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Dissolution of False Ego
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Maharaj

Devotee: I speak to many of my countrymen about Krsna. They are mostly Christians, but they can appreciate Him.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: You will talk about the ideal, you will discuss the ideal, “Your conception is this, our conception is that. What is the difference between the conceptions?” In this way you can talk.

Devotee: When I talk to them and explain bhakti, they can appreciate it.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Yes, bhakti is a general thing but there is also the type of bhakti and the bhakti which is the model for all other forms.

Devotee: They can understand the focus of bhakti. When I talk to them they can appreciate bhakti, when I explain it.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Bhakti, you also know bhakti, you are talking about bhakti. I am also talking about bhakti. Do you find any difference there? So bhakti is the ideal and they have got also an ideal.

Devotee: But it is the focus of the bhakti. I explain Mahaprabhu’s philosophy, bhakti even above mukti.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: We are captivated by the ideal, the fine touch, appreciation for the ideal. Mahaprabhu has given an ideal, Christ has given another ideal. Our inner inspiration, which we cannot trace, the attraction for the ideal we are to analyze these fine things, our appreciation. Why do we appreciate Krsna and not God given by Jesus? That is a vague thing. This is some clear conception, sweet conception of the thing. Why am I attracted to this side? I am to analyze that. What is there that will be found on this side and not that side? I am to look into my inner heart and try to express that, the difference is there.

In my previous days, generally I used to collect money for the Mission and I met many gentleman - many sympathetic, many apathetic. A sympathetic man asked me, “O, why are you running from door to door for collection when we see that you come from a very high family. You are educated and you are fit. Why do you waste your time by collection from door to door?” I replied, “What do you want me to do for God?” He said, “Go to the mountain caves. There is an arrangement by the religious householders. They will give food to you regularly. Then go on meditating.” On account of that request, I tried to look into my own heart. Why I am doing this service? They are saying sympathetically, “Begging from door to door what good can you derive? Go straight to the hill and sit in meditation for Him and try to connect yourself in a direct way.” Many times I looked to my heart for the answer and I found it.

“It is necessary to understand that whatever action
I shall begin taking in response of my own ego
will create a material atmosphere,
spread my subjective atmosphere.”

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Maharaj

I told him, “Do you know the character of the Vedic disciples? They are sent by the Guru to the pasture ground to reap the cultivated land. What for? Krsna went to gurukula and went with four god-brothers to bring fuel wood from the forest. What is the necessity?”

So it is necessary to understand that whatever action I shall begin taking in response of my own ego will create a material atmosphere, spread my subjective atmosphere. But I have ceased to act according to my own inner thought. I have placed myself at the disposal of a higher devotee. The subtle system of my inner body I want to kill, finish, and I have stopped its food. If I obey its order it will thrive. I have stopped the ration. I have totally disconnected the food supply to the army. Let them die fasting and if they die, if that ego will die then another body, which works only in obedience to the higher agents will come out. This subtle body which gets its food from the ego will be finished. I want to do that.

The whole mental system may die without food. No insinuation from my ego within. I am doing what our Guru asked me to do, some service, and I am doing that. I am engaged with Vaikuntha, the transcendental world. I want to dissolve my ego, and the world produced where I am living by my ego. I want to get out of that. I am living in my own imaginary world. That world must go away. Then, another world will come to me. I am connecting with these material things, this person, this matter, this gross, conscious body and the world created by it - but I want to live in another world. I want the world of my Guru. I want to live in that way.

Once one sannyasi, leaving the engagement given by our Guru Maharaj went to visit Badarikaśram and the holy places. Then he was punished, “Why have you left the responsibility of service given to you and you are going for pilgrimage?” I was a beginner at that time and it gave a heavy pressure in me. I thought, “What is this? A sannyasi has gone to visit Badarikaśram, the place of Vyasadev, Sukadev, what is the fault there? So great a fault that he would forbidden entrance?” I was a new man, I was in charge of the Kurukśetra Math and I was sent a letter, “If that sannyasi comes to the Math don’t allow him to enter.” He was a senior sannyasi and I was a newcomer.

It was a great shock to me. That sannyasi came in a day or two. Just previously, I showed so much respect to him and that day how can I say that, “You won’t enter this Math.” This was very difficult. When he came; I read the letter to him. This is the order of the central Math. First he was excited and began to abuse the higher authorities. Finally I said to him, “Maharaj I feel much apprehension in my mind and I am very much afraid.” He inquired, “Why you are afraid?” I replied, “After fifteen years of service, if you have come to such level that you are to be ousted from the Mission, then what hope have I got? I am a beginner. Your fifteen years service has earned such punishment to be ousted, then what hope have I got here? It is not possible for me to waste my time here.” Then he came out in another color, “No, no, no, you need not to be afraid. I may do wrong. A boy may not pass a B.A. degree or M.A. degree but it does not mean a primary student like you will also fail that.” Then he accepted that, “It is not injustice but it is justice and I have committed something wrong.” He came to that conclusion. This incident had a great impression in my mind. What is there in this service? Disengagement - leaving the desired service of Guru if you want to go to a holy place - that is a punishable offense? What is this? This service is the connection above.

God’s will through His agent to be engaged in His service is very, very valuable. Conversely, to select in my level what is good and bad and to go to a holy place is some sort of religious luxury, freedom. Divine service is above freedom of an ordinary soul. “It is a holy place and I am doing right visiting holy places.” The origin of this is from my ego and a far higher ego is giving instruction, “Do this! God wants this from you!” This is another world. It came to me gradually. To obey the orders of a Vaisnava that means to serve Divinity, the higher Divinity and this will give us the supreme destination. This is the order from the higher plane. We have to follow it.

I am in search after the infinite! Until the infinite comes to me graciously to reveal Himself I must go on searching. It is His pleasure not my pleasure and I do not have anything to force Him. It is absolute and I have come to get a drop of grace from the absolute, not any limited thing. Krsna says, “I am everywhere everything is in Me. Try to understand this peculiar, mystic position of Mine.” Gaura Haribol!

Hankering In Surrender Is Our Wealth
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Maharaj

When we reach the highest position of disappointment, then sometimes, somehow or other, from the core of our heart we pray, “Oh Lord, I am helpless, save me! I am under the control of so many enemies in the form of friends. Such a hopeless position I hold, my Lord. From time immemorial I am serving all these masters, but they are not satisfied with my service. Now I find myself in this helpless position, my Lord. You should only come on Your own accord, and assert Yourself. Then they will fly away in fear of You. Otherwise I have no hope.” This sort of ardent prayer from the core of the heart towards the Savior, that is what is necessary for us. With our faith and earnestness we can aspire after that mercy. If we increase the quality of our negativity, the feeling that we are so low, the positive will be automatically attracted. We must try to increase the power of our position as a negative unit.

Trnad api sunicena (feeling lower than the grass), dainyam (humility), atmanivedana (surrender). Hankering in surrender is our wealth. We are the sakti, the potency, and potency refers to the negative unit of the Positive, the Potent. We should increase our negative side, our hankering. The Positive will be automatically attracted to us.

The Highest Conception of Conduct
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaj

One day, Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur was chanting the Lord’s Names and wandering in the sky, at his sweet will. Suddenly he found that he was just near Yamalaya where Yama, the lord of death, holds court for judging the sinners of this world. He also found there Brahma, Narada, Siva, and others, discussing with Yamaraja the meaning of two slokas spoken by Sri Krsna in Bhagavad-gita (9.30,31); but they could not solve the problem of discerning the proper meaning of the slokas.

api cet suduracaro, bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah, samyag vyavasito hi sah

“Externally, a person may be seen to commit many sins, but if he is exclusively given to My devotion, he should be considered most pure – a saint. Whatever he does, he does cent-per-cent rightly. “

ksipram bhavati dharmatma, sasvac-chantim nigacchati
kaunteya pratijanihi, na me bhaktah pranasyati

“Very soon, he will become religious in his behavior, and he will be seen to acquire real peace in his life. O son of Kunti, confidently declare to the public that my devotee never meets ruination.“

“We must not dare to criticize those who are directly
under the charge of Krsna, or we shall accrue great
difficulty. We should try to find the good in them,
for that will help us a great deal.”

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaj

The exclusive devotee is transcendental to piety and sinfulness But one who is engaged in the Lord’s exclusive devotion, ananya-bhajana, has been defined by the Lord in His own words, sarva-dharman parityajya, mam ekam saranam vraja, “My exclusive devotee is he who gives up all phases of duties (sarva-dharman) and surrenders to My feet, accepting only his duty to Me. “ (Bhagavad-gita 18.66)

How, then, having already surpassed all phases of duties and surrendered to the Lord, can that exclusive devotee (ananya-bhak) further be seen to become a ‘dutiful’ or an externally ‘pious man’ (ksipram bhavati dharmatma)? This is an anomaly. Yamaraja, Brahma, Narada, etc., discussed this point, but could not arrive at any solution. How can one become “righteous in the near future.“ when he has already abandoned all kinds of duties, either righteous or unrighteous, in order to exclusively surrender to the feet of the Supreme Lord? Finding no solution, they sent for Srila Bhaktivinod Ţhakur who, they noticed, was moving in the sky and taking the Name of the Lord, “He is a pure devotee – and not an ordinary devotee – he has deep knowledge of the scriptures, so let him come and explain these verses of Bhagavad-gita.“

And so, Srila Bhaktivinod Ţhakur was invited, and he went there. He gave the meaning. Api cet suduracaro, bhajate mam ananya-bhak (Bhagavad-gita 9.30) – despite his outer practices, the exclusive devotee (ananya-bhak) is to be accepted (mantavyah) as a cent-per-cent saint (sadhu). Therefore, the conclusion is that he who can realize this, he who declares that an exclusive devotee of Krsna, regardless of his outer practices, is cent-per-cent saintly – he will soon become dharmatma, virtuous and religious. His statement and conclusion is cent-per-cent correct, and his conduct will soon become very pure and he, too, will have the chance of accepting the path towards eternal truth.

