Sadhu Sanga

On Who To Associate With:
All Perfections Come from Bhakti-yoga
Avoiding Bad Association:
.....Abandon Taking Material Association:
The purpose behind our Shaligram Tirtha web-site

Who is a Vaishnava?

Different kinds of Devotees

Own-men, and "isms"

World Vaisnava Association

Our family the Gaudiya math - Vaishnava relations:

Becoming Krishna's first instalment:

Bhaktivinod Thakur on "communities of Vaishnavas" free from sadhu-ninda 

Six kinds of positive loving exchanges with devotees.....

Positive association with like minded devotees........

The great test of death will our devotion and dedication:

Letter to: Tamala Krsna dasa from ACBSP

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On Who To Associate With:

matir na kåñëe parataù svato vä
mitho ’bhépadyeta gåha-vratänäm
adänta-gobhir viçatäà tamisraà

 “[Prahläda Mahäräja said:] Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Kåñëa are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both” (SB 7.5.30).
Those with uncontrolled senses can never know Kåñëa themselves, and if an aspiring devotee associates with them, he will also lose his ability to know Kåñëa.

Association with nondevotees takes place in many ways, aside from face-to-face encounters. Through books, movies, gathering places—the possibilities of contact are unlimited. Especially nowadays, a person may apparently live alone in a city apartment and yet be completely immersed in bad association through mass media and technological entertainment. It takes deliberate cultivation, and a fight, to remove oneself from bad influences.
One may object to these injunctions and claim, “God is everywhere! Why say that certain people are bad?” The topmost devotee, the mahä-bhägavata, can see all persons as perfect servants of God. He humbly thinks that everyone is a servant of the Lord except himself. But another qualification of a mahä-bhägavata is that he always thinks of Kåñëa and never forgets Him for a moment. One should not imitate one aspect of the mahä-bhägavata’s activities while lacking his qualifications. In other words, on the plea of following the example of the great devotees, one should not indulge in bad association and claim, “It’s all Kåñëa.”
The great majority of devotees have to make an effort to come up from the lower (kaniñöha) stage of devotion, where one sees God only in the temple. They have to strive to reach the second stage (madhyama), where one acknowledges that God is in everyone’s heart and yet discriminates in his relationships. The madhyama-bhakta saves his love for the Supreme Lord, makes friendships with like-minded devotees, shows compassion to innocent persons, and avoids the demons. He takes seriously the following injunction from the Kätyäyana-saàhitä: “It is better to accept the miseries of being encaged within bars and surrounded by burning flames than to associate with those bereft of Kåñëa consciousness. Such association is a very great hardship” (Cc. Madhya 22.91).
(ACBSP sisya SDG. Sri Narad Bhakti Sutras 43 purport excerpt)

All Perfections Come from Bhakti-yoga

Whatever exists—manifest or unmanifest, material or spiritual—has one primary source: the Supreme Lord, Kåñëa. He is the primeval, supreme controller, the cause of all causes, the Lord of all lords. As the Supersoul within the heart, He inspires all the activities of a transcendentally situated devotee. Those who possess true knowledge of the Absolute can render service to Lord Kåñëa in the mood of a servitor, a friend, and so on. Their hearts are always absorbed in thoughts of Lord Kåñëa, and they yearn to perceive and relish His eternal, transcendental pastimes.

By the grace of the Supreme Lord, these unalloyed devotees can unravel the mysteries of His intimate worship. Then, due to their love for the Lord, they find it difficult to maintain their lives without hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord’s name, form, qualities, pastimes, associates, and paraphernalia. They seek the association of like-minded devotees, and with them they dive into the ocean of the nectar of devotion. Situated in their spiritual identity, they relish spiritual exchanges and hear, discuss, and remember the all-auspicious topics of Lord Kåñëa’s transcendental pastimes, thus practising the ninefold devotional process.

They execute this ninefold devotional service in the stage of sädhana, or practice, and feel deep satisfaction in the perfected, or siddha, stage. They become saturated with the transcendental spiritual mellows of servitorship, friendship, and so on, from which they derive divine ecstasy. Lord Kåñëa grants genuine transcendental understanding, buddhi-yoga, to those devotees who experience spiritual satisfaction and divine bliss through constant devotional service; gradually their specific devotional attitude increases to the point where they can relish pure love of God.

In the stage of bhäva, or spontaneous devotional service in ecstasy, there is a direct transcendental exchange of mellows between Lord Kåñëa and His pure devotee. The Supreme Lord Himself gives His devotee buddhi-yoga, or spiritual intelligence, and the devotee, acting with that intelligence, serves the Lord until he gradually approaches the Lord’s supreme abode. Such a devotee can never be affected by ignorance.

The impersonalists and empiric philosophers consider the unalloyed devotees of the Lord sentimental fools, and thus they deride them. This is a big offense. Such offences cause the impersonalists and pseudo-devotees to slowly become demoniac. Having lost good sense and a stable mind, they gradually develop animosity toward the Supreme Lord and find all their life’s endeavors reduced to suffering and futility. If one of these deluded demoniac impersonalists comes in contact with a pure devotee and by his mercy regains his lost insight, then he can begin to understand that the pure devotees he offended are exchanging spiritual mellows with Lord Kåñëa and are thus forever free from ignorance and illusion. The impersonalists must understand that the Supreme Lord, acting from within as the Supersoul, removes all ignorance from the devotee’s heart. As Lord Kåñëa states in the Bhagavad-gétä (10.11):

teñäm evänukampärtham
aham ajïäna-jaà tamaù
näçayämy ätma-bhäva-stho
jïäna-dépena bhäsvatä

To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.

The dry speculative philosophers may kindly note one  point: By using the word teñäm, Lord Kåñëa openly declares that He is always merciful to His surrendered devotees. The reason that the Lord expands Himself as the Supersoul and enters everyone’s heart is not to bless the empiric philosophers and yogés but to bless the devotees from within. If the Supreme Lord Himself wishes to enlighten the devotees with spiritual knowledge and gradually draw them closer to Him, then what question is there of such devotees ever coming under the spell of nescience? Rather, it is out of nescience only that the empiric philosophers try to approach the Supreme Truth on the strength of their own intellect. We know that the Supreme Lord can dissipate the darkness of ignorance with the spiritual effulgence emanating from His body. Can the empiricists do the same? One can never lift the gloom of nescience by one’s own efforts. Empiricists such as the atheist Kapila, unable to reach enlightenment by their own efforts, feel great relief in trying to explain away the Absolute Truth as unknowable and unmanifest. But great suffering befalls these dry speculators attached to the theory of the unmanifest Absolute, as Lord Kåñëa confirms  in the Bhagavad-gétä (12.5):

kleço ’dhikataras teñäm
avyaktä hi gatir duùkhaà
dehavadbhir aväpyate

For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.
The austerities a monist performs are painful both during the initial stage of practice (sädhana) and when he has supposedly reached perfection. The impersonalists suffer excruciating pains trying to establish the oneness of matter and spirit through speculative theories. Thinking that Brahman is impotent, through sophistry they try to equate the Lord’s inferior, material energy with His superior, spiritual energy, thus reaping ridicule from truly learned circles. In attempting to prove that the Absolute Truth cannot be the Supreme Personality of Godhead with unlimited energies, they argue that this would mean immutable Brahman is actually mutable. Thus their logic loses all cohesion and they become a laughingstock. In trying to refute the established theory of pariëäma-väda, or the “transformation of energy,” they accuse Çréla Vyäsadeva of being mistaken when he says that the material universe and the living entities are all transformations of the Lord’s energy and are therefore real, not false. Thus in their philosophical discussions the monists reject the main purport and essence of all Vedic scriptures and their corollaries and hang on to nonessential injunctions, such as tat tvam asi, “You are that.” They like to deliberate on these subpoints, but when confronted with the arguments of a learned Vaiñëava, they turn and run from the battlefront.

