent empiric position. The materialist has a natural repugnance for the transcendental. He is disposed to think that faith in the incomprehensible is the parent of dogmatism and hypocrisy under the guise of religion. He is also equally under the delusion that there is and can be no really dividing line between the material and the spiritual. He is strengthened in his delusion by the interpretation of the scriptures by persons whoa re like-minded with himself. This included all the lexicographical interpreters. The lexicographical interpretation is upheld by Kansa as the real scientific explanation of the Scriptures and one that is perfectly in keeping with his dread of an aversion of the transcendental. These lexicographical interpreters are employed by Kansa in purring down the first suspected appearance of any genuine faith in the transcendental. King Kansa knows very well that if the faith in the transcendental is once allowed to grow it is sure to upset all his empiric prospects. There is historical ground for such misgivings.
Accordingly if the empiric domination is to be preserved intact it would be necessary not to lose a moment to put down the transcendental heresy the instant it threatens to make its appearance in right earnest. King Kansa acting on this transitional fear is never slow to take the scientific precaution of debuting empiric teachers of the scriptures backed by the resources of Dictionary and Grammar and all empiric subtleties to put down, by the show of spacious arguments based on hypothetical principles, the true interpretation of the eternal religion revealed by the scriptures. Kansa is strongly persuaded that the faith in the transcendental can be effectively put down by empiricism if prompt and decisive measures are adopted at the very outset. He attributes the failures of atheism in the past to the neglect of the adoption of such measures before the theistic fallacy has time to spread among the fanatical masses.
But Kansa is found to count without his host. When Krishna is born He is found to be able to upset all sinister designs against those who are apprised by Himself of His Advent. The apparently causeless faith displayed by persons irrespective of age, sex and condition may confound all rabid empiricists who are on principle averse to the Absolute Truth Whose Appearance is utterly incompatible with the domination of empiricism. But no adverse efforts of the empiricists, whose rule seems till then to be perfectly well-established over the minds of the deluded souls of this world, can dissuade any person from exclusively following the Truth when He actually manifests His birth in the pure cognitive essence of His soul.
Putana is the layer of all infants. The baby, when he or she comes out of the mother's womb, falls at once into the clutches of the pseudo-teachers of religion. These teacher are successful in forestalling the attempts of the good preceptor whose help is never sought by the atheists of this world at the baptisms of their children. This is ensured by the arrangements of all the established churches of the world. They have been successful only in supplying watchful Putanas for effecting the spiritual destruction of persons from the moment of their birth with the co-operation of their worldly parents. No human contrivance can prevent these Putanas from obtaining possession of the pulpits. This is due to the general prevalence of atheistic disposition in the people of this world. The church that has the best chance of survival in this damned world is that of atheism under the convenient guise of theism. The churches have always proved the staunchest upholders of the grossest forms of worldliness from which even the worst of non-ecclesiastical criminals are bound to recoil.
It is not from any deliberate opposition to the ordained clergy that these observations are made. The original purpose of the established churches of the world may not be always objectionable. But no stable religious arrangement for instructing the masses has yet been successful. The supreme Lord Shree Krishna Chaitanya in pursuance of the teaching of the scriptures enjoins all absence of conventionalism for the teachers of the eternal religion. It does not follow that the mechanical adoption of the unconventional life by any person will make him a fit teacher of religion. Regulation is necessary for controlling the inherent worldliness of conditioned souls. But no mechanical regulation has any value even for such a purpose. The bonafide teacher of the religion is neither any product nor the favorer of any mechanical system. In his hands no system has likewise the chance of degenerating is not a lifeless arrangement. The mere pursuit of fixed doctrines and fixed liturgies cannot hold a person to the true spirit of doctrine or liturgy.
The idea of an organized church in an intelligible form, indeed, marks the close of the living spiritual movement. The great ecclesiastical establishments are the dykes and the dams to retain the current that cannot be held by any such contrivances. They, indeed, indicate a desire on the part of the masses to exploit a spiritual movement for their own purpose. They also unmistakably indicate the end of the absolute and unconventional guidance of the bonafide spiritual teacher. The people of this world understand preventive systems, they can have no idea of the unprevented positive eternal life. Neither can there be any earthly contrivance for the permanent preservation of the life eternal on this mundane plane on the popular scale.
Those are, therefore, greatly mistaken who are disposed to look forward
to the amelioration of the worldly state in any worldly sense from the
worldly success of any really spiritual movement. It is these worldly expectants
who become the patrons of the mischievous race of the pseudo-teachers of
religion. the Putanas, whose congenial function is to stifle the theistic
disposition at the very moment of its suspected appearance. But the real
theistic disposition can never be stifled even by the efforts of those
Putanas. The Putanas have power only over the atheists. It is a thankless
but salutary task which they perform for the benefit of their willing victims.
