- Disappointments and Bhajan
- Mercy of Sri Nrsimhadeva
- Necessity of surrender
- What is bhakti?
- His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Paramahamsa 108 Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada
- Auspicious is only the association with saints
Sri Srímad Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaj
Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhar Deva Goswami Maharaj was born in Hapaniya, West Bengal, in 1895. The pastimes of his youth were spent in learning and he naturally excelled in every subject that he took up. From his childhood, his tendency was towards the culture of faith in God and the study of the Vedas, Upanishads, and other scriptures. He received the sacred thread according to his family tradition when fourteen years old, and his affinity for the divine world kept on increasing. In his early years he was especially attracted to Lord Ramachandra, but later, when he came in contact with the doctrine of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he began to read Bhagavad Gita and developed an attraction for Lord Krishna.
After completing his primary and secondary education, Srila Sridhar Maharaj entered Krishnanath College in Berhampore (District Murshidabad), Bengal. After four years of study, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. For some time Srila Sridhar Maharaj was searching for a sadhu from whom he could take initiation, but could not find anyone to his liking. Then, by the grace of the Almighty, Srila Sridhar Maharaj met his eternal guide and preceptor Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and in 1927 became his initiated disciple.
In 1930 Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur awarded Srila Sridhar Maharaj sannyas and bestowed upon him the name Bhakti Rakshaka, meaning "guardian of devotion." Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur saw in Srila Sridhar Maharaj the ability to perfectly protect the Gaudiya Vaishnava line from misrepresentation and misconception. After reading Srila Sridhar Maharaj's Sanskrit compositions glorifying Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur remarked, "Now I am satisfied that, after I leave, there will be at least one man who can represent my conclusions (bhaktisiddhanta)."
Srila Sridhar Maharaj was recognized for his vast understanding and realization of the shastra and thus his guru also awarded him the title sastra-nipuna, meaning one who is very expert or intelligent in understanding the meaning of shastra. Not only was Srila Sridhar Maharaj recognized by his guru for his advancement in Krishna consciousness, but he was also recognized by many of his affectionate godbrothers for his seniority. Many of them, such as Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaj and many of others, considered him to be their siksha guru.
Once in a letter Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj commented as follows: "What Sripad Sridhar Maharaj has directed, I take it on my head. He is my ever wellwisher. After the departure of Prabhupada (Saraswati Thakur) it is appropriate that I should accept his direction. I got direction from him that I shall live in this country forever."
Sometime after the passing away of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur in 1936, Srila Sridhar Maharaj established his own temple, Sri Chaitanya Saraswata Math, on the banks of the sacred Ganges in Nabadwip Dham, the holy land of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Having deeply assimilated the teachings of Sri Chaitanya, Srila Sridhar Maharaj began composing original texts.
The senior members of the Gaudiya Vaishnava community deeply appreciated all the literary works of Srila Sridhar Maharaj. The well-known, if not famous, disciple of Saraswati Thakur, Srila Akinchana Das Babaji Maharaj, used to say, "I find the writings of Sripad Sridhar Maharaj to be not different from those of Narottama Das Thakur."
Many enlightened souls have proclaimed the greatness of the Gayatri-nigudhartha as the supreme wealth of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaj wrote: "Sridhar Maharaj's explanation of Brahma-gayatri, the mother of all the Vedas, indicating how it is centred on the meditation of Srimati Radharani, was revealed to him in the depth of his realization. It is the result of Paramaradhya Sri Srila Prabhupada's divine grace on him"
Krishna is deva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who reveals His pastimes of love in the eternal Goloka Vrindavan surrounded by His devotees imbued with wonderful love of God. The honorific suffix deva was given to Srila Sridhar Maharaj's name, as Sridhar deva Goswami, due to his ability to reveal the inner meaning of the Supreme Lord's divine pastimes of love to the sincerely aspiring devotee. The way that Srila Sridhar Maharaj spoke of the Supreme Lord's pastimes was absolutely wonderful. His voice and every move¬ment were filled with divine love for Godhead. He was, as one disciple exclaimed, "beauty, sweetness, and charm in motion."
During the last days of his manifest pastimes, Srila Sridhar Maharaj remained always absorbed in deep moods of devotional separation and hankering for the divine service of Sri Sri Radha Govinda. Then in 1988, on the Amavasya, or the dark moon night, of the month of July, Srila Sridhar Maharaj withdrew his manifest presence from this earthly plane to enter the nitya lila (eternal pastimes) of the Supreme Lord.