Without understanding that the Supreme Lord is a transcendental personality, the monists make futile and grossly mundane attempts at restraining their senses, meditating on the Lord’s impersonal aspect as the ultimate and original Absolute Truth. As it is impossible to dam a flooding river, so it is impossible to control the senses by meditating on the impersonal Brahman. As the great sage Sanat Kumära says in the Çrémad-Bhägavatam (4.22.39):

karmäçayaà grathitam udgrathayanti santaù
tadvan na rikta-matayo yatayo ’pi ruddha-
sroto-gaëäs tam araëaà bhaja väsudevam

The devotees, who are always engaged in the service of the toes of the lotus feet of the Lord, can easily overcome hard-knotted desires for fruitive activities. Because this is very difficult, the nondevotees—the jïänés and yogés—although trying to stop the waves of sense gratification, cannot do so. Therefore you are advised to engage in the devotional service of Kåñëa, the son of Vasudeva.

Lord Viñëu’s impersonal aspect is known as Brahman. So when the jéva soul, a product of Lord Viñëu’s superior, spiritual energy, attains säyujya-mukti, or liberation by merging with Brahman, it is not at all surprising. The energetic principle always enjoys the prerogative of enfolding within itself His own energy, but that does not destroy the energy’s eternal individuality. The impersonalists, desiring to merge with Brahman and knowing that it is feasible, still experience intense suffering in their effort to reach brahmänanda, “the bliss of Brahman.” The Lord’s devotees consider the pleasures of such liberation worse than hell. The impersonalists, in trying to destroy the illusion inherent in material forms, do away with even the eternal spiritual forms. That is indeed  very foolish. Treating a patient to cure his disease is one thing, but ending the patient along with the disease is the work of an idiot. Thus we have this instruction from the great authority Brahmä in the Çrémad-Bhägavatam (10.14.4):

çreya-såtià bhaktim udasya te vibho
kliçyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
teñäm asau kleçala eva çiñyate
nänyad yathä sthüla-tuñävaghätinäm

My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If one gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of speculative knowledge, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired result.  As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble.

Instead of becoming an impersonalist and inviting misfortune and misery, the devotee surrenders to Lord Kåñëa and never suffers in this world. When he leaves his present body, he transcends the material platform and becomes eligible to participate in the Lord’s eternal pastimes. As the Supersoul, Lord Kåñëa enlightens the devotee from within the heart and disperses the gloom of ignorance. The Lord gives the devotee the spiritual intelligence to attain Him. The ocean of nescience is very difficult to cross, but when the devotee attempts to cross it, the Lord Himself intervenes to help. Alone the devotee would surely drown, but with the Lord’s help he easily crosses over. Thus taking shelter of the Lord is the surest way to surmount the ocean of material existence. As Lord Kåñëa says in the Bhagavad-gétä (12.6–7)

ye tu sarväëi karmäëi
mayi sannyasya mat-paräù
ananyenaiva yogena
mäà dhyäyanta upäsate

teñäm ahaà samuddhartä
bhavämi na cirät pärtha
mayy äveçita-cetasäm

But those who worship Me, giving up all their activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, having fixed their minds upon Me, O son of Påthä—for them I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death.

Those who surrender to Lord Kåñëa, who repose their unflinching faith in the personal form of the Supreme Lord, offer him their mental and physical activities, along with everything else. With unalloyed, single-minded devotion unencumbered by desires for empirical knowledge, fruitive activity, or severe austerities, they worship and meditate on the eternal, beautiful, two-handed form of Lord Kåñëa playing a flute. Such pure devotees, their hearts saturated with love for Kåñëa, quickly and easily transcend the cycle of material existence, for Lord Kåñëa personally helps them. The merciful Lord promises to reciprocate with each one according to his degree of devotion.

The impersonalists are obsessed with the idea that the Supreme Being is impersonal and that the final goal is to merge into that Brahman existence. Naturally the Lord does not object. If a patient wants to end his disease by ending his life, then who will suffer but him? The more intelligent person will surely want to cure his disease  without ending his life, and to that end he will strive to regain his original health. Similarly, the soul infected with the material disease should want to return to his pure, original state without annihilating his individual identity. Lord Kåñëa saves such persons from the jaws of the demoniac conception of trying to become one with God. It is suicidal for the spirit soul to attempt to lose his inherent individuality. The happiness the impersonalist experiences by disentangling himself from the knots of material existence is automatically available to the Lord’s devotee as a by-product of devotional service. As the Näradéya Puräëa says,

One should not engage in fruitive activity or cultivate knowledge by mental speculation. One who is devoted to the Supreme Lord, Näräyaëa, can attain all the benefits derived from other processes, such as yoga, mental speculation, rituals, sacrifices, and charity. That is the specific benediction of devotional service.

And in the Kåñëa-karëämåta (107), Bilvamaìgala Öhäkura states:

bhaktis tvayi sthiratarä bhagavän yadi syäd
daivena naù phalati divya-kiçora-mürtiù
muktiù svayaà mukulitäïjali sevate ’sàän
dharmärtha-käma-gatayaù samaya-pratikñäù

O Lord! If our devotion to You is undeviating, then Your ever-youthful form will spontaneously manifest within our heart. At that time liberation personified will serve us like a maidservant, and religiosity, economic development, and sense gratification [the other three goals of the Vedas] will humbly await our bidding.

yä vai sädhana-sam pattiù
tayä vinä tad äpnoti
naro näräyaëäçrayaù

Even without the usual requirements for achieving the perfection of life, a person will gain that perfection if he is simply a surrendered devotee of Näräyaëa. (Näradiya Puräëa)

(Renunciation Through Wisdom chapter 2:13. All Perfections Come From Bhakti Yoga.)

Avoiding Bad Association:

dhyäyato viñayän puàsaù saìgas teñüpajäyate
saìgät saïjäyate kämaù kämät krodho ’bhijäyate
krodhäd bhavati sammohaù sammohät småti-vibhramaù
småti-bhraàçäd buddhi-näço buddhi-näçät praëaçyati

  “While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises. From anger complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.”

Bad association (duùsaìga) brings out the stored karmic tendencies for sin, thus activating one’s lower propensities. If an aspiring devotee hears the hedonists talk of lusty enjoyments, he may easily become agitated, since until he becomes pure he has many tendencies to enjoy worldly pleasures. As soon as he begins to think about the objects of pleasure, he will begin to desire them. Then he will attempt to fulfill his desires, and on being frustrated he will become angry. Thereafter he will lose his discrimination, become deluded, and so on. By keeping company with nondevotees, therefore, bad habits crop up one after another, and good qualities become ruined. As Lord Kapiladeva states (SB 3.31.32–33):

If, therefore, the living entity again associates with the path of unrighteousness, influenced by sensually-minded people engaged in the pursuit of sexual enjoyment and the gratification of the palate, he again goes to hell as before. He becomes devoid of truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy, gravity, spiritual intelligence, shyness, austerity, fame, forgiveness, control of the mind, control of the senses, fortune, and all such opportunities.

Not only “coarse fools” but even austere ascetics—if they are not devotees—are considered duùsaìga. Mental speculators, impersonal yogés, jïänés, and voidists may all adversely influence a devotee and turn him toward nondevotional paths. Bhagavän Äcärya, a follower of Lord Caitanya’s, insisted that he was immune to contamination because he was a fixed-up devotee of the Lord. But Svarüpa Dämodara Gosvämé replied that hearing talks on Mäyäväda philosophy “breaks the heart and life of a devotee” and should not be indulged in. Çréla Prabhupäda writes:

The Mäyävädé philosophers have presented their arguments in such attractive, flowery language that hearing Mäyäväda philosophy may sometimes change the mind of even a mahä-bhägavata, or very advanced devotee. An actual Vaiñëava cannot tolerate any philosophy that claims God and the living being to be one and the same. [Cc. Ädi 7.110, purport]

Considering the dangers of duùsaìga, even for a fully engaged sädhaka, we can see that Närada has not exaggerated these dangers or given a warning only for neophytes.
(ACBSP sisya SDG. Sri Narad Bhakti Sutras 4:44 purport excerpt)

.....Abandon Taking Material Association:

kas tarati kas tarati mäyäà yaù saìgaà tyajati yo mahänubhävaà sevate nirmamo bhavati

kaù—who; tarati—crosses beyond; kaù—who; tarati—crosses beyond; mäyäm—illusion; yaù—he who; saìgam—material association; tyajati—abandons; yaù—who; mahä-anubhävam—the wise person; sevate—serves; nirmamaù—free from false proprietorship; bhavati—becomes.