Whether or not we obey provincial laws, we must obey His Absolute law. “So Arjuna, you take advantage of this and boldly declare to the public that My devotee who gives him-self wholly unto Me can never come to ruination. Even if he may be seen to be outwardly doing something wrong – he will be saved. His successful life is assured. By this declaration, you will get the benefit of becoming righteous and have the chance of attaining eternal spiritual peace. Whoever can understand this and has the courage to declare that My exclusive devotee is never subject to ruination – he, in turn, gets his chance to come to this path of exclusive devotion, and he will attain eternal peace.”

He will attain everything because he has the proper appreciation for exclusive devotion. Everything is for the Lord, and not for any other part. In the Absolute, everything is ‘for itself.’ ‘The Absolute is for itself.’ Whether or not we obey or disobey the laws of provincial or separate interest, we must without fail obey the rule that everything is for Him. This is the main rule, and all others are subsidiary. We may or may not carry on our duties, but we must carry on our duty towards the center; this is the all-important factor in every case. Thus, one who can appreciate this and boldly assert it to the public must have substantial appreciation for this conception, and he is sure to survive and improve his future condition very soon. “He will attain the path of eternal peace, and that is the service of Myself, Krsna.” This is the underlying meaning.

The highest quality in every part of the whole is that everyone must be dedicated towards the center, even crossing his dutifulness in respect to any other environmental position. And one who can feel, appreciate, and assert this – he will also soon achieve such a position. His inner heart can appreciate, and that is something of a realization on that path; it will very soon take effect, and the public will see, “Oh, he is also entering this path of ananya-bhajana, the exclusive adherence to the call of the Absolute Center, and that is all-in-all.”

Consider him free from fault

“Dharma means morals, duties, including duties to father, mother, country, society, humanity; etc. But if one neglects all these and keeps a straight relationship towards Me, he will be considered free of any fault. He is in the line of sarva-dharman parityajya, mam ekam saranam vraja (Bhagavad-gita 18.66). He is doing right, and one who can simply appreciate this will also very soon be converted to the same class.” This is the whole purport. In the standard or most general interpretation, the beginner in devotional service may have so many bad tendencies in his behavior, but when he matures these must disappear. Nonetheless, undesirable behavior may sometimes be seen to persist, at least externally.

By chewing his poison, poison will come to me

The more we are particular about the conduct of others, the more we lose our own time and energy. Instead of benefiting us, such a practice is reactionary. If I try to find fault with anyone, especially a devotee, the fault will come back to me. By chewing the poison in his body, that poison will come to me. Avoid such association. Try to find the good in others – that will help you.

There was a system in our Math at the time of our Guru Maharaj: he ordered one devotee to praise another – especially one that the devotee disliked. Thus, the devotee would be forced to find the goodness in the other devotee who he didn’t particularly like, and thereby be benefited. Eliminating what was bad in his conception of the other person, he was to search for what good he could find, and thereby be benefited.

Dare not criticize those under charge of Krsna

There need be no culture with any bad thing, anywhere, especially in the devotees. Krsna has taken charge of His surrendered souls (ananya-bhak). Thus, whatever good or bad may be present in them is His responsibility. Any badness or evil in a devotee may disappear at any time by His will, otherwise Krsna may have that tendency continue in order to serve some purpose of His. We must have this vision. We must not dare to criticize those who are directly under the charge of Krsna, or we shall accrue great difficulty. We should try to find the good in them, for that will help us a great deal. This is not a theoretical matter, but a most practical consideration.

Srila Rūpa Gosvami has given the example that the sacred Ganges water may externally appear to be filthy, but that outward filthiness of mud, bubbles and foam cannot change the purifying capacity of the Ganges water. Similarly, the devotee himself, the pure soul or atma, is the purifying agent – the purest and most normal factor in the world. Whatever may be externally seen in his character is like the mud, bubbles and foam that is found in the Ganges water. The purifying capacity of the Ganges water is separate, and cannot be disturbed by any foam or dirt mixed with the water. The spiritual capacity does not depend in any way on the apparent material capacity. A Vaisnava may sometimes be seen to be a little greedy, a little angry; or physically he may be blind or deaf or lame – but the saintly character of the Vaisnava is independent of the mental or physical characteristics.

During Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s tour of South India, there was the case of Vasudeva-vipra, at Kurmaksetra. He was a leper, but at the same time he was a great devotee. His physical behavior was also uniquely exemplary: if any worms fell from his open sores to the ground, he would pick them up and replace them in the sores so the worms would not die. He was a thorough devotee. Mahaprabhu embraced him, and by the touch of His embrace, the leprosy disappeared.

Also, Srila Sanatana Gosvami contracted sores all over his body due to the contact of bad water in the jungle, when he was returning from Vrndavana to Puri. Mahaprabhu used to welcome him by embracing him, but Sanatana would try to withdraw. He objected, “Don’t touch me! This is the body of a sinful man.” The sores were oozing and emitting a bad odor, but Mahaprabhu embraced him forcibly. Sanatana had decided, “I shall either leave this place or I shall invite death by falling under the wheel of the cart of Lord Jagannatha.” But as the Lord in the heart of all, Mahaprabhu knew Sanatana’s mind. He chastised him, and embraced him, forcibly. All the sores disappeared, and Sanatana’s body immediately became like gold.

Exclusive devotion to Krsna is the only necessity

Mahaprabhu said, “Sanatana, you are a Vaisnava. Your body is not defective. Aprakrta-deha tomara 'prakrta' kabhu naya (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 4.173). Krsna is testing Me. I am a sannyasi, and He is examining whether there is any partiality in My dealings with a Vaisnava simply because of his externally having so many sores. He is examining whether I will shrink from the association of such a Vaisnava and cast him aside. But your body is already pure, and only for the purpose of testing the public, Krsna has created this; and if I cannot see this, I will have failed His test and will have been deceived by Krsna. It is a mere show, it is nothing; your body is pure because you are a Vaisnava, a devotee of Krsna. This impurity is only an appearance in order to serve Krsna’s divine purpose. Wherever there is Vaisnavata, true saintly devotedness, there can never be any contamination.

Only to test my devotion has Krsna sent you to Me in this condition.” So Mahaprabhu embraced him and demonstrated that he was absolutely pure. Whether externally pure or impure, the whole principle is that our exclusive devotion for Krsna is the only necessity. In the ordinary sense, the gopis are also sinners. They crossed the laws of society and the sastras, so they are ‘sinners.’ But they hold the highest position of purity by their exclusive devotedness to Krsna and no other. They cannot help but to serve Krsna cent-per-cent, even at the risk of crossing the entire code of morality. They are considered to be the highest devotional ideal.

But that sort of devotion is not so cheap that everyone will go on with their activities in this world, taking advantage of such ideals. That won’t do. The real measure of devotion must be there, not that anyone may do anything passing in the name of pure devotion, like the prakrta-sahajiyas. That can’t be allowed.

With Sincerity to Safety
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaj

adhisthanam tatha karta
karanam ca prthah-vidham
vividhas ca prthak cesta
daivam caivatra pancamam

(Bhagavad-gita 18.14)

Any event is a combination of many things. But those that are sincere, that are eager to help their own self really, they cannot be misguided for long. That should be our solace, our consolation. “If I do not like to be a party to deceive myself, then none can deceive me in this world.” That fairness of mind one should have, because the vigilant eye of the Absolute is always there. We must have such confidence and such faith that the vigilant eye of the Supreme is everywhere. I may not see that, but He is my best friend and only I want to come to Him and He knows it. So, to Whom I am going, He is looking at everything although I may not. The Absolute is the absolute possibility. The finite is to go to meet the Infinite! It is the most audacious, the most impossible thing, and we are going to make it possible by our inner urge. Our inner urge, that is everything.

Question: So the calculating mentality may not be our best friend?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: It may not be of great help. Of course we cannot avoid calculation when we are in a certain stage. But still we should know that the calculative mentality may not be of much help ultimately. Prayer is more powerful to seek the help of the highest to whom I am trying to go. If I seek His help, then He will send some agent to me. If I should get such an agent on my side along the way, then I will be more secure in my progress. Prayer, prayer and Saraņagati. Prayer reaches to Him only when we surrender.

But calculation may be of the nature of self-analysis: “Here I have nothing, I have no power, so how can I be lifted? My knowledge and my judgment are futile and have got no power. My free will, my judgment, my everything is so meager. So how can it come in contact and make some progress regarding the infinite? This is impossible!” In this way self-analysis will take us to surrender.

“Prayer reaches to Him only when we surrender.”

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaj

Surrender and prayer will be of primary importance to any spiritual student. Saraņagati means surrender. As much as we make surrender towards Him our prayer will be genuine. When I shall see myself as clearly helpless then only will my prayer be substantial and then the help will come accordingly.

On the whole there is only one most important factor - sadhu-sanga. So many things are all interdependent but first importance is to be given to sadhu-sanga. But sadhu-sanga is also affected by the results of so many previous events. So many things are all interdependent but still some points have been given more stress. More importance has been given to firstly sadhu-sanga, then Sastra, then Saraņagati, then prayer. Though many things are there, a complex and interdependent interhelp, but still if we are to select some principle thing for our help the first thing will be sadhu-sanga, association with those more advanced than myself, and next importance will be given to the Sastra, the advices of the great sadhus. With these two we shall take practical steps in Saraņagati. Saraņagati is real when it is sincere. And sincerity means, “I am helpless. By self-analysis I am helpless.” As much as I consider myself to be helpless my prayer to the Lord will be accordingly intense, and the help from that side will come to that degree. Sanga means serving attitude, not physical contact but serving. Higher things can be contacted only through the relationship of serving tendency, not otherwise.

Question: Therefore is prayer a more benedicting activity?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Prayer also should be pure. “O Lord give me my bread,” is also a prayer. And another type of prayer is: “Please save me, I do not know what is my real interest. Please enlighten me.” There are so many different types of prayer and how we pray is determined by our association and our spiritual advice.

Question: Is praying for the revelation of the Absolute more important than glorification of the Absolute?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Yes. “Please You reveal within me what truth is, who am I, where am I, what is my goal of life and how to reach there. Why am I suffering? I do not know how to get out of this miserable life, so please help me. I do not know, but only I can guess that You are goodness, ecstasy and happiness. I want You. I am very tired of my present situation, I cannot tolerate it any longer. Please take me up.”