Unless we take absolute shelter, we cannot have any kind of remedy for our miseries. As long as we do not submit to the Supreme Lord Sree Krishna sincerely, completely, we shall have to suffer the distress of this world. We are trying to earn money and maintain our worldly relations so that we might have happiness. Yet we can see the consequences of our attachment to non-eternal things - severe miseries. Even so, due to our ignorance, our misconception of self, we keep on trying for this ephemeral happiness. We have lost our money and we have lost our near and dear ones, but again we keep trying to get those things back. If no human being is available, we acquire a dog, a cat, a parrot or whatever, and become attached to that. Again and again we try for the non-eternal because the root cause of our afflictions is not eliminated. This root cause is our misconception of self and the ignorance of thinking that by getting material benefits we will be truly benefited. As long as we do not surrender to the Lord, we will never be able to attain the ultimate goal of life. The Kathopanishad (2.23) mentions:nayam atma pravacanena labhyo
na medhaya na bahuna srutena
yam evaisa vrnute tena labhyas
tasyaisa atma vivrnute tanum svam
"God cannot be attained and realized by delivering lectures, by intellect, or by great erudition. The Supreme Lord will reveal His own eternal form only to a surrendered soul."
In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna mentions four reasons that motivate people to turn to God: distress, ambition, curiosity and wisdom. In his discussion of this topic, Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami divides these four into two categories. He classifies the distressed and the ambitious seeker of wealth or other material rewards as bubhuksu ("desirers of sense gratification") and the curious and the wise as mumuksu ("desirers of liberation"). But one who has accumulated the necessary piety soon comes to abandon all desires, knowing that they hold him back from pure devotion.
The distressed and the seeker of wealth are both counted as devotees with material desires, whereas the curious and the learned harbor the desire for liberation. Though all four kinds of devotees are highly fortunate and pious, it is only when they transcend their desires that they become pure devotees.
Whereas Krishna Das Kaviraj called these desires "cheating" (kaitava) and "the darkness of ignorance" (andha-tamah) in the first chapter of the Chaitanya Charitamrita, in this context (Madhya-lila 24.94) he characterizes them as "wicked association" (duhsanga), as well as "self-deception" (atma-vancana). The idea is that anyone who makes a pretense of engaging in devotion while remaining motivated by other desires not only deceives himself but others as well. Anyone who is a cheater or who tolerates such cheating behavior is by definition duhsanga or bad association. Contact with such persons will render even long-term dedication to the practice of bhakti futile. Thus the Bhagavatam advises:
"An intelligent person should abandon all bad association and hold fast to the company of devotees. Such saints are the only ones who, by their instructions, can cut through our unhealthy mental attachments." SB 11.26.26
In an important verse in the Bhagavatam, Lord Kapila Deva instructs his mother Devahuti in the gradual development of faith beginning with the association of devotees and hearing Krishna conscious topics from them. Faith means taking up the practice of disciplined devotional activity. Once we begin such practice, our inner life develops as far as rati or bhava, the stage of devotional feeling, and goes on from there to devotion in its puriest state, or prema.
My heroic pastimes, when heard in the association of pure devotees, are very pleasing to the ear and satisfying to the heart. As a result of joyfully relishing these pastimes in such association, one quickly advances on the path of liberation, passing through the stages of faith (sraddha), the revelation of one's divine relationship with Krishna (rati), and true love for Him (bhakti). SB 3.25.25
In discussing the need to seek out like-minded association, Rupa Goswami quotes the following verse from Hari-bhakti-sudho-daya (8.51), in which Hiranyakashipu tells Prahlada that one's own character reflects the company he keeps:
"Like a mirror, a person takes on the qualities of those with whom he comes into contact. One who is intelligent should therefore seek the company of more advanced persons who share the same ideals, in order to cultivate their good qualities in himself." BRS 1.2.229
A lava is equal to 4/45th of a second, or the time that it takes to blink. It is said that even as little as a lava's time of association with advanced devotees will result in the attainment of all perfections. This is the potency of the fellowship of devotees as glorified by Krishna Das Kaviraj:
lava matra sadhu-sange sarva siddhi haya
All the scriptures repeatedly glorify the association of the saintly. A mere moment's association with the saintly results in all perfection. CC 2.22.54
What are the benefits of making friendship with the saintly? Their compassion—that is, of the guru and the pure devotees—principally results in the dissipation of our bad habits and the development of pure bhakti.