Who can cross beyond illusion? One who abandons material association, serves the sages, and becomes selfless.

Crossing over mäyä is sometimes compared to crossing an ocean. At the time of death the conditioned soul has to transmigrate to another material body, and even if he is born in a higher planet, he still has to suffer repeated birth and death. To cross the limits of this ocean of saàsära, he has to go back to Godhead. But this is very difficult, because any material desires, whether sinful or pious, will plunge the conditioned soul back into saàsära.

 However, Lord Kåñëa makes the process easy. In the Bhagavad-gétä (7.14) He states,

daivé hy eñä guëa-mayé mama mäyä duratyayä
mäm eva ye prapadyante mäyäm etäà taranti te

 “This divine energy of mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.”

Närada is now giving detailed information on how to surrender to Kåñëa and cross over the powerful ocean of illusion. In this sütra he mentions renouncing attachment, associating with great souls, and becoming free of possessiveness. One has to attempt all these and other favorable methods, but at the same time one must understand that he cannot swim across the ocean on his own. By one’s sincere acts of devotion, Kåñëa is moved to come to the rescue. Lord Kåñëa tells Arjuna, “But those who worship Me, giving up all their activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service—for them I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death” (Bg. 12.6–7). In his purport Çréla Prabhupäda states, “Simply by chanting the holy name of Kåñëa—Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare—a devotee of the Lord can approach the supreme destination easily and happily, but this destination cannot be approached by any other process of religion.”

As already stated, the mercy of the Lord is best obtained from His pure devotees. They enable one to take shelter of the Lord’s lotus feet, which act like a boat to carry one across the vast ocean of mäyä:

 O lotus-eyed Lord, by concentrating one’s meditation on Your lotus feet, which are the reservoir of all existence, and by accepting those lotus feet as the boat by which to cross the ocean of nescience, one follows in the footsteps of mahä-janas [great saints, sages, and devotees]. By this simple process, one can cross the ocean of nescience as easily as one steps over the hoofprint of a calf. [SB 10.2.30]
(ACBSP sisya SDG. Sri Narad Bhakti Sutras 4:46 text and purport)

The purpose behind our Shaligram Tirtha web-site

A sacred and solitary place, as mentioned in the Gétä, also refers to a place of pilgrimage. Çréla Prabhupäda writes, “In India the yogés—the transcendentalists or the devotees—all leave home and reside in sacred places such as Prayäga, Mathurä, Våndävana, Håñékeça, and Hardwar and in solitude practice yoga where the sacred rivers like the Yamunä and Ganges flow” (Bg. 6.11–12, purport). For devotees of Kåñëa, the most sacred place of pilgrimage is Mathurä-maëòala, the district that includes Mathurä and Våndävana. Rüpa Gosvämé recommends living in Mathurä-maëòala as one of the five main principles of bhakti-yoga, and Çréla Prabhupäda praises Mathurä-maëòala as follows in his summary study of Rüpa Gosvämé’s Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu:

 A pure devotee of Lord Kåñëa resides in the district of Mathurä or Våndävana and visits all the places where Kåñëa’s pastimes were performed.... Actually, if someone goes to Våndävana, he will immediately feel separation from Kåñëa, who performed such nice activities when He was present there. [The Nectar of Devotion, p. 139]

Çréla Prabhupäda worked hard for many years to establish temples in Våndävana and in Mäyäpura, the birthplace of Lord Caitanya, so that Westerners could come and be purified by living in the dhäma. Of Våndävana Çréla Prabhupäda states, “The places in the eighty-four-square-mile district of Mathurä are so beautifully situated on the banks of the river Yamunä that anyone who goes there will never want to return to this material world.... Transcendental feelings are aroused immediately without fail after one arrives in Mathurä or Våndävana” (The Nectar of Devotion, p. 111). The essential benefit of a solitary place is that it provides freedom from worldly people and passions. For devotees, this can best be attained in the dhäma, in the association of like-minded souls.

Närada also says that one who wants to overcome mäyä must break the bonds of material attachment and live above the modes of nature. These are some of the natural results of Kåñëa conscious life. In the Fourteenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gétä Lord Kåñëa describes how the three modes of nature—goodness, passion, and ignorance—bind the living entity in saàsära. To become free of the modes, one has to hear the truth from the spiritual master. Then one will gradually understand his original spiritual nature and how one is entrapped by the modes. If one lives in the association of transcendentalists and serves Lord Kåñëa along with them, one will not be controlled by the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance. The äcäryas tell us that living in the forest is in the mode of goodness, living in a town is in the mode of passion, and living in a brothel is in the mode of ignorance—but to live in a temple of Viñëu, in the society of devotees, is Vaikuëöha. Indeed, another meaning of “secluded and sacred place” is the temple of the Lord. Çréla Prabhupäda writes, “In this bhakti-yoga system, the temple is considered the sacred place. The temple is nirguëa, transcendental” (The Path of Perfection, p. 38).

Närada also recommends renouncing anxieties for acquisition and maintenance: yoga-kñemaà tyajati. Lord Kåñëa also mentions yoga-kñema in the Bhagavad-gétä (9.22):

ananyäç cintayanto mäà ye janäù paryupäsate
teñäà nityäbhiyuktänäà yoga-kñemaà vahämy aham

  “But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form—to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.”

Dependence on the Lord for maintenance is an advanced stage of spiritual life, but it is not based on imagination. The principle is that one should not want more than what is absolutely necessary. Wanting anything beyond that will simply cause anxiety. In any case, whether one is a poor brähmaëa, a mendicant sannyäsé, a businessman, or an administrator in a religious institution, he or she should realize that the Supreme Lord is the actual maintainer. If we live simply, engaging in Kåñëa’s service and not creating unnecessary demands, we will be able to reduce concerns for maintenance and enter the spirit of yoga-kñemaà tyajati, as recommended by Närada Muni.

(ACBSP sisya SDG. Sri Narad Bhakti Sutras 3:47 text and purport)

The Six kinds of loving exchanges between devotees.............
Nectar of Instruction - Upadeshamrtam of Srila Rupa Goswami purported by HDG Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

dadäti pratigåhëäti
guhyam äkhyäti påcchati
bhuìkte bhojayate caiva
ñaò-vidhaà préti-lakñaëam

dadäti—gives charity; pratigåhëäti—accepts in return; guhyam—confidential topics; äkhyäti—explains; påcchati—enquires; bhuìkte—eats; bhojayate—feeds; ca—also; eva—certainly; ñaö-vidham—six kinds; préti—of love; lakñaëam—symptoms.

Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasäda and offering prasäda are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another.

In this verse Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé explains how to perform devotional activities in the association of other devotees. There are six kinds of activities: (1) giving charity to the devotees, (2) accepting from the devotees whatever they may offer in return, (3) opening one’s mind to the devotees, (4) inquiring from them about the confidential service of the Lord, (5) honoring prasäda, or spiritual food, given by the devotees, and (6) feeding the devotees with prasäda. An experienced devotee explains, and an inexperienced devotee learns from him. This is guhyam äkhyäti påcchati. When a devotee distributes prasäda, remnants of food offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in order to maintain our spirit of devotional service we must accept this prasäda as the Lord’s grace received through the pure devotees. We should also invite pure devotees to our home, offer them prasäda and be prepared to please them in all respects. This is called bhuìkte bhojayate caiva.