Question: Should that type of prayer be given more importance and stressed more than the glorification of the Absolute?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: The prayer to the highest degree that we find is: “I want Your connection. You may utilize me. You may think me to be Yours and keeping me in Your connection utilize me according to Your sweet will. I have no particular claim nor aspiration that I must attain this or that, but only I want to be Your faithful servant and so You please utilize me in any way You like. Only that inseparable connection with You I want. I am Your slave: I want to be Your slave. Your connection I want: Your sincere connection, and You know best what connection that is. I do not know what is what, but You know what is best. Only consider me as Your own and utilize me.” That should be the nature of our prayer.

We Must Disbelieve That We Are Devotees
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaj

If we want a guarantee that Krsna will be satisfied with whatever process we undertake, the most important tenet of our movement is that we must act under His agent. His satisfaction depends on that. If the agent is a false man, then our whole effort is wasted. But if he is a real agent, then we must gain through him. If through our connection with him we are connected to Vaikuntha, then our actions will be valued. Otherwise we may lose, and commit offenses: nama-aparadha, seva-aparadha, arcana-aparadha, offenses against the Holy Name, against devotional service, and against the proper worship of the Lord.

“We must not be over-confident of our previous
acquisition. We may have acquired so much, our
progress may be such, but we must not be proud.
We should not be satisfied with ourselves.”

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaj

It is written in the scriptures. If service is not properly done, then we are sure to commit some offenses against the Deity. Either we give satisfaction to Him, or we give some trouble. That is an intolerable way of conducting that holy process. We must guard against nama-aparadha and seva-aparadha. We must not be over-confident of our previous acquisition. We may have acquired so much, our progress may be such, but we must not be proud. We should not be satisfied with ourselves.

Mahaprabhu Himself said, “I am taking the Name, I am showing so much peace, shedding so many tears, in the Name of Krsna. But why? It is all false. My tears are only for show, to convince others that I am such a great devotee.” In such a way we must disbelieve that we are devotees. We must be very careful - very, very careful. Kaviraja Gosvami and Narottama Thakura have written thus.

“I am neglected, I am left behind, I am excluded. I am so low; I am so contaminated. I am rejected from the Infinite lila. I could not utilize this great fortunate wave.” This should be the feeling of a real Vaisnava who has an actual relationship with the Infinite. As much as the finite comes in contact with the Infinite, the disposition cannot but be affected. It is not imitation; it cannot but be the real thing.

“I am empty, I don’t get anything,” that should be our mood. “I feel emptiness within me. I can’t get it, my life is frustrated. My life is going to be frustrated. I don’t get a drop of the grace of the Lord, and I have left the world; everything is gone. If you don’t accept me, I am undone. Please make me a servant of the servant of the servant of the servant. Give me the remotest connection. Graciously give me some remotest connection to Yourself. I can’t tolerate it otherwise.” This heartfelt, heart-rending prayer must come from the devotees of the Lord, then we will find our fortune. The charm for the world outside must be fully eliminated from the heart, fully emptied. And the near future will be filled with the nectar of the grace of Krsna.

Bhukti and mukti, the desires for enjoyment and renunciation are compared with ghosts. These two types of ghosts reside in the heart. So how do we dare to express that bhakti lives in our heart? The noble lady of devotion, will she come there, lying on the same bench with these ghosts? How can we expect that? Have we freed ourselves from all these nasty things that we dare to invite the lady of Krsna-bhakti to come here?

Homeward Journey
Sri Srimad Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaj

Any experience about the Lord must come from upper to lower. It does not depend on us. We can only increase the intensity of our hankering, of our serving attitude (sevonmukhata), and whether He will descend to this plane or not depends on His whim. There is transcendental substance He moves according to His sweet will. He may come down or He may not, at His whim. He is free. We can only increase our earnestness for His presence. Although the potency and the potent are inseparably connected, we must generally know our-selves to be of the marginal potency.

He is everywhere - He is nowhere; everything is within Him - nothing is in Him. Such is His peculiar and mystic position (Bhagavad-gita 9.4-6). Thus, our duty is to try to serve Him. We should not put much emphasis on 'feeling' Him either by mind, by body, or even by intelligence. He is everywhere, and He is nowhere: in a flash He may show, “Yes, I am here”; yet, when we are earnestly searching for Him, He may be nowhere to be found. His nature is independent. We can search, but we cannot say that we shall find Him.

Aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam, adarsanan marma-hatam karotu va: our duty is to devote ourselves cent-per-cent and most intensely for Him. We are only to serve Him. And service does not mean that we must necessarily come into direct contact with Him. Remote service is also service; through His devotee it becomes tangible. We should try to serve Him through His devotees, without expectation of any reward. We should have no desire except to serve, even without expecting to see Him once, to have His darsana. We shall only want to be utilized by Him. The little energy we have must be utilized for His cause. We are His potency, and we should prove that we belong to Him. Mahaprabhu says, “He may embrace me or reject me, or He may even be indifferent towards me. Whatever He likes, He may do, but I have no alternative but to serve Him.” We must adopt such an exclusive and unconditional attitude. Not that, “If He doesn't want to reciprocate according to my will, I won't like to approach Him; so I shall join the atheists or the mayavadis. If You don't come forward to satisfy me, then I shall seek my own way - I don't want You!” If there is any tinge of such an attitude, we are far, far away.

Not His direct contact, but contact with the
greatest agent of His service will constitute
the safer and higher relationship of ananya-
, exclusive service eliminating all else.

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaj

Yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato, mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah. “We have no alternative but to serve You.” To search means to serve: “I want to be utilized for His cause. However petty the service may be, nothing is petty when in His connection, the least connection, even from far away. He need not please me, even by giving His darsana in a lightning way. Everything depends on His will.”

Unconditional offering unto Him shows faith of the highest type. If our offering is conditional, we shall have to remain far from Him. The characteristic of the highest faith is absolutely unconditional: “I am only to be satisfied with just the chance to serve Him from afar, through some medium; or many mediums, not only one. Dasa-dasa-dasanudasatvam - servant of the servant of the servant of the servant . . . I have His connection from afar, and my energy passes through the devotees, towards Him, towards the center of fulfillment. Whatever my position may be, I want my connection with the greatest fulfillment of the whole world!” Everyone is searching for such fulfillment of all their innermost necessities.

Sarva-dharman parityajya, mam ekam saranam vraja (Bhagavad-gita 18.66): the search for Him eliminates all other duties. A true devotee thinks, “There is no obligation to anyone except one, and He is my Lord, Krsna.” And His most laudable and greatest servitors are those who are in contact with His greatest agent. Not His direct contact, but contact with the greatest agent of His service will constitute the safer and higher relationship of ananya-bhajana, exclusive service eliminating all else.

Lord of the Cows
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaj

At that time, Krsna pointed out, "You see! You thought that Govardhana Hill was only a heap of stone. No - it is living, it is the Supreme Personality of Godhead." At that time, Krsna revealed Himself as Govardhana Hill and showed how it is also His extended self. According to authorities in our line, Radha-kunda is the extended self of Srimati Radharani and Govardhana is the extended self of Krsna. And so we worship a stone from Govardhana Hill, a part of Giridhari, as Krsna Himself. We may understand from this that a part of the infinite is infinite. And yet so feeble is our ordinary vision that although Govardhana-sila is a part of the infinite, and therefore also infinite, to our material vision it is only a piece of stone.

This pastime shows that a thing may appear to be ordinary stone, but its possibility is infinite. In the general sense, Einstein's theory of relativity has announced that anything we see is that thing plus something more. In his own scientific way he explains that the reality of a thing includes its possibilities, its prospect - reality is not at a standstill.

Reality is not limited to what is seen or conceived by our senses. Our vision or estimation of anything may be limited, but unknown to us, its prospect may be unlimited. Everything has infinite possibility. We do not even know what infinite possibility a particle of sand may have. We do not know what sort of possibility may exist within a leaf of a plant. It may appear ordinary, but it may contain invaluable medicinal properties.

A part of the infinite is also infinite. The Govardhana-sila represents Krsna as the master and keeper of cows. Within Govardhana is that mild and soft conception of God the Beautiful. We beg for His mercy, His affection, and His gracious glance upon us.

That may save us from the negative influence of this material environment. When we try to put a stop to our material form of life and take our course towards Godhead, Krsna consciousness, neglecting the imperative duties that are upon us, so many difficulties may come to trouble us, to trap us in our journey towards the ultimate truth. But if we stick to the order of Krsna, He will protect us. Krsna confirms this in Bhagavad-gita:

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

He says, "Abandon all other conceptions of duty and just surrender unto Me. Have no fear. I shall protect you and free you from all sinful reactions that might arise from neglecting your ordinary duties."

Different material tendencies and mental impulses may attack us - even Indra himself, the king of heaven and the controller of all ordinary activities, may attack us - but if we are attentive towards our goal, if we are careful to read the order of Krsna, He will protect us in the shade of His lotus feet. He will give us shelter under the shade of Govardhana Hill, where no Indra will be able to touch our heads. And with full faith that Krsna will give us protection, we should try to take shelter under Govardhana Hill and pray: "O Krsna, give me protection from all the difficulties that may come to attack me because of my leaving behind my ordinary obligations."

Although many anomalies may try to catch us, Krsna will protect us. And in His representation as Govardhana Hill, that wonderful master of the cows will save us from all sorts of difficulties. How is this possible? God works wonders. His ways are unknown and inconceivable.

(from the book Loving Search for the Lost Servant)

The Honest Inquirer
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

We should note the difference between a servant and a trader. Many approach with some trading purpose, but the character of the real devotee should be that of a servant. Sri Prahlada Maharaja has mentioned that one who associates with the sadhus, wanting something in return for his personal interest, is making 'trade' with the sadhus. He thinks, "How much can I gain, and how much shall I have to give?" But a pure devotee should not have any such separate interest. Rather, he should try to merge within the interest of the Lord. In whatever position he is, it does not matter - whether he is a brahmacari, a sannyasi, a grhastha, a vanaprastha or any other position - he must be willing to merge (visate tad anantaram).