krsna prema janme tenho punah mukhya anga
The root cause of devotional service to Lord Krishna is association with advanced devotees; nevertheless, even after one's dormant love for Krishna has awakened, such association remains the main pillar of a devotee's spiritual life. CC 2.22.80
krsna-bhakti dure rahu samsara nahe ksaya
Without the favor of a great devotee, no activity qualifies as devotion. Not only are we unable to attain pure devotion to Krishna, but we cannot even be freed from the bondage of material existence. CC 2.22.51
Sri Nrsimhadeva has two dispositions. He is terrible with non-devotees, but with devotees, He is very affectionate and caring. The following verse from the Agamas, is quoted as evidence by Sridhara Svami in his commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.1:
kesariva sva-potanam anyesam ugra-vikramah
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 8.6)
"Although very ferocious, the lioness is very kind to her cubs. Similarly, although very ferocious to non-devotees like Hiranyakasipu, Lord Nrsimhadeva is very affectionate and kind to devotees like Prahlada Maharaja." (Bhaktivinoda Thakura)
This expresses thoroughly the glories of Sri Nrsimhadeva's unique mercy. Devotion to Nrsimhadeva enhances bhakti and destroys uncongenial adverse motivations.The meaning of the word Hiranyakasipu is—'hiranya': gold or money, 'kasipu': bed, i.e. desire for money and women. The desire for name and fame also goes together with them. These are obstructions to devotion. Nrsimhadeva destroys the anti-devotional feelings of the Hiranyakasipu-like mentality of the living beings and nourishes the devotional attitude like that of Prahlada.
So, the favor of Sri Nrsimhadeva (Nrsimhadeva, the destroyer of hindrances to bhakti) is very necessary for neophyte devotees who have the weakness of non-eternal propensities.
The next two verses, were composed by Sridhara Svami in his commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.1 and 10.87.1 respectively:
sarad-indu-rucim vande parindra-vadanam harim
"Let me offer my obeisances unto the Supreme lion-faced Lord Sri Hari who is residing within the heart of Prahlada Maharaja as condensed bliss, and who always removes nescience. His effulgence is like autumnal moonshine."
yasyaste hrdaye samvit tam nrsimham aham bhaje
"On whose lips Sarasvati (the goddess of learning) dances, on whose chest Laksmidevi resides in the form of a golden line and whose heart is the abode of grand refulgence of the opulence of Absolute Knowledge. I offer my obeisances unto that very object of worship—Sri Nrsimhadeva."
yato yato yami tato nrsimhah
bahir nrsimho hrdaye nrsimho
nrsimham adim saranam prapadye
(Nrsimha Purana, quoted in Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 16.53)
"Lord Nrsimha is on this side and Lord Nrsimha is on that side, Wherever I go, Nrsimha is there. Nrsimha is outside and Nrsimha is also in my heart. I take shelter of that first appearance of Sri Nrsimha."
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Nrsimha who is the giver of bliss to Prahlada, and who possesses nails to tear the stone-like chest of Hiranyakasipu."
kesava dhrta-narahari-rupa jaya jagadisa hare
(Sri Jayadeva's Dasavatara-stotra, 4th Verse)
"O Kesava! O Lord Hari, You have assumed the form of half-man and half-lion! The lotus flower is very soft, but Your most beautiful lotus-like nails are astonishing. The body of the mountain peak-like demon, Hiranyakasipu, has been ripped apart by them because they are also so hard. O Lord of the universe! All glories unto You!"
We should not be disappointed by the happenings of the world and give up our bhajana. This world is the place of turmoil and disturbances caused by the illusory energy of Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. Only a completely surrendered soul can surmount the ocean of births and deaths – threefold afflictions. We are to practice six-fold saranagati which is the basis of devotional life. Without saranagati, there cannot be bhakti.
We should not be perturbed by mundane worldly loss and gain. We should be very careful about the eternal benefit of the eternal self which will go with us.
Whatever is done by the Will of Supreme Lord Sri Krishna Who is All-Good, is for the eternal benefit of all. Jivas reap the fruits of their own karma. Nobody is to be blamed for this. We should not be perturbed under any circumstance and give up bhajana in our short duration of stay in this transitory world. A completely surrendered soul is always protected and maintained by Sri Krishna. There is no cause of anxiety to him. He remains calm under all circumstances. We are controlled by Absolute-Will. We cannot do anything against His Will. Whether we shall lead an ascetic life or household life depends upon His Will. If He wishes anything, nobody can obstruct it.
We cannot see adjustment and cannot find solution by our own capacity. Total unconditional submission is the only way of solving problems. Jivas commit offence at the Lotus Feet of Sri Krishna, when they, being eternal servants of Sri Krishna, become averse to Sri Krishna. As long as jivas will not remove this offence, there will be no practical solution. Maya will surely envelop them and there will be desire for enjoyment which will hurl them down to hell – intense suffering.
The root cause of the disease is to be eradicated, otherwise undesirable symptoms will crop up.