Even in ordinary social activities, these six types of dealings between two loving friends are absolutely necessary. For instance, when one businessman wishes to contact another businessman he arranges a feast in a hotel, and over the feast openly expresses what he wishes to do. He then inquires from his business friend how he should act, and sometimes presents are exchanged. Thus whenever there is a dealing of préti, or love in intimate dealings, these six activities are executed. In the previous verse, Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé advised that one should renounce worldly association and keep company with the devotees (saìga-tyägät sato våtteù). The International Society for Krishna Consciousness has been established to facilitate these six kinds of loving exchanges between devotees. This Society was started single-handedly, but because people are coming forward and dealing with the give-and-take policy, the Society is now expanding all over the world. We are glad that people are donating very liberally to the development of the Society’s activities, and people are also eagerly accepting whatever humble contribution we are giving them in the shape of books and magazines dealing strictly with the subject matter of Kåñëa consciousness. We sometimes hold Hare Kåñëa festivals and invite life members and friends to participate in the feasting by accepting prasäda. Although most of our members come from the higher rungs of society, they nonetheless come and take whatever little prasäda we are able to offer them. Sometimes the members and supporters inquire very confidentially about the methods of performing devotional service, and we try to explain this. In this way our Society is successfully spreading all over the world, and the intelligentsia of all countries is gradually appreciating our Kåñëa conscious activities. The life of the Kåñëa conscious society is nourished by these six types of loving exchange among the members; therefore people must be given the chance to associate with the devotees of ISKCON because simply by reciprocating in the six ways mentioned above an ordinary man can fully revive his dormant Kåñëa consciousness. In Bhagavad-gétä (2.62) it is stated, saìgät saïjäyate kämaù: one’s desires and ambitions develop according to the company one keeps. It is often said that a man is known by his company, and if an ordinary man associates with devotees, he will certainly develop his dormant Kåñëa consciousness. The understanding of Kåñëa consciousness is innate in every living entity, and it is already developed to some extent when the living entity takes a human body. It is said in Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 22.107):

nitya-siddha kåñëa-prema ‘sädhya’ kabhu naya
çravaëädi-çuddha-citte karaye udaya

“Pure love for Kåñëa is eternally established in the hearts of living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, the living entity naturally awakens.” Since Kåñëa consciousness is inherent in every living entity, everyone should be given a chance to hear about Kåñëa. Simply by hearing and chanting—çravaëaà kértanam—one’s heart is directly purified, and one’s original Kåñëa consciousness is immediately awakened. Kåñëa consciousness is not artificially imposed upon the heart, it is already there. When one chants the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the heart is cleansed of all mundane contamination. In the first stanza of His Çré Çikñäñöaka, Lord Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu says:

ceto-darpaëa-märjanam bhava-mahä-dävägni-nirväpaëaà
çreyaù-kairava-candrikä-vitaraëaà vidyä-vadhü-jévanam
änandämbudhi-vardhanaà prati-padaà pürëämåtäsvädanaà
sarvätma-snapanaà paraà vijayate çré-kåñëa-saìkértanam
 [Cc. Antya 20.12]

“All glories to the Çré Kåñëa saìkértana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This saìkértana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.”

Not only is the chanter of the mahä-mantra purified, but the heart of anyone who happens to hear the transcendental vibration of Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare is also cleansed. Even the souls embodied in lower animals, insects, trees and other species of life also become purified and prepared to become fully Kåñëa conscious simply by hearing the transcendental vibration. This was explained by Öhäkura Haridäsa when Caitanya Mahäprabhu inquired from him how living entities lower than human beings can be delivered from material bondage. Haridäsa Öhäkura said that the chanting of the holy names is so powerful that even if one chants in the remotest parts of the jungle, the trees and animals will advance in Kåñëa consciousness simply by hearing the vibration. This was actually proved by Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu Himself when He passed through the forest of Jhärikhaëòa. At that time the tigers, snakes, deer and all other animals abandoned their natural animosity and began chanting and dancing in saìkértana. Of course, we cannot imitate the activities of Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu, but we should follow in His footsteps. We are not powerful enough to enchant the lower animals such as tigers, snakes, cats and dogs or entice them to dance, but by chanting the holy names of the Lord we can actually convert many people throughout the world to Kåñëa consciousness. Contributing or distributing the holy name of the Lord is a sublime example of contributing or giving charity (the dadäti principle). By the same token, one must also follow the pratigåhëäti principle and be willing and ready to receive the transcendental gift. One should inquire about the Kåñëa consciousness movement and open his mind in order to understand the situation of this material world. Thus the guhyam äkhyäti påcchati principles can be served.

The members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness invite the Society’s members and supporters to dine with them when they hold love feasts in all their branches every Sunday. Many interested people come to honor prasäda, and whenever possible they invite members of the Society to their homes and feed them sumptuously with prasäda. In this way both the members of the Society and the general public are benefited. People should give up the company of so-called yogés, jïänés, karmés and philanthropists because their association can benefit no one. If one really wants to attain the goal of human life, he should associate with devotees of the Kåñëa consciousness movement because it is the only movement that teaches one how to develop love of God. Religion is the special function of human society, and it constitutes the distinction between human society and animal society. Animal society has no church, mosque or religious system. In all parts of the world, however downtrodden human society may be, there is some system of religion. Even tribal aborigines in the jungles also have a system of religion. When a religious system develops and turns into love of God, it is successful. As stated in the First Canto of Çrémad-Bhägavatam (1.2.6):

sa vai puàsäà paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokñaje
ahaituky apratihatä
yayätmä suprasédati

“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted in order to completely satisfy the self.”
If the members of human society actually want Peace of mind, tranquillity and friendly relations between men and nations, they must follow the Kåñëa conscious system of religion, by which they can develop their dormant love for Kåñëa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As soon as people do so, their minds will immediately be filled with peace and tranquillity.

In this regard, Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura warns all devotees engaged in broadcasting the Kåñëa consciousness movement not to speak to the impersonalist Mäyävädés who are always determined to oppose such theistic movements. The world is full of Mäyävädés and atheists, and the political parties of the world take advantage of Mäyäväda and other atheistic philosophies to promote materialism. Sometimes they even back a strong party to oppose the Kåñëa consciousness movement.

The Mäyävädés and other atheists do not want the Kåñëa consciousness movement to develop because it educates people in God consciousness. Such is the policy of the atheists. There is no benefit in feeding a snake milk and bananas because the snake will never be satisfied. On the contrary, by taking milk and bananas the snake simply becomes more poisonous (kevalaà viña-vardhanam). If a snake is given milk to drink, its poison simply increases. For a similar reason, we should not disclose our minds to the serpent Mäyävädés and karmés. Such disclosures will never help. It is best to avoid association with them completely and never ask them about anything confidential because they cannot give good advice. Nor should we extend invitations to Mäyävädés and atheists nor accept their invitations, for by such intimate intermingling we may become affected by their atheistic mentality (saìgät saïjäyate kämaù). It is the negative injunction of this verse that we should refrain from giving anything to or accepting anything from the Mäyävädés and atheists. Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu has also warned, viñayéra anna khäile duñöa haya mana: “By eating food prepared by worldly people, one s mind becomes wicked. Unless one is very advanced, he is unable to utilize everyone’s contribution to further the Kåñëa consciousness movement; therefore on principle one should not accept charity from the Mäyävädés or atheists. Indeed, Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu has forbidden devotees to associate even with ordinary men who are too addicted to material sense gratification.