He will not like to keep any separate account. His sole objective will be to enter into the family of the Godhead. This is the very basis of pure devotion. Tato mam tattvato jnatva, visate tad anantaram (Bg. 18.55). We want to surrender, to be one of common interest with the Lord, and not to approach, ask some questions, pocket the answers, and then make trade with them elsewhere in any way. Once, when I was being asked many questions, I replied, "This is not an inquiry office. The inquisitive want to satisfy their idle curiosity; or, they want to be masters of many keys - that they will be able to give solutions to everyone's problems, and attain some status. They have many motives but they cannot understand the real necessity.

My sole inquiry is, 'How can I be utilized here?'

We require specific articles to execute worship, such as incense, flowers, lamp, etc. Similarly, if we wish to realize the supersubjective plane, there are three specific necessities: pranipata, pariprasna, and seva. Without these three ingredients, our search will be imitative, unsubstantial and farcical.

“Once, when I was being asked many questions, I replied, "This is not an inquiry office. The inquisitive want to satisfy their idle curiosity; or, they want to be masters of many keys - that they will be able to give solutions to everyone's problems, and attain some status. They have many motives but they cannot understand the real necessity. ”

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

Pranipata means 'to fall flat near the feet of the worshipable': "I have come to the end of all enterprise with my previous plane of life; I could find nothing there to fulfill my life's objectives. Finally, after 'completing my errands,' I have come here." This is the practical symptom of pranipata.

Pariprasna means 'sincere inquiry.' Honest and sincere inquiry is allowed. The spirit of such inquiry is, "I want to know how I can be utilized in any way. All the charm for living elsewhere is over. My sole inquiry is 'How can I be utilized here?' "

And seva, service, is the all-important factor. "I have come to serve and to be utilized for the cause of the subject about which I have inquired. I have not come to take anything from here. I have come only to serve, with no other motive."

Try to keep company with the successful candidates
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

tesam evanukampartham, aham ajnana-jam tamah
nasayamy atma-bhava-stho, jnana-dipena bhasvata

“I am so indebted to those devotees that whenever they feel the pain of My separation, I cannot tolerate it. I immediately run to cooperate with them in accepting My service. Such is the intensity of the demand I feel from them.”

(Bhagavad-gita 10.11)                             

In an examination hall, many of us may sit for the examination, yet many are unsuccessful and fall back. But we are not to dwell on them. Rather, we shall try to keep company with the successful candidates. They should be the focus of our attention, and with their help we shall progress. Progress means selection and elimination, and there is no end of making progress. We must take courage to that extent.

Everywhere and in whatever direction we may go, we shall find both successful and unsuccessful candidates. We shall try to avoid the unsuccessful. Some may be brilliant in the primary classes, but in pro-gressing further, we find that they are proving dull and cannot pass the test. And there may be many who were not very successful in the primary classes but flourish in higher education. Thus, we should not be discouraged and disappointed on hearing that so many once respected stalwarts are falling away. We should try to feel the actual soil. We need a sincere acquaintance with the soil on which we are moving. It is unintelligible to the fullest extent, but we must spare some energy to cultivate a deeper feeling for where we are, what we want, and where we are going. We must have a deeper feeling for the plane of our objective and achievement. We must not allow ourselves to be captured by the outer charm of things, but we should try to feel and trace the reality as our friend.

“Progress means selection and elimination, and there is no end of making progress. We must take courage to that extent.”

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

klesa-ghni subhada moksa-, laghuta-krt sudurllabha
sandrananda-visesatma, sri-krsnakarsini ca sa

Uttama-bhakti, the purest devotion, is the vanquisher of all sin and ignorance, and the bestower of all auspiciousness; liberation is belittled in the presence of such devotion, which is very rarely attained, the embodiment of the deepest ecstasy, and the attractor of Sri Krsna Himself.”

(Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.1.17)

Even if we achieve liberation from all the undesirable forces around us, pure devotion undermines this position of liberation (moksa-laghuta-krt). We may be a liberated soul, free from the reactions and apprehension of the future, but association with the positive engagement, bhakti, is much more difficult to attain (sudurllabha). To obtain a passport is not the same as securing a ‘visa.’ One may have a passport, but in order to secure a visa it will have to be necessary to undergo more trouble. In other words, we may be released by the reactionary plane, yet we may not have entrance into the higher plane. To have entrance there is far beyond this liberation. The qualification to eagerly aspire to give oneself wholly for the other plane of life is hardly to be found in anyone. Such a person has no motive to acquire anything for the plane in which he had previously been living for so long.

Furthermore, if he is appointed to be a preacher, an agent to do relief work here, he will execute that duty solely under the appointment of, and in the interest of, that higher plane, without any attachment that “I shall bring some good to the people.” He will think, “I must put myself wholly at the disposal of the higher plane, and I shall not be eager to become an acarya, a spiritual master. Otherwise, there is the danger of committing namaparadha, offense against the Lord’s name.”

Asraddadhane vimukhe 'py asrnvati, yas copadesa siva-namaparadhah. It is an offense to give the holy name to the faithless. It betrays the motivation to gain a ‘position’ in the higher sphere. This is a type of mundane attachment, a spiritual tradery, as is the habit of caste ‘Gosvamins’ and other spurious lines. Rather, the healthy attitude should be, “If I am appointed from above, then I shall serve as appointed, and that too, only for the interest of those who have appointed me. I am entering that rank solely for the interest of that higher land.” That should be the pure and perfect approach.

So, with a passport alone we cannot hope to enter easily into that higher plane which is sudurllabha, very rarely attained. But if we can enter, we shall feel sandrananda visesatma, “Yes, the very plane itself is most happy and full of independent spirit. I desired to secure a ‘visa’ to enter this country, and now I find that it really is as promised. I directly perceive that I am breathing in a far higher, sweeter atmosphere - a homely atmosphere that far excels anything of my previous soil.” And finally, sri-krsnakarsini ca sa: Krsna Himself, Reality the Beautiful, who attracts the hearts of all - even He is attracted by the dedication of his surrendered servitor. Neither power nor knowledge have any play in this domain, but the Sweet Absolute is captured by the love of His devotee.

Gradations of the Holy Name
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

Namaparadha – Chanting the name with offenses. Aparadha means to disfigure, not to deal properly but to mishandle something. By such mishandling we cannot get our desired result. In the laboratory a scientist is making an experiment, but an experiment is only successful when everything is properly handled. Otherwise there may be an explosion and the scientist may die.

Namabhasa – Shadow expressions of the holy name that can give liberation. They may take us to the abscissa from the negative side, but they cannot give any positive attainment. There is neither any exploiting tendency there, nor any serving tendency – that is a marginal position.

Suddha-nama – The pure name, must have its original form in nirguna bhumika, far beyond the misconception of maya. The influence of maya reaches up to Viraja; then there is Brahmaloka, then Paravyoma (spiritual sky). The real Name must have its origin in Paravyoma, and Krsna-nama originates in Goloka, the most original plane of the whole existence. To be really Krsna-nama, it must have its origin in the highest plane of Vrndavana.

“The Name must be taken from Gurudeva,
and it should be chanted in the association
of the sadhu (saint).”

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

It is true that an infinite magnitude of sin may be removed, dispersed, and dismissed by one utterance of the Name. But that Name must not be only the physical sound. It must have as its characteristics those of Vaikuntha: unlimited, eternal, from the plane of eternity. Sadhu-sanga, the Name must be taken from Gurudeva, and it should be chanted in the association of the sadhu.

If we take the Name, then there must be service. Sat-sanga. Sadhu-sanga Krsna-nama. Service means to dedicate oneself completely to that which we serve. In that way we shall take the Name. For what purpose are we taking the Name of the Lord? Kanaka, kamini, pratistha: not for money, not for sense gratification, not to achieve popularity. We are ready to sacrifice ourselves completely for Him, for His Name. With that attitude we shall take the Name.

For the Name to be Krsna, Krsna has to descend there. Don’t be self-deceptive; do not think that in taking the Name we have become great sadhus. It is not like that. Krsna has to come down in the form of the sound to us. He is spiritual; He is transcendental. Sevonmukhe, our complete surrender towards Him will attract Him, and He’ll graciously come down to grace us in the form of the Name, in our actions, in performing our duties. At every step He will come.

Truth by Installments
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

Question: How do we reconcile the fact that in some sastras it says that Siva is supreme?

Srila Sridhar Maharaja: Siva is a type who is inquiring after something but Visnu is a type who has everything within. Siva is searching.

The sastra says differently for different sections according to their capability of catching the truth. In the primary literature it may be said that the sun is fixed and the planets are moving but in higher astronomy it may be said that the sun is also moving, with all the planets also moving around it. But to the children the whole truth may not be said. The truth is given partially, and by installments. Sastra has adopted this policy of giving things by installments in order that it will be acceptable accordingly by the different sections. Then when they will reach to that standard the sastra will come to say, "This is not the end, my boy. You will have to go further." This policy has been adopted in the sastra by the givers of the revealed truth.

loke vyavayamisa-madya-seva
nitya hi jantor na hi tatra codana
vyavasthitis tesu vivaha-yajna
sura-grahair asu nivrttir ista
(Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.11)

Partially, by installments, the truth is being distributed to them because they cannot accept the whole truth. They cannot understand the whole truth at once. The scripture advises that, "If you want to be united with the ladies, then marry and in that way go on. If you want to take fish and meat, then you dedicate it to a certain deity and in society you take it partially under the direction of a particular company who will make such arrangements. Your merit will be given to that animal whose body you are taking, but go on in contact with that company and take meat." The advice is meant like that.

Similarly: "If you want to take wine, then first offer it to such-and-such god and then take it." But it is not that, "You do not want it but I am forcing it on you." Rather, "Because you cannot imagine your existence without the help of these things I am giving some provision to you under some restriction. Then again I will come and take you up to the further, higher advice: 'Now take this!"'

Then, presently the sastra tells, "Already for fifty years you have been trying to enjoy, now come to the life of renunciation: give up everything. Come and devote yourself exclusively in the search for the future life in a scientific way." In this way the progressive steps are given. Human life itself is gradually progressing: first there is student life, then household life, to work, then the third life is for retirement, and the fourth life, sannyasa , is for giving up everything and going on independently. In this way there is classification in the human life.