Hence, the root cause of all troubles, repugnance to Sri Krishna, is to be removed. We are averse to Sri Krishna from time immemorial. This averseness cannot be removed all of a sudden. It may require thousands of births or one birth. Even Ambarish Maharaja, the great devotee, could conquer all material desires gradually. Nothing can be achieved all of a sudden.
Sadhya – ultimate blissful spiritual existence – cannot be attained without sadhana. Association of bona fide real sadhus is essential for spiritual enhancement.
Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha, 15 th October 2011, Sri Govardhan.
From childhood on, his life was a glowing example of determination to serve the Holy Names and to preach their glories. He was never able to tolerate the arrogance of those who followed the path of meditation on one’s own spiritual form while showing indifference to the Holy Name. Nor was he able to accept those who made an artificial effort to follow the path of raganuga bhakti while ignoring Mahaprabhu’s instructions in the Siksastaka and those of Rupa Goswami in the Upadesamrta. After establishing in us the proper foundation, he then conceded to advise us to maintain our effort to attain the supreme goal of life—love for Sri Krishna in the elevated, effulgent sweet mood of Vraja distributed by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He gave most prece¬dence to Mahaprabhu’s command, “In this age of Kali, the chanting of the Holy Names is the only means (nama-sankirtana kalau parama upaya).”
Srila Prabhupada was adorned by the four qualities mentioned in the Siksastaka’s (trnad api) verse, and with these qualities he propagated the glories of the Holy Name. He constantly warned us, his disciples, that we should not try to steal from the storehouse of religious experience and also that false renunciation is inimical to spiritual advancement. Srila Prabhupada recommended appropriate renunciation or yukta-viragya.
chāďiyāche jāre se to vaişņava
sei anāsakta sei śuddha bhakta
samsāra tathāya pāya parābhava
A Vaishnava is one who has abandoned the tigress of desire for gold, women and worldly prestige. He is truly detached and thus a pure devotee. In him, the bondage of samsara is overcome.
Prabhupada considered material prestige to be detestable, comparing it to hog stool. He never sanctioned the impersonalist philosophy or devotion adulterated by jnana, yoga or karma, as these are in opposition to pure bhakti. He showed indomitable enthusiasm for preaching the Holy Name and Mahaprabhu’s religion of love, from the oceans to the Himalaya Mountains and beyond. As a result, the fires of the sacrifice of the Holy Name were ignited and the victory flag of the Holy Name now waves in almost every corner of the world. So many thoughtful persons from the western countries have been fortunate to accept the spiritual ways of India.
Srila Prabhupada taught that every single living being is eligible to engage in the worship of the Lord. Everywhere he went, he loudly proclaimed that there is no consideration of ethnic background or race in devotional service. The essence of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings is to sincerely take shelter of the genuine guru and make all efforts to engage in devotional service in the association of pure devotees. I myself heard Srila Prabhupada say to his disciples in regards to world peace that, “Genuine peace will never be established in this world without practicing and preaching the religion of love taught by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.”
When speaking about society's duty to educate its children, Prabhupada repeated the teachings of the great soul Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur,
tomāra bhajane bādhā
moha janamiyā anitya samsāre
jīvake karaye gādhā
“Material knowledge is the great power of the illusory energy and an impediment to pure devotional service. It creates an illusory attachment to samsara and turns a human being into an ass.”
We should therefore take shelter of the Holy Name, for transcendental knowledge (para vidya), the opposite of material knowledge, follows the Holy Name like a faithful wife. These are the words used by Mahaprabhu—vidya-vadhu-jivanam. In view of this, there is no need to attain any knowledge other than that which helps preach the glories of the Holy Name. We will never be able to remove the hatred, envy and enmity that exists between living beings unless we stop the use of human talents, science, arts, culture, commerce, ethics and religion as means for achieving sense gratification rather than for the highest goal of life. It is out of respect for his acheivements in this domain that the pure devotee must be given the highest seat of honor in human society.
May we follow the path established by Sri Vyasadeva and Sukadeva with all our being! Then only will we be able to achieve our true goal. If we disregard the scriptures that are based on the realizations of the great devotional authorities, the false and deceptive paths that we accept will lead us to take up all sorts of improper activities in the name of religion. Prabhupada would therefore say:
bhagavata kahe tāhā paripūrņa chale
“So many things on earth are promoted in the name of religion, but the Bhagavatam says that they are nothing more than deception.”
We pray that Srila Prabhupada’s message of auspiciousness will be spread throughout the world. This will destroy the atheism that is so destructive to our planet and establish a genuine theism for the benefit of all humanity. This will bring peace and auspiciousness to all.
Aspiring for the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, Servant of the servant,
Sri Bhakti Promode Puri