The conclusion is that we should always keep company with devotees, observe the regulative devotional principles, follow in the footsteps of the äcäryas and in full obedience carry out the orders of the spiritual master. In this way we shall be able to develop our devotional service and dormant Kåñëa consciousness. The devotee who is neither a neophyte nor a mahä-bhägavata (a greatly advanced devotee) but is within the middle status of devotional service is expected to love the Supreme Personality of Godhead, make friends with the devotees, show favor to the ignorant and reject the jealous and demoniac. In this verse there is brief mention of the process of making loving transactions with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and making friends with the devotees. According to the dadäti principle, an advanced devotee is supposed to spend at least fifty percent of his income on the service of the Lord and His devotees. Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé has set such an example in his life. When he decided to retire, he distributed fifty percent of his life’s earnings to Kåñëa’s service and twenty-five percent to his relatives and kept twenty-five percent for personal emergencies. This example should be followed by all devotees. Whatever one’s income, fifty percent should be spent on behalf of Kåñëa and His devotees, and this will fulfill the demands of dadäti.

In the next verse, Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé informs us what kind of Vaiñëava should be selected as a friend and how Vaiñëavas should be served.

kåñëeti yasya giri taà manasädriyeta
dékñästi cet praëatibhiç ca bhajantam éçam
çuçrüñayä bhajana-vijïam ananyam anya-
nindädi-çünya-hådam épsita-saìga-labdhyä

kåñëa—the holy name of Lord Kåñëa; iti—thus; yasya—of whom; giri—in the words or speech; tam—him; manasä—by the mind; ädriyeta—one must honour; dékñä—initiation; asti—there is; cet—if; praëatibhiù—by obeisances; ca—also; bhajantam—engaged in devotional service; éçam—unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead; çuçrüñayä—by practical service; bhajana-vijïam—one who is advanced in devotional service; ananyam—without deviation; anya-nindä-ädi—of blasphemy of others, etc;; çünya—completely devoid; hådam—whose heart; épsita—desirable; saìga—association; labdhyä—by gaining.

One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Kåñëa, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation [dékñä] 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.

In order to intelligently apply the sixfold loving reciprocations mentioned in the previous verse, one must select proper persons with careful discrimination. Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé therefore advises that we should meet with the Vaiñëavas in an appropriate way, according to their particular status. In this verse he tells us how to deal with three types of devotees—the kaniñöha-adhikäré, madhyama-adhikäré and uttama-adhikäré. The kaniñöha-adhikäré is a neophyte who has received the hari-näma initiation from the spiritual master and is trying to chant the holy name of Kåñëa. One should respect such a person within his mind as a kaniñöha-vaiñëava. A madhyama-adhikäré has received spiritual initiation from the spiritual master and has been fully engaged by him in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The madhyama-adhikäré should be considered to be situated midway in devotional service. The uttama-adhikäré, or highest devotee, is one who is very advanced in devotional service. An uttama-adhikäré is not interested in blaspheming others, his heart is completely clean, and he has attained the realized state of unalloyed Kåñëa consciousness. According to Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé, the association and service of such a mahä-bhägavata, or perfect Vaiñëava, are most desirable.

One should not remain a kaniñöha-adhikäré, one who is situated on the lowest platform of devotional service and is interested only in worshiping the Deity in the temple. Such a devotee is described in the Eleventh Canto of Çrémad-Bhägavatam (11.2.47):

arcäyäm eva haraye
püjäà yaù çraddhayehate
na tad-bhakteñu cänyeñu
sa bhaktaù präkåtaù småtaù

“A person who is very faithfully engaged in the worship of the Deity in the temple, but who does not know how to behave toward devotees or people in general is called a präkåta-bhakta, or kaniñöha-adhikäri.”
One therefore has to raise himself from the position of kaniñöha-adhikäré to the platform of madhyama-adhikäré. The madhyama-adhikäré is described in Çrémad-Bhägavatam (11.2.46) in this way:

éçvare tad-adhéneñu
bäliçeñu dviñatsu ca
yaù karoti sa madhyamaù

“The madhyama-adhikäré is a devotee who worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the highest object of love, makes friends with the Lord’s devotees, is merciful to the ignorant and avoids those who are envious by nature.”
This is the way to cultivate devotional service properly; therefore in this verse Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé has advised us how to treat various devotees. We can see from practical experience that there are different types of Vaiñëavas. The präkåta-sahajiyäs generally chant the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra, yet they are attached to women, money and intoxication. Although such persons may chant the holy name of the Lord, they are not yet properly purified. Such people should be respected within one’s mind, but their association should be avoided. Those who are innocent but simply carried away by bad association should be shown favor if they are eager to receive proper instructions from pure devotees, but those neophyte devotees who are actually initiated by the bona fide spiritual master and are seriously engaged in carrying out the orders of the spiritual master should be offered respectful obeisances.

In this Kåñëa consciousness movement a chance is given to everyone without discrimination of caste, creed or color. Everyone is invited to join this movement, sit with us, take prasäda and hear about Kåñëa. When we see that someone is actually interested in Kåñëa consciousness and wants to be initiated, we accept him as a disciple for the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. When a neophyte devotee is actually initiated and engaged in devotional service by the orders of the spiritual master, he should be accepted immediately as a bona fide Vaiñëava, and obeisances should be offered unto him. Out of many such Vaiñëavas, one may be found to be very seriously engaged in the service of the Lord and strictly following all the regulative principles, chanting the prescribed number of rounds on japa beads and always thinking of how to expand the Kåñëa consciousness movement. Such a Vaiñëava should be accepted as an uttama-adhikäré, a highly advanced devotee, and his association should always be sought.

The process by which a devotee becomes attached to Kåñëa is described in Caitanya-caritämåta (Antya 4.192):

dékñä-käle bhakta kare ätma-samarpaëa
sei-käle kåñëa täre kare ätma-sama

“At the time of initiation, when a devotee fully surrenders to the service of the Lord, Kåñëa accepts him to be as good as He Himself.”

Dékñä, or spiritual initiation, is explained in the Bhakti-sandarbha (868) by Çréla Jéva Gosvämé:

divyaà jïänaà yato dadyät
kuryät päpasya saìkñayam
tasmäd dékñeti sä proktä
deçikais tattva-kovidaiù

“By dékñä one gradually becomes disinterested in material enjoyment and gradually becomes interested in spiritual life.”

We have seen many practical examples of this, especially in Europe and America. Many students who come to us from rich and respectable families quickly lose all interest in material enjoyment and become very eager to enter into spiritual life. Although they come from very wealthy families, many of them accept living conditions that are not very comfortable. Indeed, for Kåñëa’s sake they are prepared to accept any living condition as long as they can live in the temple and associate with the Vaiñëavas. When one becomes so disinterested in material enjoyment, he becomes fit for initiation by the spiritual master. For the advancement of spiritual life Çrémad-Bhägavatam (6.1.13) prescribes: tapasä brahmacaryeëa çamena ca damena ca. When a person is serious about accepting dékñä, he must be prepared to practice austerity, celibacy and control of the mind and body. If one is so prepared and is desirous of receiving spiritual enlightenment (divyaà jïänam), he is fit for being initiated. Divyaà jïänam is technically called tad-vijïäna, or knowledge about the Supreme. Tad-vijïänärthaà sa gurum eväbhigacchet: [MU 1.2.12] when one is interested in the transcendental subject matter of the Absolute Truth, he should be initiated. Such a person should approach a spiritual master in order to take dékñä. Çrémad-Bhägavatam (11.3.21) also prescribes: tasmäd guruà prapadyeta jijïäsuù çreya uttamam. “When one is actually interested in the transcendental science of the Absolute Truth, he should approach a spiritual master.”