In the section of the Puranas known as the Saiva Puranas it tells that Siva is supreme. The Puranas are divided into three. In all there are eighteen in number: six are sattvik, the upper division, six are rajasik, the middle division; and six are tamasik, the lower division. This classification is mentioned in the Puranas.

In Gaudiya-Kanthahar you will find mention of all these things: the classification of the Puranas. Some are meant for the lower, some for the middle and some for the higher sections of society. For this purpose the Puranas are divided into three groups of six. Vedartha-puranat: the Puranas are supplementary to the meanings of the Vedas, the higher revelation scriptures. The Puranas are called Puranas because they make the meaning of the Veda full. According to the degree and capacity of the people, sastra has approached in different levels.

Question: So can we say that the Puranas are giving a lower conception?

Srila Sridhar Maharaja: Some Puranas are giving the lower or minimum conception: "The minimum is that you do this." The Manu-samhita says: "I am giving a list of fishes by name: 'Eat these particular types of fish but do not take these other species.' That does not mean that without fish if you go on then that will he bad. But because you cannot do without taking these things, because it is inconceivable for you to go on with your life without taking these things, I am giving the advice, 'That type will create some disease, that one will create some mischief, that one even more mischief, therefore the less mischievous things you should take.' But my underlying meaning is that I shall call you after some time, 'Go up!'. That indomitable spirit is within you to get all these lower things, so I must at least advise you to do something. (Pravrtti esa bhutanam)“

The Upanisads make the analogy of riding on a horse. The horse is running towards a particular direction and, although the rider pulls on the reins, the horse won't come back. Then he is allowed to go at his free-will for some time and then again the rider draws on the reins In this way, after some attempts, the horse will come back on course: it can be turned. In the Upanisads it is mentioned that our ego is running like the horse. This body is a chariot and the senses are like horses taking me towards their particular wrong directions, But I shall try to take them, to alter their course to some other direction. They may not care for me so what to do but let them go a little ahead for some time. But I shall try again and again and eventually I shall see that the horse is responding to my command. The indomitable tendency towards this exploitation is here (pravrttir-esa bhutanam). But what to do except give it all up and go to the other side beyond indifference and abnegation (nivrttis tu mahaphala) . And that is proper adjustment.

yajnarthat karmano nyatra, loko yam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya, mukta-sangah samacara
(Bhagavad-gita - 3.9)

Everything should be connected with the Center otherwise you will be responsible for exploitation and thereby get reaction. But if you can connect everything according to the scripture, according to the rules to deal with the Center, then you are relieved from your local responsibility, You must work in the Central intensity and the Center will make adjustment.

His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Paramahamsa 108 Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura Prabhupada

1st january 2013 tirobhava mahotsava (celebration of his disapperance)

Let the whole world burn into ashes!
Sri Srimad Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

Let me tell you about an incident from the time when I first came to the Math to be at the lotos feet of my Guru Maharaja. The temple in Sri Mayapur had been opened and the deities had been instaled there The circumbulation of Sri Navadvipa Dhama on the occasion of Sri Gaura Purnima had also taken place. At the end of the festival everyone was going back home. Srila Prabhupada was sitting in a canvas chair and so many others were surrounding him. Some were giving dandavats and going away – taking leave to go home.

Then Prabhupad began saying, “Apanara amake vancana kariben na – You should not deceive me!” Prabhupad announced. My ear was very acute and I thought, “Where is the question of deception?” Festival had ended, everyone was going home, how they were deceiving him? “You came to me with the understanding that you have come for the service of Krsna and with that idea I also accepted you as my friends. Now you have attended this particular ceremony only as a fashion and you are going away again, back into family life. I feel that I am being cheated.”

Prabhupad went on, “If you say ‘I have some urgent business, I am coming, I am only finishing a little job.’ No, no! There is nothing that should detain you there in your family duties. Even if anyone says that, ‘A fire is there, please allow me to extinguish the fire and I will come back.” No! That is also not necessary. What the fire will burn is not your own. Rather, your necessity is to get out of the charm of what the fire burns. All your internal engagement is with Krsna. The internal demand in your atma, in your soul, all can be satisfied by Krsna – nowhere else. You may find there the wholesale engagement of your self and you should leave this mal-engagement as soon as possible.”

He was speaking very forcefully and that captured my heart. “Oh, such a degree to which the service of Krsna is so much imperative to us, that even the whole world is reduced to ashes, it is no harm to us.” All our demands can only be fulfilled by Krsna. This is our relation with Krsna. Such an extreme statement of fact, of the spiritual necessity. I won’t hear this anywhere else, but I heard it there with such intense necessity for the service of Krsna. So I had my determination that, “I shall come here for my whole life!” I decided on that day.

“All of your inner hankering you may fulfill in the holy feet of Krsna. Krsna can satisfy all your inner hankerings. And this environment to which you give so much importance is your enemy. That has kept you away from Krsna consciousness. Your real place, proper home, it is here.” So he told this in such a way that I sold my life there in the service of Krsna. Such a degree of intensity I have never seen, I never thought it was possible – that in the present world we should serve Krsna, not losing even a second. The whole world may be burning to ashes, I do not lose anything. On the other side, if I get out of that snare, that snare of affection, then I am saved. All my hankerings can be satisfied in detail only in the service of Krsna – my inner hankering. Never and nowhere else can that be found. I sold my head there. Everything!

Beyond the Yogi
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

Devotee: Why don't the Gaudiya Vaisnavas use any yoga practices such as yoga-asanas, pranayama, etc. in their service to Krsna?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: The Gaudiya Vaisnavas discard any artificial things. God is with the heart and that is the important part. We are to appeal to the heart and have transaction with the heart, and not that by manipulation of the natural forces we shall gain some mystic power and try to exert that on God. Is that a form of worship? For one who has a heart, the hearty transaction is the most natural. And that is service. Satisfaction is for the Lord so what is the value of trying to gain some power from elsewhere and by dint of that, to try to encroach upon Him? What is the result of doing yoga? It will give some power but what effect can that power have on Him? None. We are not to try to exert our energy upon Him, but the opposite is necessary. We are to consider that we are the most fallen of the fallen and the meanest of the mean. "I want Your grace. Please accept me as a slave, as Your meanest servant." This is the way to approach the higher and not that we are to gather some power and by dint of that power jump on that Superior Entity, for that is not the process of getting Him, of receiving His favour. Favour is favour! The Lord is all-complete and all-perfect. If we want His favour we must approach keeping ourselves in the meanest position. We have no position. We are nowhere. We are wholesale dependent upon Him. This is our natural position, our constitutional position. We are wholly dependent upon Him. So any petition to Him must be with this temperament: "I want Your favour. Your grace. Please accept me. I am so heinous, so sinful, and the meanest of the mean. You are my best friend, but neglecting You I left and went somewhere else to search for my prospect, I was so mean. I am not only a sinner but I am a traitor, a treacherous man." In this way we are to go back to our highest and most affectionate friend.

What help will this yoga power do for me? He is above all seduction. Shall I think that with the power of yoga I shall influence Him to favour me? It is not possible for Him to be controlled in any way by yogic power; so yoga can give me no benefit. What will yoga do for me? He is all-independent, absolute. He is perfect in Himself. To try to exert other influences upon Him will have no effect rather that will anger Him. Instead we are to approach Him with some recommendation or with a guardian.

The Guru and Vaisnavas are our guardians. We are not to go to any external power of nature but to His agents, and ask them to plead for us. By yoga we can acquire some subtle power, but no power can work on Him against His sweet will. We must approach Him in the line of His sweet will and with those who have faith in His sweet will. Those who have faith in His sweet will are His devotees. Through them we must approach Him and not by any attempt through any other power, for that will give just the opposite result. If we want to know Him, it is futile! We cannot know Him by our attempts. Still, if we find such necessity, we shall pray, "Please make Yourself known to me," otherwise it is not necessary to waste our energy asking that He will reveal Himself. If we can leave the idea that we must know Him then that request becomes redundant. Rather our mood should be, "I want to satisfy You. I want to contribute something for Your satisfaction. Please accept me. You are full. You are perfect. You have no needs, but for my necessity please give me some sort of service." Service means in the line of satisfaction to Him, and that should be our attitude to approach Him. To approach a friend, an affectionate friend, so many mystic persons should not be called to help in our attempt.

yamadibhir yoga-pathaih, kama-lobha-hato muhuh
mukunda-sevaya yadvat, tathatmaddha nil samyati
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.6.35)

It may be possible for us to control our senses to a certain extent and for some time by the practice of yoga, but yoga cannot give the Absolute. That He is Absolute means He is above all. Absolute means that He is self-sufficient; He is not dependent on any other thing. Yoga can only help us to control our mental and physical anomalies or eccentricities, that too only for the time being, not for eternity. For the time being, lust, anger, greed, illusion, etc. (kama, krodha, lobha, moha, etc.) all may be brought under control but only for some temporary period. Mukunda-sevaya— but if we can engage ourselves in the service of Mukunda, then all disturbances will leave us once and for all. By finding the sweet taste in His service and company, all these so-called charming proposals will retire eternally. The charm for lust, the charm for anger or for greed, all these things will vanish altogether and won't come back again if only we can get the taste of serving the Lord, Mukunda.

naham vedair na tapasa, na danena na cejyaya sakya evam-vidho
drastum, drstavan asi yan mama bhaktya tv ananyaya sakya,
aham evam-vidho 'rjjuna jnatum drastum ca tattvena,
pravestum ca parantapa

(Srimad Bhagavad-gita 11.53,54)

"All other means fail. Only exclusive devotion can draw Me as you see Me here, Arjuna, but other things cannot lead to such a position. Temporary devotion also will not be sufficient, but what is necessary is permanent, exclusive devotion."

sarvva-dharmman parityajya, mam ekam saranam vraja
(Bhagavad-gita 18.66)

"Reject all else and only concentrate on My own Self for that is the only sort of devotion that can draw Me to the devotee. All else is futile and shameful. It is not that someone will come with hired persons to canvas Me. No! My agents are the best benefactors to you. They are searching to canvas persons in my favour. My agents are there and not for any business purpose. Their business is to do good to others, and with this idea so many agents are out to canvas for Me. Come through them and do not seek any recommendation from outside to use various means to try to force Me to favour you. That is not the proper path, but come to Me through My own agents. They have no aspiration to fulfil for themselves. They are all-given to My service and they are wandering trying to recruit persons, to benefit them. So come through My agents, never otherwise. What is yoga? There is air and there are so many things but by controlling those do you think you will force JMe to come to you? I am the Absolute Autocrat. I don't care for anything else. I have no necessity to care for anything else. Not any force, any tactics, any cunning methods, any canvassing— nothing can influence Me. I am the Autocrat. And admitting the line of autocracy, try to come to Me. There are many demigods. They are making trade, but I am not amongst the commodities of their trading. None can make trade with Me. I am Absolute. I look only for devotion, exclusive devotion which is not formal, but natural, hearty and sincere. I look for that. I look for the heart and not for anything else— bhava-grahi-janarddanah."

patram puspam phalam toyam, yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtdm, asnami prayatatmanah
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita 9.26)

"Whatever My devotee offers to Me with sincere devotion, with sincere affection, I accept that. It does not matter whether it is a leaf, a flower, water, or anything else. Rich food or rich presentations are not necessary for Me, but what I want is the heart. I want sincerity and good faith. That is the highest requirement within Me."