But as soon as the theistic disposition proper makes its appearance in the pure cognitive essence of the awakened soul the Putanas are decisively silences at the very earliest stage of their encounter with new-born Krishna. The would-be slayer is herself slain. This is the reward of the negative services that the Putanas unwittingly render to the cause of theism by strangling all hypocritical demonstrations against their own hypocrisy But Putana does not at all like to receive her reward in the only form which involves the total destruction of her wrong personality. King Kansa also does not like to lose the service of the most trusted of his agents. The effective silencing of the whole race of the pseudo-teachers of religion is the very first clear indication of the Appearance of the Absolute on the mundane plane. The bonafide teacher of the Absolute heralds the Advent of Krishna by his uncompromising campaign against the pseudo-teachers of religion.
(end of part 1)
From our Sri Vaishnava brethren...............
Date:Tue Aug 26 1997 - 06:34:23 PDT
GovindEti SadAsthanam GovindEti Sada Japam
GovindEti Sada Dhyanam Sada Govinda Keertanam
SarvOpanishadO Gavo Doghdha Gopala Nandana:
Parthovatsa Sudhir Bhokta Dugdham Geetamrutamahath
On the occassion of Sri Krishna Jayanti, I would like to offer my tribute to the Lord through the Pasurams of Sri Kulashekara Azhwar from the seventh decad of Perumal Tirumozhi. My summary is based on a translation of these Pasurams by Sri Ananthanarasimhachar (Bangalore), Sri Karyam Srimad Paundarikapuram Ashramam.
Kulashekara Azhwar was a Chola king who ruled over Kerala. One of the Sanskrit Tanians (laudatory verses) in praise of the Azhwar is:
Kumbhe Punarvasubhavam KeraLE Chola PattaNe
Kaustubhamsham Dharadeesham KulashekaramashrayE
(I seek refuge in King Kulashekara of KeraLa, who was born in the month of Kumbha [Feb-March] under the asterism of Punarvasu as an Amsham of the Kaustubha gem of Lord Narayana).
The uniqueness of Rajarishi Kulashekara is that he is the only Azhwar, to be addressed as "Perumal". It is interesting to note that the Azhwar shares the janma nakshatram of his Abhimana Daivam Lord Rama. The Azhwar desired daily pilgrimage to Srirangam so that he could constantly enjoy the Anubhavam of his favorite Lord Rama, reclining on the serpent bed of Srirangam as Lord Ranganatha, and spend his time in the company of Bhagavatas. Sri Kulashekara Azhwar's contributions to the Divya Prabandham consists of ten decads. Each decad is devoted to the Anubhavam of a particular feature of the Lord. The language of his poetry is very simple.
In the first decad, the Azhwar commences by stating his wish to be constantly
by the side of Lord Ranganatha. The fourth decad is devoted to the Lord
of Seven Hills in which the Azhwar literally provides a guided tour of
the path to the Lotus feet of Tiruvenkatan. The fifth decad is devoted
to SharaNagati to the Lord of Tiruvithkodu. In the sixth decad, Kulashekara
Azhwar dons the Nayaki Bhavam and portrays himself as a Gopi of Brindavan,
pining for Lord Krishna's company. The seventh decad describes Devaki's
anguish at being unable to experience the childhood of Lord Krishna. The
eighth and ninth decad are devoted to the Rama Avataram, in which the love
of a mother for her son and a father for his son, respectively, are depicted.
Finally, Rajarishi Kulashekara concludes the tenth decad with a summary
of the Ramayana.
In the seventh decad of Perumal Tirumozhi, the Azhwar assumes the role of Devaki, who could not enjoy the Lord Krishna's childhood although she gave birth to him. In this set of ten Pasurams the Azhwar brings out Devaki's distress with consummate effect.
1. Lullaby to you resembling a long sugarcane fixed in a cane crusher; lullaby to you with broad eyes resembling a lotus; lullaby to you with an attractive body resembling the color of the sea; lullaby to you with a gait resembling that of a small elephant; lullaby to you oh my son with long sweet hair; reciting these words now and then I say lullaby to you to my heart's content. I am the most unfortunate amongst the unfortunate mothers.
2. Gazing intently at a toy tied above the cradle with your lotus like eyes made more beautiful by Kajal; folding your tiny feet like lotus and the dark upper portion resembling dark rain-bearing clouds; folding your beautiful little fingers in your palm; the beauty of your posture lying in the cradle like a tiny elephant, oh! I was not fortunate to see and enjoy, oh! Kesava what a sinner am I?
3. It has been the tradition that the ladies in the family take the child turn by turn in their waist and lap with love. Oh! my God! bright jewel of our family! oh! the one with a beautiful body like a cloud ready to rain! oh! one resembling a lion! If asked who your father is, your beautiful fingers and your side glances will point at Nanda. My husband, Vasudeva, having not done adequate good deeds, did not have this previlege.
4. Oh Krishna! Your face comparable to the moon light of the full moon, with well grown hands and chest, strong hands, your face shining in the background of black curly hair with fresh flowers, eyes resembling a large lotus, I am absorbed in seeing your beauty now as a youth. How unfortunate I have been that I did not have the opportunity to see you in your childhood when a child does not leave its mother? Being cheated thus, sinner that I am, I cannot bear this life.