One should not accept a spiritual master without following his instructions. Nor should one accept a spiritual master just to make a fashionable show of spiritual life. One must be jijïäsu, very much inquisitive to learn from the bona fide spiritual master. The inquiries one makes should strictly pertain to transcendental science (jijïäsuù çreya uttamam). The word uttamam refers to that which is above material knowledge. Tama means “the darkness of this material world,” and ut means “transcendental.” Generally people are very interested in inquiring about mundane subject matters, but when one has lost such interest and is simply interested in transcendental subject matters, he is quite fit for being initiated. When one is actually initiated by the bona fide spiritual master and when he seriously engages in the service of the Lord, he should be accepted as a madhyama-adhikäré.

The chanting of the holy names of Kåñëa is so sublime that if one chants the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra offenselessly, carefully avoiding the ten offenses, he can certainly be gradually elevated to the point of understanding that there is no difference between the holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself. One who has reached such an understanding should be very much respected by neophyte devotees. One should know for certain that without chanting the holy name of the Lord offenselessly, one cannot be a proper candidate for advancement in Kåñëa consciousness. In Çré Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 22.69) it is said:

yähära komala çraddhä, se ‘kaniñöha’ jana
krame krame teìho bhakta ha-ibe ‘uttama’

“One whose faith is soft and pliable is called a neophyte, but by gradually following the process, he will rise to the platform of a first-class devotee.” Everyone begins his devotional life from the neophyte stage, but if one properly finishes chanting the prescribed number of rounds of harinäma, he is elevated step by step to the highest platform, uttama-adhikäré. The Kåñëa consciousness movement prescribes sixteen rounds daily because people in the Western countries cannot concentrate for long periods while chanting on beads. Therefore the minimum number of rounds is prescribed. However, Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura used to say that unless one chants at least sixty-four rounds of japa (one hundred thousand names), he is considered fallen (patita). According to his calculation, practically every one of us is fallen, but because we are trying to serve the Supreme Lord with all seriousness and without duplicity, we can expect the mercy of Lord Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu, who is famous as patita-pävana, the deliverer of the fallen.

When Çréla Satyaräja Khän, a great devotee of Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu, asked the Lord how a Vaiñëava could be recognized, the Lord replied:

prabhu kahe,——“yäìra mukhe çuni eka-bära
kåñëa-näma, sei püjya,——çreñöha sabäkära”

“If one hears a person say even once the word ‘Kåñëa,’ that person should be accepted as the best man out of the common group.” (Cc. Madhya 15.106) Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu

“ataeva yäìra mukhe eka kåñëa-näma
sei ta ’vaiñëava, kariha täìhära sammäna”

“One who is interested in chanting the holy name of Kåñëa or who by practice likes to chant Kåñëa’s names should be accepted as a Vaiñëava and offered respects as such, at least within one’s mind.” (Cc. Madhya 15.111) One of our friends, a famous English musician, has become attracted to chanting the holy names of Kåñëa, and even in his records he has several times mentioned the holy name of Kåñëa. At his home he offers respect to pictures of Kåñëa and also to the preachers of Kåñëa consciousness. In all regards, he has a very high estimation for Kåñëa’s name and Kåñëa’s activities; therefore we offer respects to him without reservation, for we are actually seeing that this gentleman is advancing gradually in Kåñëa consciousness. Such a person should always be shown respect. The conclusion is that anyone who is trying to advance in Kåñëa consciousness by regularly chanting the holy name should always be respected by Vaiñëavas. On the other hand, we have witnessed that some of our contemporaries who are supposed to be great preachers have gradually fallen into the material conception of life because they have failed to chant the holy name of the Lord.

While giving instructions to Sanätana Gosvämé, Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu divided devotional service into three categories.

çästra-yukti nähi jäne dåòha, çraddhävän
‘madhyama-adhikäré’ sei mahä-bhägyavän

“A person whose conclusive knowledge of the çästras is not very strong but who has developed firm faith in chanting the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra and who is also undeterred in the execution of his prescribed devotional service should be considered a madhyama-adhikäré. Such a person is very fortunate.” (Cc. Madhya 22.67) A madhyama-adhikäré is a çraddhävän, a staunchly faithful person, and he is actually a candidate for further advancement in devotional service. Therefore in the Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 22.64) it is said:

çraddhävän jana haya bhakti-adhikäré
‘uttama’, ‘madhyama’, ‘kaniñöha’——çraddhä-anusäré

“One becomes qualified as a devotee on the elementary platform, the intermediate platform and the highest platform of devotional service according to the development of his çraddhä [faith].” Again in Caitanya-caritämåta (Madhya 22.62) it is said:

‘çraddhä’-çabde——viçväsa kahe sudåòha niçcaya
kåñëe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kåta haya

“ ‘By rendering transcendental service to Kåñëa, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities.’ This confident, firm faith, favorable to the discharge of devotional service, is called çraddhä.” Çraddhä, faith in Kåñëa, is the beginning of Kåñëa consciousness. Faith means strong faith. The words of Bhagavad-gétä are authoritative instructions for faithful men, and whatever Kåñëa says in Bhagavad-gétä is to be accepted as it is, without interpretation. This was the way Arjuna accepted Bhagavad-gétä. After hearing Bhagavad-gétä, Arjuna told Kåñëa: sarvam etad åtaà manye yan mäà vadasi keçava. “O Kåñëa, I totally accept as truth all that You have told me.” (Bg. 10.14)

This is the correct way of understanding Bhagavad-gétä, and this is called çraddhä. It is not that one accepts a portion of Bhagavad-gétä according to his own whimsical interpretations and then rejects another portion. This is not çraddhä. Çraddhä means accepting the instructions of Bhagavad-gétä in their totality, especially the last instruction: sarva-dharmän parityajya mäm ekaà çaraëaà vraja. “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me.” (Bg. 18.66) When one becomes completely faithful in regard to this instruction, one’s strong faith becomes the basis for advancing in spiritual life.

When one fully engages in chanting the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra, he gradually realizes his own spiritual identity. Unless one faithfully chants the Hare Kåñëa mantra, Kåñëa does not reveal Himself: sevonmukhe hi jihvädau svayam eva sphuraty adaù.  [Brs. 1.2.234] We cannot realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead by any artificial means. We must engage faithfully in the service of the Lord. Such service begins with the tongue (sevonmukhe hi jihvädau), which means that we should always chant the holy names of the Lord and accept kåñëa-prasäda. We should not chant or accept anything else. When this process is faithfully followed, the Supreme Lord reveals Himself to the devotee.

When a person realizes himself to be an eternal servitor of Kåñëa, he loses interest in everything but Kåñëa’s service. Always thinking of Kåñëa, devising means by which to spread the holy name of Kåñëa, he understands that his only business is in spreading the Kåñëa consciousness movement all over the world. Such a person is to be recognized as an uttama-adhikäré, and his association should be immediately accepted according to the six processes (dadäti pratigåhëäti, etc.). Indeed, the advanced uttama-adhikäré Vaiñëava devotee should be accepted as a spiritual master. Everything one possesses should be offered to him, for it is enjoined that one should deliver whatever he has to the spiritual master. The brahmacäré in particular is supposed to beg alms from others and offer them to the spiritual master. However, one should not imitate the behavior of an advanced devotee or mahä-bhägavata without being self-realized, for by such imitation one will eventually become degraded.

In this verse Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé advises the devotee to be intelligent enough to distinguish between the kaniñöha-adhikäré, madhyama-adhikäré and uttama-adhikäré. The devotee should also know his own position and should not try to imitate a devotee situated on a higher platform. Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura has given some practical hints to the effect that an uttama-adhikäré Vaiñëava can be recognized by his ability to convert many fallen souls to Vaiñëavism. One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikäré. A neophyte Vaiñëava or a Vaiñëava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikäré as a spiritual master.