There is a carefully written poem: "Oh Krsna, You have everything but only You do not have Your heart. Your heart has been stolen by the Gopis. You have everything except for Your heart and mind, they are not present in You for they have already been stolen by the Gopis. So You take my heart. You accept my mind. That is what is wanting in You, so please accept my heart and mind for Yourself. Your heart is missing, and that lias attracted my heart towards You, so please take it."

Gaudiya Matha stands for the dignity of the human race!
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

If we get the association of a real sadhu even for a moment, then that may turn the direction of our life. A sadhu is like a very valuable gem. What he gives is far more valuable than anything in this world. One may have gems, diamonds, money or a kingdom but they are not valuable to all. This is all mortal even though they may be valuable to a particular class of human thought. There are so many things in creation that are nothing to the sadhu. But anandam, sweetness, has a general value. It is necessary even for the tree, the creeper and even the stone. In whatever position the seeker may be in, he will be highly satisfied.

Yasmin prapti sarvam idam praptam bhavati – if we get a little of that, we think that, “No other thing but this can satisfy me. This is the thing for which I have been striving for after so many lives together. Now I have found the object of my search.” We can find higher things only through the connection of service. If we want the association of things of a higher type then we must offer ourselves to their service. We must keep this broad thought always in mind. I cannot utilize it as if it is my servant. But I shall offer to be a servant of Him, if I really want His association. Only through service can I be connected with Him. I shall work for His interest. His interest will be more valuable than that of mine.

jivera svarüpa haya krsnera nitya dasa
krsnera tatastha-sakti bhedabheda prakasa

The constitutional position of the living entity is as an eternal servant of Krsna. Because the living entity is of the marginal potency of Krsna, his manifestation is simultaneously one with and different from Him. (Cc. Madhya 20.108)

It is our fortune that we, in our constitutional position, have the position of a slave to Krsna. Slavery. Those who are free would be astounded to hear this word ‘slavery’. The Gaudiya Matha is preaching slavery! The Ramakrishna Mission and others preached against Gaudiya Matha, “They are preaching slavery! This Gaudiya Matha promotes slave mentality – that I am Krsna dasa, a servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord. That means they are preaching slave mentality. And we are preaching so-ham – we are the big Brahman! We are the biggest. We are the greatest. Instead of that the Gaudiya Matha says you are a slave to Krsna. The Gaudiya Matha is creating a bad impression in society, discouraging people.” Prabhupada told, “Gaudiya Matha stands for the dignity of the human race! The whole human race wants immortality. Gaudiya Matha stands for the most dignified position. Slavery, surrender – surrender to what? To the Absolute Good, to the Absolute Center. To become the slave of Krsna is not a joke. That impossible thought that, “I am Brahman!” That is the greatest disease. “I am the biggest and I want to be the monarch of all I survey” means. “I am the most heinous exploiting agent.” We are so eager to get imperial service, we are so eager to get a higher service in the administration, but to get service in the highest management of the Supreme Lord – that is the most dignified thing. The Gaudiya Matha stands for the dignity of the human race! What is the human race? They are like the mist, like the trees, creepers, and worms – the prey of death. The king will also have to die helplessly, the big general, the politician – all will have to go and face death for eternity. But the Gaudiya Matha stands for the eternal dignified position – friendly service to the Supreme Entity. The Gaudiya Matha says complete selfabnegation, self-surrender to the prime cause. To give is divine and the aspiration that, “I can get,” that is devilish. “I want to lord it over everything” – that is a devilish spirit. But Krsna is such that slavery to Him is the highest attainment for us in His relationship. That is not easily achieved.

Srila Prabhupada with the devotees of Sri Gaudiya Matha. First in the second line (from right side) is standing young Srila Sridhara Maharaja

How to persevere on this journey? (2nd part)
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

mac-cittā mad-gata-prānā, bodhayantah parasparam
kathayantaś ca mām nityam, tusyanti ca ramanti ca
(Bhagavad-gita 10.9)

Mac-citta: "Their attention is in Me"; mad-gata-prana: "Their energy is also spent for my cause"; bodha-yantah parasparam: "They mutually assist one another." This reminds us of the 'Napoleonic chair.' Once, when stranded in a marsh, Napoleon arranged that each man sit on the lap of another, in a circular formation; each automatically protected the other from the otherwise fatal cold and they could all remain awake to pass the whole night of intolerable cold. Otherwise his army would have perished So, by mutual help, one devotee is asking questions, another is answering, and they are both getting engagement. The questioner is giving some energy and the answerer is also energizing. Bodhayantah parasparam: those of equal standing exchange their thoughts about Krsna - kathayantas ca mam nityam - and thereby their blissfulness is generated. By mutual understanding and discussion, a kind of nectar arises that nourishes the devotees. "One is asking something about Me and another is answering, and thereby that discussion creates a flow of nectar that nourishes both parties." Tusyanti ca ramanti ca: "Satisfaction is generated from that mutual understanding, and it develops up to ramanti ca, up to the quality of the absolute reciprocation, the 'wholesale transaction.' It rises up to that standard, ramanti ca, and again I give them a further installment, an illumination of new light (dadami buddhi-yogam tam), and they take a new course and are promoted into the 'suicide squad,' that squadron which is eligible for every type of service."

To be competent for any type of sacrifice or service

That particular type of 'soldier' is competent to fight on the land, in the water, in the sky or in any circumstances, and he is prepared for any form of fighting, any form of service. "I direct them to that section."

Yena mam upayanti te (Bg. 10.10). Unconditional service: they are ready for any service demanded of them. They are ready to sacrifice their lives for any form of service, and that peculiar group is in Vrndavana. I mentioned to Sripada A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja that in Gita, after ramanti (10.9) comes buddhi-yoga and then upayanti (10.10); according to me, the meaning is that ramanti or divine service in madhura-rasa progresses through buddhi-yoga or yoga-maya, up to upayanti, or the highest plane of service in Vrndavana. Sripada Swami Maharaja responded, "What more could it mean than this!"

Hence, upayanti means kama-rupa. In his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Goswami has mentioned sambandha-rupa and kama-rupa, the two types of Ragatmika-bhakti, or devotion rendered by the Eternal Associates of the Lord, headed by the residents of Vraja. In sambandha-rupa the Lord's Associates cooperate according to their fixed relative positions of dasya, sakhya,vatsalya or madhura, whereas in kama-rupa they come forward to serve any necessity that is demanded of them. They are ready to serve any and every desire of the Absolute.

They are like that group of soldiers who have been trained to do any service in the war without being limited to fighting only in a particular division such as the army, navy or air force. They are prepared for all sorts of service, anywhere. Such is the kama-rupa group. This is upayanti te; they are awarded the instruction (dadami buddhi-yogam tam) by which they earn such capacity in the service of the Supreme. Krsna is ready to cooperate with the servitors in any position. In Mathura, He gave even Sairindhri, Kubja, the chance to render higher service. Krsna is prepared for anything, and so the other side, His servitors, must also be prepared in that way. The high conception of kama-rupa is very, very abstruse. It is most difficult for ordinary mortals to comprehend.

tesām evānukampārtham, aham ajñāna-jam tamah
nāśayāmy ātma-bhāva-stho, jñāna-dīpena bhāsvatā
(Bhagavad-gítá 10.11)

"I am so indebted to those devotees that whenever they feel the pain of My separation, I cannot tolerate it. I immediately run to cooperate with them in accepting My service. Such is the intensity of the demand I feel from them."

Explanation of this topic and the key to sanskrt terms is to be found in
commentaries on verses 9 and 10 of the tenth chapter of Srimad Bhagavad-gita
, “The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute” writen by Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja.

How to persevere on this journey? (1st part)
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

We need lasting faith, not flickering faith: "Oh, I attempted for some time but I did not find any tangible fruit from bhakti, so I left"; or, "To me, it seemed very, very vague. When I began, I thought this to be something tangible that I would quickly attain, but it is not so. It is uncertain. I am giving so much energy for the cause, but still the desired result is not achieved." Previous tendencies also draw from the negative side, and so we find that many stalwarts are falling.

Still, we have to persevere in this journey, and we shall have to take courage from those who are standing and who are deeply engaged. Though it is told hundreds of times that the Absolute is infinite, in the beginning we still tend to take it in the conception of the finite. We are accustomed to think of anything and everything in terms of finite. So, although we hear that it is infinite, it is Vaikuntha, it has no limit - we nonetheless cannot grasp the proper meaning. But when we make practical progress, many new conceptions must come to our knowledge.