5. (As a child,) the movement of your culy hair over your face; kissing
with your beautiful mouth; beauty of your body; resembling that of your
father; seeing your childish pranks, feeling elated inernally; putting
your fingers in your small reddish mouth; uttering words stammering when
you get angry; I, the unfortunate one, have not experienced or enjoyed
any of the above. Yashoda, equal to a celestial lady experienced all of
them. This Pasuram is instructive in that Devaki offers tribute to Yashoda
for the latter's Bhagyam for being privy to all the childhood pranks of
Lord Krishna. The reference to celestial lady is in the context of the
incident where Yashoda successfully tied up Lord Krishna to the mortar.
It must be remembered that Yashoda tried several times in vain to tie up
Each time she tried, Yashoda found to her amazement that the rope was a little short. Determined to accomplish her mission, Yashoda lengthened the rope in every attempt only to find that the rope was not long enough. Exasperated in her efforts, and realizing the futility of her endeavor, Yashoda implored to the Lord to be bound (by way of scolding the child). Lo and behold! the rope was sufficiently long to tie up the Lord. Thus, Yashoda succeeded where even Parama Yogis, Devas and Maharishis came up short. Brahma, accompanied by the other Devas, Rishis, witnessed this incident and poured out tears of joy at the good fortune of Yashoda who had obtained the grace of Parama Purushan. One may also relate the Vishnu Sahasranamam salutation Agrahya Shashavata KrishNo to this incident.
6. Oh! Lotus eyed Krishna! Your unsteady walking, falling down and getting up (as a child); your playing in the red dust and embracing me immediately after, I did not experience. Oh! your taking food with all the five fingers of your little hand and putting it in your mouth; I was not fortunate enough to eat the food left by you in the plate. I am a great sinner. Oh why did my mother give birth to me?
7. Oh kind hearted one! Oh my beautiful child! Oh Govinda! when I hold you in my right hand, you skid like a flood of beauty (to my lap), with your tender hand rubbing the tip of my breast while your mouth is in my other breast and in between you smile looking at my face. I lost the opportunity of the benefit of your sacred grace by sending you away immediately after birth.
8. You were found licking your hands after dipping it in a pot of butter. When you were beaten with a rope on your small and soft hand, you were standing with a guilty look; your beautiful red lips quivering; you were apologzing with folded hands; Yashoda who saw these with her own eyes realized "Parabrahman" and enjoyed eternal bliss. This Pasuram has several fold meanings and deep philosophical significance. Due to limitations of time and space, I shall not discuss it in this post. I also request scholars like Sriman Sadagopan, Rengarajan, Sundararajan and Anbil Ramaswamy to contribute their inputs with regard to this Pasuram. Some of the discussion following the fifth Pasuram is applicable here too.
9. Holding Govardhana hill as an umbrella; your playing Rasakrida with the Gopis; your dancing with a calf (Vatsasura in the form of a calf); throwing a bela fruit (Kapithasura in the form of a bela fruit) both of them were killed; trodding on the hoods of Kalinga;thinking of your victorious childhood deeds as above makes my mind elated. I have not been fortunate to see any of your deeds. Please bless me in case there are any opportunities to see your deeds in future.
10. Demoness Putana came to you with a mind to cheat you and you made her muscles come out and nerves weakened (through sucking her breast). Oh what a wonder! You sucked her round breast full of poison as if it is tasty (by your grace even poison becomes Amritam. One can see the connections to Prahlada's partaking of poison in the same spirit) and grew up. You took away the life of Kamsa. Oh my Lord! resembling dark clouds! by having purposeless breasts, I stand condemned. Except my life, I havenothing useful. You have got mothers (Yashoda and Putana) befitting you.
11. Lord in the Krishna Avataram helped Kamsa, the King of wealthy and great Madhura, to attain bliss. In this Avataram Krishna's limitless and extraordinary exploits could not be seen by Devaki even though she gave birth to him. These Tamil songs bringing out the melancholy of Devaki was sung by Kulashekara, the king of Kolli, who adores the feet of the Lord as an ornament on his head, in a sweet tune. Those who recite these songs with understanding will attain Vaikuntam, the abode of Lord Narayana. I conclude this post with the Dhyana Shlokam of Lord Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita:
Vasudavasutam Devam Kamsa Chanura Mardhanam
Devaki Paramanandam Krishnam VandE Jagadgurum
(I salute Krishna, the son of Vasudeva, who killed Kamsa, Chanura, [who is] the supreme delight of Devaki, and who is the teacher of the universe).
Shanka Chakra GadApaaNE Dwaraka NilayAchyuta
Govinda PundarikAksha RakshamAm SharaNagatam
(Oh Lord! who holds the conch, discus, and mace in his hand, who lives in Dwaraka, protector of his devotees, Govinda, lotus eyed one! protect me who has surrendered to you).