"Generally the spiritual master comes from the group of such eternal associates of the Lord; but anyone who follows the principles of such ever liberated persons is as good as one in the above mentioned group. The gurus from nature's study are accepted as such on the principle that an elevated person in Krishna Consciousness does not accept anyone as disciple, but he accepts everyone as expansion of his guru. That is very high position, called Maha-bhagavata. Just like Radharani, sometimes thinks a subordinate of hers as her teacher, to understand devotion of Krishna. A person who is liberated ‘acharya’ and ‘guru’ cannot commit any mistake, but there are persons who are less qualified or not liberated, but still can act as 'guru' and 'acharya' by strictly following the disciplic succession."(A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 26th April, 1968. Letter to Janardana dasa. New York)

"To spread Krsna consciousness, one need only be cognizant of the science of the spirit soul. It does not matter whether one is a 'brahmana', 'kshatriya', 'vaishya', 'shudra', 'sannyasi', 'grhastha' or whatever. If one simply understands this science, he can become a spiritual master… Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura also states that although one is situated as a 'brahmana', 'kshatriya', 'vaishya', 'shudra', 'brahmacari', 'vanaprastha', 'grhastha' or 'sannyasi', if he is conversant in the science of Krsna he can become a spiritual master as 'vartma-pradarsaka-guru', 'diksa-guru' or 'shiksa-guru'. One who first gives information about spiritual life is called the 'vartma-pradarsaka-guru' or spiritual master. The spiritual master who initiates according to the regulations of the 'shastras' is called 'diksa-guru', and the spiritual master who gives instructions for elevation is called 'shiksa-guru'… Sometimes a caste 'guru' says that 'ye krsna-tattva-vetta, sei guru haya' means that one who is not a 'brahmana' may become a 'shiksa-guru' or a 'vartma-pradarsaka-guru' but not an initiator 'guru'. According to such caste 'gurus', birth and family ties are considered foremost. However, the hereditary consideration is not acceptable to 'Vaisnavas'. The word 'guru' is equally applicable to the 'vartma-pradarsaka-guru', 'siksa-guru' and 'diksa-guru'. Unless we accept the principle enunciated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, this Krsna consciousness movement cannot spread all over the world."(Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrta Madhya lila 8:128 purport.)

See "Own men" section below......

Own men, and "isms"

Brähmaëa means one who knows brahma, the supreme. So brähmaëa, kñatriya, vaiçya, çüdra. These divisions are there according to quality. Guëa-karma-vibhägaçaù. By guëa. Guëa means quality. And karma means actual operation of the guëa.
So Arjuna was a kñatriya, trained up by Droëäcärya how to kill. This is the... Nonviolence is not the business of the kñatriya. That is cowardice. They are taught how to become violent. Otherwise, they cannot rule over. Formerly the judgement was given by the king, immediately finished. Not go to the court and wait for the judgement for ten years. In the meantime everything is finished. Not like that. Anything, there was regularly, the king used to sit in his assembly, and all the criminals, culprits, they were judged by the king himself. Sometimes the king had to kill personally with the sword. Even in European countries, the royal orders were trained up. Nowadays it is constitutional, democratic government. The king has no power. But this is not good for the people. The democracy is a farce. At least, I do not like it. Because so many rascals, simply by getting votes, go to the government, and what do they know how to rule over? Therefore, at the present moment, all over the world there is no good government. There is no good government. The America was considered to have very good government. Now we can see the behavior of Mr. Nixon. It is not possible. Formerly the kñatriyas, they were trained up how to govern. They were trained up by military men, just like Droëäcärya trained Arjuna, Duryodhana. All the royal princes were trained up how to kill. Not only killing, also, according to çästra, how to rule over. The king’s business is to see that everyone in the country, they are properly employed and engaged in his own business. That is king’s business. There was no question of unemployment. This is government’s first business. Because if a person is unemployed, then the devil’s workshop. Devil’s, work... If he hasn’t got to do anything... That is being done now. Rich man’s son, he hasn’t got to do anything, so his brain is devil’s workshop. They are manufacturing so many “isms.” But everyone should be engaged. This is government’s first business to see. A brähmaëa is engaged as a brähmaëa, a kñatriya is engaged as kñatriya.

So Arjuna was not a coward. He was a competent warrior. But still, dehätma-buddhi, the bodily concept of life is so strong... That Arjuna admits, dåñövä tu svajanaà kåñëa: “My dear Kåñëa, I have to kill my own men.” What is that “own men”? “Own men” means this bodily relationship. Why others are not own men? Everyone is own men. Because everyone is Kåñëa’s son. So when one becomes Kåñëa conscious, he can see everyone own men. And when he is not Kåñëa conscious, he simply sees own men where there is bodily relationship. This is the defect. They are advertising, humanitarian work, philanthropic work, communism, this “ism,” but when there is question of bodily relationship, immediately everything is changed. You know, the Communist country, the Khruschev was driven out because he was patronizing his own men. That was the defect. So you can advertise that “I am for everyone,” but there is affection for own men. Nepotism. Nepotism. It’s called nepotism. So many big, big leaders. Our Jawaharhal Nehru, he was sending his own men as ambassador. Vijaya Lakshmi, a woman, she was being sent as ambassador. She was high commissioner here. So this “own men” question is very prominent everywhere.

(ACBSP. 22nd July 1973, Bhagavad Gita class 1:28-29. London.)

Becoming Krishna's first instalment:

So the Kåñëa consciousness movement is meant for releasing all these conditioned souls from this misconception of life. Anyone, any intelligent man can understand that as soon as we identify our activities with the body, then we are fool number one. That is the verdict of Çrémad-Bhägavatam. Yasyätma-buddhiù kuëape tri-dhätuke [SB 10.84.13]. Anyone who is identifying himself with this body... Sva-dhéù kalaträdiñu. “And family members, wife, children, they are our own men. All others are enemies.” Yasyätma-buddhiù kuëape tri-dhätuke sva-dhéù kalaträdiñu bhauma ijya-dhéù. “And the land in which we have taken birth, that is worshipable.” People are sacrificing their life in so many ways. The leaders are enthusing them, “Oh, you are national of this, national of that.” Falsely they are working so hard. This is the basic principle, mistake, of the modern civilization—identifying oneself with this body, which he’s not. So by Kåñëa kértana, this bodily concept of life is..., in the beginning it becomes vanquished. A tacit example: you are all boys. You have forgotten that this body is Indian or American. You are Kåñëa’s. This is the first installment.

(ACBSP. 29th June 1971. Arrival address. Los Angeles.)

The great test of death will our devotion and dedication:

In Bengali it is said, bhajana kara sädhana kara mürti yäìre haya. (?) You may be very great devotee. That’s all right. But it will be tested at the time of your death, how you remember Kåñëa. That will be the test examination. At the time of death, if we forget, if we become parrotlike... Just like parrot, he chants also, “Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa.” But when the cat catches the neck, “Kanh! Kanh! Kanh!” No more Kåñëa. No more Kåñëa. So artificial practice will not help us. Then “Khan, khan.” That kapha-pitta-vätaiù, kaëöhävarodhana-vidhau smaraëaà kutas te.

(ACBSP. 22nd July 1973, Bhagavad Gita class 1:28-29. London.)

Letter to: Tamala Krsna dasa
Los Angeles
27 May, 1970

My Dear Tamala,

Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 21st May, 1970, and noted the contents carefully.

Regarding the Sanskrit class, I think it was only a plea, but he wanted to teach us something other philosophy. Our Temple is meant for our men, and we may have our own discussions amongst ourselves, no outsider needed. It is definitely concluded that we have not got to learn anything from any outsider beyond the jurisdiction of Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy. Our philosophy is established on sound ground of the conclusion arrived at by Vyasadeva down to Jiva Goswami, Visvanatha Cakravarti, Bhaktivinode Thakura, etc.

The other day one Indian boy came here to take permission for chanting some bhajan, so I indirectly refused. Try to understand our own philosophy described in so many books, but I cannot allow you to hear form the mental speculators without any solid knowledge.