Now, when our Guru Maharaja addressed his disciples as vipada uddharana bandhu-gana, "My dear friends who have come to deliver me from danger," we should, of course, recognize such a statement from both the relative and absolute standpoints. Students are a necessary part of a professor - when a professor has students, he feels the practical utility of his life has been successful. Thus, from the relative point of view, disciples can help the Acarya. But from the absolute standpoint, Krsna's will is everything, and the nitya-siddha or eternally perfect great souls who inwardly know the Lord's intentions cannot be disturbed by any danger in any respect, but outwardly such an appearance may be manifest in their dealings.

Try to avoid the land of death
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

Generally, if all our activity is stopped by unfavourable weather, we think, “This is very bad.” We are men of action, men who exploit the environment and nature for gathering some energy. We are always trying to collect some energy for our use. That is our nature. The very nature of those who live in this mortal world is to collect more and more energy and wealth that can be utilized in a time of need.

If there is any hindrance to that end, we think it is a very bad circumstance, in opposition to the object of our life. But to remind us about the importance of our inner wealth, we are advised that the outer nature cannot do us so much harm as can our internal nature – that is, our apathy to collect more wealth for the inner existence, the inner self. Be mindful of that.

Losing things of this mortal world is not bad; it is all coming and going. The body itself, the centre of all this activity, will also vanish. Then what is the necessity of collecting so much energy for the bodily connection? So, awaken your consciousness. Find the real person within – the soul. Search him out and try to help him. That is possible only with help from the sadhu.

The day in which we do not find any saint or have any discussion about the real purpose of life – the inner life, the inner substance – that day we are the loser. Be conscious of that. In all respects, in any way possible, mind your own lesson – mind your own interest.

Find your own self-interest. Be unmindful towards the external world and circumstances dive deep into reality, the inner world. Find your inner self, the inner world where you really live where your inner self is living. Try to find your Home, go back to God, back to Home. Your energy must be utilized for going Home not for wandering in this land of death.

Try to avoid the land of death at any cost. Always try to find the eternal soil, that soil to which you belong. Try to understand what is your home, why it is your home. Home comfort – what does it mean? It means our birthplace, the place where you are born. In Srimad Bhagavatam we find this verse:

satam prasangan mama virya-samvido
bhavanti hrt-karana-rasayanah kathah
taj-josanad asv apavarga-varmani
sraddha ratir bhaktir anukramisyati
(Srimad Bhagavatam 3.25.25)

“In the association of pure devotees, discussions about Me are very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. Such talks, which are full of spiritual potency, are a source of sweetness, and by such cultivation, the path of liberation from worldly life quickly opens. Then gradually one attains firm faith which, in due course, develops into taste and then real love for Me.”

Faith is the only capital - Faith in the real devotees brings us to a tangible thing
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

We must be conscious of our real position when we are searching for Krsna. It is not easy, and also, it is very easy - both simultaneously. Faith is the only capital by which we can make our journey towards the Infinite. Bhakti, devotion, has no beginning and no end (ahaituky apratihata). There is no beginning - it is there already. Before we came to know about it, it was there. It was there, it is there, it will be there. No one ca resist it - that bhakti, that faith, is irresistible. It is part of the eternal substance. Its very nature is eternity - none can oppose it. We only have to make contact and associate with it, and the wave will carry us towards our goal. And if we can have the company of the devotees, the journey becomes very easy and pleasant, whereas to go alone is very difficult.

In the progress of our contact with faith, when we come to take benefit from devotees and have faith in them, we are more safe and our progress is also tangible - it comes to reality. From a vague, abstract position, faith becomes deeper within us. We can then recognize many others with the same objective in life, and the journey becomes easier. It becomes conceivable. It comes into measurement. When we have faith in the real devotees, we can come into contact with such a tangible thing.

Thus, the position of the devotees is very important in our journey, especially in the middle stage. In the primary stage, not much importance is given to the devotees. With only a vague conception from the scriptures and with the help of previous accumulated merits (sukrti), the journey is begun. But gradually, the beginners find that to journey onwards in the infinite is not an easy thing: "We thought that with a little progress we could attain the desired end, but now we find that it is not so." When we come to consider the real position of devotion, of what is God - He is universal, He is the ultimate goal - we may gradually become disappointed. But if along the way we take help from the devotees of similar objective, we shall feel much relief by their company, even though the destination may be far away. The difficulties of the journey are more prominent in the second stage. In the primary stage, we are not very exclusive in our objective, and so, we do not experience much difficulty. Real difficulties begin when we enter into the journey exclusively, with no other objective than to engage our whole energy towards that high and elevated path. And if we actually achieve a touch of the highest stage, the maha-bhagavata stage, the journey again becomes easier. But the middle portion is difficult, and at that stage the devotees are very important to save us. This is the period of both tangible acquisition and difficulty; our failings on the path to realization are to be rectified in this middle stage.

The association of devotees is of ultimate importance

When we enter into war, in the beginning we have much hope. We feel confident. But the real test is when the fighting begins. And when we finally conquer, we again become very satisfied. But the middle - when the war is being conducted - that is the difficult period. At that time, our co-workers, our comrades who fight along-side us, are very, very important to us. "I am not alone, but there are many others battling alongside me in that middle fighting period of war.“ Those companions are important. Some may disappear from the field but there will be others to encourage me.

Similarly, on this journey, we may see that many stalwarts are falling. It may discourage us to see such respected persons -going away - falling in the middle path. Nonetheless, in the midst of those unfavorable circumstances there are others who are bravely making progress with unflinching faith, and they will help us. To stick it out to the end is difficult - but important and valuable. The test comes and shows how much faith we have. Nothing comes in vain, and we must take everything that happens in that way.

There may be so many stalwarts, like Bhisma and Drona, who fall flat in the battlefield, but still we must go on (karmany evadhikaras te, ma phalesu kadacana, Bg. 2.47). We are out to fight to the end. We must achieve our end of life, and we can imbibe such firmness from the character of the devotees. The sastra will also offer helpful advice, but the association of the devotees is nonetheless of ultimate importance.

The Success of Faith
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

sakala chadiya bhai sraddhadevi guna gai
yanra krpa bhakti dite pare

"Giving up everything, let us sing in praise of Sraddha-devi - faith - whose grace can take us to Krsna."
(Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)

Sraddha, faith, is the most subtle thing, and it is also the most tangible. It is not imaginary. We must realize that it is reality, it is concrete, and not merely an abstract sentiment of mere individual consciousness. Faith is universal as the most fundamental element that can connect us with the finest objective.

Through electricity or radio we can establish communication over a long distance. The science is very subtle, and not known to anyone and everyone, yet, we cannot deny its existence; it has its tangible position. But faith is much more subtle, and through it one can establish both higher contact and reciprocation. Subtle faith is not approachable by anyone and everyone; it has its tangible existence and it may function in any circumstance if we have its peculiar contact. We cannot give false statements that we possess it; our power and grandeur are not necessarily any proof of its presence in us. Despite great pomp and show, all we personify may be falsehood. We should be very cautious to maintain our contact with genuine faith.

Of course, sincerity is the main requirement for faith's connection. No price, however valuable in this world, can purchase it. The qualification is laulyam - our sincere and earnest desire for the thing. No one can purchase the Absolute, and no price can purchase Him. The absolute necessity is our sincere desire and earnestness. With insincerity, we cannot make trade with Him; He is not so foolish as to become an object of trade for anybody! Sincere desire for Him is required, and that will awaken the conception to serve Him. We want Him, sincerely - through affection. We love Him, so we desire Him. And to love means to sacrifice for the object of our love.

Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhu has given a beautiful definition of the word 'Bhagavan': bhajaniya sarva-sad-guna-visista - "The Supreme Lord, Bhagavan is of such a nature that everyone who comes in contact with Him will want to serve Him and to sacrifice themselves for His satisfaction." This is the result of faith in its developed form. He is so noble, we shall think that if we die to satisfy Him, our life's objective will be fulfilled. His noble quality is such that it draws so much sacrificing spirit for Him; it draws everything towards Him. "Die to live." Faith is such.

We are in the ocean of faith, and the devotees are the essential agents. Each helps the other. We are much relieved from the fatigue and trials of a long journey if we have a companion or the association of a group. Similarly, in this ocean, if we obtain the help of devotees of similar nature to ours, that will be most conducive. Even our Guru Maharaja, in a speech he delivered on Vyasa- puja, his Holy Appearance Day, addressed his disciples, "Vipada uddharana bandhu-gana: Oh my friends, who can give me relief from danger."

"To me, you are my deliverers from danger! In the ocean of faith, it is very difficult to journey onward alone, so you have come to help me in my dangerous, ambitious journey in the infinite. You have come, and you are engaging me in talking about only Him, and so, you have given me some engagement. Otherwise, to live and move alone in the infinite is very difficult, troublesome and dangerous. You have all come to hear something, and in this exchange of talks about Him the situation has been made very safe and easy to journey so far toward Vaikuntha."