So it is very encouraging that London Temple is being managed by one pair of husband and wife very nicely. Similarly each pair should take care of a center; and if you love me at all, then all of you try your best to open at least 108 centers during my lifetime--that is my special request. At the same time, we must be very careful to see that every center is going properly. Our possessing own building is not so important as it is important to see that everything is going on nicely in order.
Yesterday I received one very important magazine ``Kalyana'' from India in which the editor has described about our activities so nicely, but at the end it has been remarked whether in future the standard shall continue. Of course we are not very much concerned with the future; at least in our presence who are the floating members of this Society we should like to see things going on properly.

You have described Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Krsna at London Temple as wonderful. Yes, that is the test of standard service. If we see the Deities in very pleasing mood, that will certify our service unto the Lord. So everywhere we shall see the Deities in such pleasing mood. As soon as we see the Deities in a different mood we must immediately understand our discrepancies.

Regarding your proposed agreed upon program to send each householder couple to a different European city to open a center there, and then having the center firmly established, join the World Sankirtana Party is very good. This program is approved that first we establish some more centers. My missionary activities are especially meant for the Western countries. To go to India is a secondary question, the primary thing is that we establish our institution firmly in the Western countries. So when we are sound in our preaching work in the Western countries, that news automatically goes to India as it is already publicized.
So if Krsna desires, we may go to India next year with our party, but I will prefer if George takes the responsibility of this touring party. If he is serious about it, I can give my suggestions about how it will be done.

As you have listed the prospected cities with the respective couples of householders to go there, these programs are very encouraging. In England there are some very important cities like Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, etc. so these may be gradually incorporated in your program.

Regarding the members comprising the World Sankirtana Party, on the whole I wish that 40 members will go, one half from Europe and one half from America or as it may be suitable, there is no definite restriction.

So far the proposal of the Karachi Gujarat Hindu Union and the Brahma Samaj to take our devotees to Africa, if they give return fare we will go to Africa, but I am not very much hopeful of the Indians there. They may be of the same type as they are in England. The difficulty with the Indians is that they are under the impression that they know everything and they have not got to learn anything from us, but factually most of them have lost their original culture and they have to learn so many things from this Krsna Consciousness Movement.

Regarding decreasing the number of copies of KRSNA book ordered by Syamasundara., no, Syamasundara. must sell at least 2,500 KRSNA books, that is already decided. He can sell them at the best price, it does not matter whether it is the price mentioned on the book cover.

So if you want to see a Spanish edition of BTG, then you go to Spain and open a branch, then we get Spanish edition also--it is not difficult. It is very good news that several new boys and girls have joined the Paris Temple, so utilize all these newcomers--whatever capacity they have got try to utilize it for Krsna's service--that will be good for them and good for us.
Regarding your two questions, the first, Sri Gadadhara is expansion Radharani and Srinivasa is the expansion of Narada Muni, or in other words they are the internal and the devotional energy respectively. The second question, Yes, Rupa Goswami is a Gopi by the name of Rupamanjari, but not all the six Goswamis of Vrndavana are Gopis. The following is a list of some of the principle Gopis, the first eight are called Astasakhi:

1. Lalita
2. Visakha
3. Sucitra
4. Campaklata
5. Rangadevi
6. Sudevi
7. Tungavidya
8. Indurekha
9. Rupamanjari
10. Ratimanjari
11. Labangamanjari
12. Rasamanjari
13. Manjumali
14. Kasturika

etc. You can sing individually the names of the Gopis, there is no harm, but when we sing the prayer ``Sri radha krsna padan sahaguna lalita sri visakhan vitams ca'' this includes them all.

Please offer my blessings to your good wife, Madri Dasi, and all the boys and girls at Paris center.
Hope this will meet you in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Srila Prabhupada speaks out: The Importance of a Sampradaya

In the disciplic succession we simply find repetition of the same subject as they were spoken by Krsna. In the Bhagavad Gita (9.34) Sri Krsna says:

man mana bhava mad bhakto
madyaji man namaskuru
mam evaisyasi yuktvaivam
atmanam mat parayanah

"Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances, and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me." These very instructions were reiterated by all the acaryas, such as Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya and Caitanya Mahaprabhu. (SSR- Who is a Guru)

 Just as a king gives protection to his citizens, these devotees, following the principles of devotional service, will give protection to all the people of the world.  The people of the world are very much harassed by so-called religious-principled svami s, yogis, karmis and jnanis, but none of these can show the right way to become elevated to the spiritual platform.  There are primarily four parties spreading devotional service all over the universe.  These are the Ramanuja-sampradaya, the Madhva-sampra daya, the Visnusvami-sampradaya and the Nimbarka-sampradaya.  The Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya in particular comes from Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.  All these devotees are spreading this Krsna consciousness movement very widely and giving protection to innoce nt people who are being so much embarrassed by pseudo-avataras, -svamis, -yogis and others.
(SB 4.28.32)

In the Padma Purana it is also said, sampradaya-vihina ye mantras te nisphala matah.  There are four sampradayas, or disciplic successions, namely the Brahma-sampradaya, the Rudra-sampradaya, the Sri-sampradaya and the Kumara-sampradaya.  If one wants to advance in spiritual power, one must receive his mantras from one of these bona fide sampradayas; otherwise he will never successfully advance in spiritual life.
(SB 6.8.42)

The devotees of Orissa are called Udiyas, the devotees of Bengal are called Gaudiyas, and the devotees of southern India are known as Dravidi devotees.  As there are five provinces in Aryavarta, so Daksinatya, southern India, is also divided into five pr ovinces, which are called Panca-dravida.  The four Vaisnava acaryas who are the great authorities of the four Vaisnava disciplic successions, as well as Sripada Sankaracarya of the Mayavada school, appeared in the Panca-dravida provences. Among the four Vaisnava acaryas, who are all accepted by the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, Sri Ramanuja Acarya appeared in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh at Mahabhutapuri, Sri Madhva Acarya appeared at Pajakam (near Vimanagiri) in the district of Myangalore, Sri Visnusvami ap peared at Pandya, and Sri Nimbarka appeared at Mungera-patana in the extreme south.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the chain of disciplic succession from Madhva Acarya, but the Vaisnavas in His line do not accept the tattva-vadis, who also claim to belong to the Madhva-sampradaya.  To distinguish themselves clearly from the tattva-vad i branch of Madhvas descendants, the Vaisnavas of Bengal prefer to call themselves Gaudiya Vaisnavas.  Sri Madhva Acarya is also known as Sri Gaudapurnananda, and therefore the name Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya is quite suitable for the disciplic succession of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas.  Our spiritual master, Om Visnupada Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, accepted initiation in the Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya.
(Cc. Adi, 1.19)

As stated in the Bhagavad-gita (4.2): evam parampara praptam imam rajarsayo vidhu: "This supreme science was thus received through the chain disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way."

This parampara system extends from Manu t o Iksvaku and from Iksvaku to his sons and grandsons. The rulers of the world in the line of hierarchy execute the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the parampara system. Anyone interested in peaceful life must participate in this parampara s ystem and perform yajnas. As Gaudiya Vaisnavas in the parampara system of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, we must perform sankirtana yajna all over the world (yajnai sankirtana prayair yajanti hi sumedhasasah).
(SB 8.14.6)

arthasrayatvam sabdasya
drastur lingatvam eva ca
tanmatratvam ca nabhaso
laksanaam kavayo viduh

Translation: Persons who are learned and who have knowledge define sound as that which conveys the idea of an object, indicates the presence of a speaker screened from our view and constitutes the subtle form of ether.

Purport: ...because vedic knowledge was imparted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is transcendental to material creation, it is pefect. If we receive that Vedic knowledge from Brahma in disciplic succession, then we receive perfect knowledge.

..mental speculators or so called philosophers who are researching what is actually God will never understand the nature of God. The science of God has to be understood in disciplic succession from Brahma, who was first instructed about knowledge of God by God Himself.
(SB 3.26.33)