Mental Restlessness
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

Laulya means weakness of the heart, or weakness of our promise, towards the object of our life. Whatever I find, I engage myself in that. Everything is attracting my attention. We are busy with small petty things that are drawing our attention, and we avoid the real problems of life. We are busy with irrelevant things:

mandasya manda-prajnasya
vayo mandayusas ca vai
nidraya hriyate naktam
diva ca vyartha-karmabhih

Lazy people with little intelligence and a short lifespan pass their nights sleeping and their day performing useless activities. (Bhag. 1.16.9)

We find hundreds of things and if anything and everything comes to capture my attention – that is laulya. We must save ourselves from that nature. There is no end to engaging our senses. All the senses are busily engaged. There are a thousand engagements and mostly those engagements are those that do not know the real necessity of the self. One who does not know his home, travels in a foreign land satisfying his curiosity by working endlessly. That is to be found in the world.Apasyatam atma-tattvam – this is important. One who has a normal understanding accepts this, not the majority of abnormal thinkers. It is srota-panthathe revealed truth. That must come from the perfect realm, from God Himself. Here is established the indispensable necessity of srota-pantha, the method of revelation. It must come from the perfect realm, from sarvajna, the quarter of omniscience. In those that are unconscious of their own real interest we find thousands of engagements. They are very busy, but very busy about nothing.

srotavyadini rajendra
nrnam santi sahasrasah
apasyatam atma-tattvam
grhesu grha-medhinam

(Sukadeva Gosvami tells to king Pariksit) O emperor, those materialistic householders who are bound to their mundane possessions are blind to the knowledge of the self. They are busily engaged in hearing hundreds of thousands of topics within human society. (Bhag. 2.1.2)

nidraya hriyate naktam
vyavayena ca va vayah
diva carthehaya rajan
kutumba-bharanena va

Such people spend their nights engaged in sleep or in sex, while their days are spent collecting money or maintaining their families. (Bhag. 2.1.3)

What do we see if we look around? Two things – nidraya, sleep, or vyavayena, playing with women. Night passes in these two ways. In the daytime, they are in search of money or serving their near relatives. We tend to associate with those that we can exploit, those that supply our sense pleasure. We are surrounded by them.

atma-sanyesu asatsv api
tesam pramatto nidhanam
pasyann api na pasyati

The material body, wife, children and everything in relation to them are like fallible soldiers and those that are overly attached to them, despite their experience, do not see their own imminent destruction. (Bhag. 2.1.4)

We are fully engrossed in the interests of family life for our own sense pleasure. We are so engaged in that sort of false duty that we do not have the leisure to see that our own death is drawing nearer to us. Seeing, but also not seeing. It is a plain thing. I see that everyone is going into the jaws of death, but still I cannot see. I don’t care to see. This is the peculiar position we hold now. The final danger is approaching and I am sleeping through that. I don’t care to take notice of that. What can be stranger than this? Only our particular attention is necessary for the solution. Only a moment is enough. So many trees and mountains and hills are living for years and years, age after age – no benefit. It is not a question of longevity or a question of time. What is necessary is that I turn my attention towards my own self – What am I? Our attention should be drawn to our own real interest.

The Cure for Madness
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

Ignorance is not accidental, it is earned by our previous action – man is the architect of his own fortune. The bad weather I am meeting with at present has been earned by myself. Don’t complain against the environment. Utilise it as best you can and try to see the Grace of the Absolute therein. The anomaly I am facing at this present time is the product of my own action, no-one else is to blame. Not only is that true; but from another viewpoint it can also be seen that the Grace of the Lord is always present everywhere – eager to help me – coming in the guise of an apparently unfavourable environment according to the vision of my present experience. That is the necessary medicine for my disease, the medicine to cure my madness. It is like medicine dispensed by the Lord. He is everywhere with His sympathetic hand extended to us in the circumstances of most intense danger. To have this attitude is to have the key, the solution that solves our unfavourable circumstances, our unfavourable position.

The Lord is not vindictive, He does not want to punish us. Punishment has come only to teach us. The punishment is there but coming from the affectionate hand to teach us, to improve us, to help us. We have to see all dangers like that.

So set yourself right – not others – and real peace you will find. And never try to enjoy the result of your actions. This is the key to a successful life, and happiness will flow from that. You will find the Infinite is your Friend.

Everything is a part and parcel of the Original, therefore God is manifested in everything. And it is not that we can sacrifice or negate everything and only God remains, otherwise why we are here? Our individuality and existence is real. So both sides must have some recognition. Harmony between them is truth proper. This is the conception of Mahaprabhu. There is polarity and also there is unity and harmony, and that is all-important. Dislocation is unhealthy. Proper adjustment is necessary. Maya (misconception) means dislocation. Provincial, local interests are clashing with each other as well as with the Absolute. But proper adjustment comes through achieving understanding of the Absolute. Such understanding brings true harmony. All these things should be discussed and understood.

The Death Blow to Imitators
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

A bona-fide student will avoid all kinds of imitation – Sahajiyaism. We have to cross Bhu, Bhuvah, Mahar, Jana, Tapa, Viraja, Brahmaloka, and Vaikuntha to Goloka, step by step. The Sahajiyas take spiritual advancement very cheaply; they are not prepared to pay the real price. But the death blow to them is – upajiya bade lata ‘brahmanada’ bhedi’ yaya, ‘viraja,’ brahmaloka, ‘bhedi’ ‘paravyoma’ paya – it is necessary for one’s devotion to cross these many planes, as the creeper of bhakti grows and rises up to Goloka. But the pseudo-devotees do not care to know what is Paravyoma, what is Brahmaloka, what is Viraja, what is the brahmanda. Without caring to know about these things, they approach any guru, receive some mantra, and go on meditating. But if one meditates upon radha-govinda-lila in such an ignorant state, instead of entering radha-govinda-lila one will become entangled with the ladies and gentlemen of this world. One will become entangled in the domain of lust and will have to go to hell instead of going up to Goloka. Anuraga, our affinity for the Supreme Personality is not a very cheap thing. We have to understand who Krsna really is. Those without dedication should not deceive themselves into thinking they can find Him in the area of the material zone. Madhvacharya gave one hundred points against Mayavadism and its so-called renunciation, and our Guru Maharaj gave Prakrta-rasa-sata-dusani – one hundred points against Sahajiyaism, to guard against imitating krsna-bhajan in material life. So many ways, at every step we have to make decisions to go this way or that. Every moment we are at the crossing, but on the whole our sincerity will guide us. Deception and illusion are there, but the grace of the Lord is also there in the background. He won’t allow these agents of deception to misguide us if we don’t associate with them.

(Encounters with Divinity)

Necessity of Vaidhi-bhakti
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

Srila Rupa Gosvami says that we must observe vaidhi-bhakti (regulative practice) for as long as we can’t get admission into the level of raga-bhakti (spontaneous affection).

Das Gosvami also says that we shall show reverence to raga-bhakti, but we shall try to live within vaidhi-bhakti, with its rules und regulations according to the sastra. But the arrogant do not care for this instruction of the followers of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

I have nothing against vaidhi-marga. Pujala raga-patha gaurava bhange – we are trying to follow the vaidhi and always look with our aim towards the raga-patha. Go on with vaidhi, but the goal is with raga-patha. That is our aim. Otherwise, why vaidhi?

Law is not everything. The law of your society should be accommodating to nurture divine sentiment, otherwise it is no law. Law should promote faith. Sastra’s jurisdiction is limited. It is meant only to promote love, and when love comes, it will be free – smooth. Harmonious working is possible only in the area of love. Srila Rupa Gosvami says that vaidhi-bhakti, devotion under the guidance of sastra, is helpful only to a certain extent. It will help the inner awakening of love and affection and then retire. Law will retire, giving room to the spontaneous flow of love. Law is necessary, especially in the lower stages, but it should make room for free movement in the relationship. Freedom is the highest thing. Free service is raga-marga, and that is service proper.

Vaidhi means to regulate oneself, but for what? Regulation is not itself the aim or object. But regulation means for something else. We want to regulate ourselves so that we may be free in that land and acquire the position of a free servitor. Regulation has its desired effect.

And what is that? We shall get that spontaneous service. Otherwise, there will be a master, a teacher with a whip to order, “Do this, do that!” We must reach a place where freely we shall do that thing with our intrinsic urge. It is the success of life, it is there.

There is one party in Vrndavan that does not admit the necessity for formal devotion. Many others you will find in Vrndavan also. This party claims they have a connection with the Gopal Bhatta sampradaya – this is Gaudiya Vaisnavism with a little deviation. They want to begin with raga- bhakti – anuraga eliminating vaidhi-bhakti.

This is worse than Sahajiyaism. Sahajiyaism formerly accepts everything, but they want easy entrance to do only what comes naturally without work, and they don’t admit the necessity for formal devotion (vaidhi-bhakti). They are lazy in their practice, preferring the enjoying mood to the serving mood, but service means sacrifice. So this atmosphere is dangerous and we should mark with all attention any theistic awakening and take care so that we may not go down again to the depths of nescience. Very carefully we shall try to collect our wealth.

(Encounters with Divinity)

Science of Devotion Proper
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Gosvami Maharaja

Real progress towards the Infinite gives the idea that, "I am nothing, I am in great danger." Progress towards the Infinite is like that. Thinking, "I have it, I am above," – this is a foolish feeling, a foolish statement. The very nature of advancement is that, "I am low, I am undone, I am the most helpless." The closer we are, the further away we will feel, whereas the further away we actually are from divinity, we may complacently feel we are close. As much as we come into the relativity of the Infinite, we cannot but conceive ourselves to be the lowest of the low. That is the criteria.

The very sign of real progress will show I am nothing, I am the most needy, the most wretched and the most helpless. The negative aspect must be improved to attract the positive. If one point of the negative will say, "I am positive", then immediately it will be rejected, you are under the false control of maya. Rather to think, "I am the meanest of the mean," that will attract the attention of the high. This is the science of devotion proper.

Mahaprabhu was in samadhi, falling in the sea, experiencing kurma-rupa in Jagannatha Puri, and coming back to His senses. Then He related a description of His experience in samadhi, all pertai- ning to this madhurya-rasa. In Caitanya-caritamrta He relates, when He is coming out of His swoon, "I went there, I saw all these things, but you have taken Me from there." Pujala raga-patha. We should be mindful of every step and automatically that will take us there. Don’t try to go too quickly. Try to keep back and it will forcibly take you there. Your acceptance will come from the higher quarter, not by your endeavour.

In His deep trance, He had experience of that vraja-lila, He expressed that. And these Sahajiyas are trying to imitate these things. They are imitating – by their imagination, by their mundane mind and with their imagination they think they are going to get a touch of that lila.

Even some ordinary mundane scholar said that this krsna-lila is aprakrta. We can trace it from the descriptions of the Caitanya-Caritamrta. Kaviraj Gosvami had described the lila of Krsna, even jala-keli (pastimes in the water) in such a way that we cannot take our lusty mind there. He has kept the purity of the lila with his description, and Krsna with the sakhis are going on with their play in the tank in the Yamuna. The transcendental characteristics have been maintained there. That nitya- lila, which Mahaprabhu experienced in His deep trance, has been given by Kaviraj Gosvami. It is not any mundane thing – we should be prepared for that experience. So much higher we have to reach for a slight experience of those higher pastimes. We must be ready to pay for that, and for that only our Gurumaharaj came.

(Encounters with Divinity)