Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I requested you all earlier to think over this question, and try to give an appropriate answer. Try to hear this question and then you can properly answer it. I think it is an important question. Some are losing their faith. What is the actual question?
Devotee: If Śrīla Prabhupāda is a perfected soul, an associate of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he can see past, present and future. He went to visit the gurukula, which was perhaps in Dallas at the time, and there were many bad things being done. There were teachers who were unqualified, and they were abusing the children. Just before Prabhupāda would go to visit, the children were instructed to behave in a certain way―otherwise they would be punished. So they never said anything, and they made an external show that everything was going on nicely. Therefore Prabhupāda said, “This is a very good school. We should send all our children to this school.” This may raise some doubts that he is a perfected soul and can see everything.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Besides that, he gave renounced order, sannyāsa, to so many; and about 90% have fallen down. The doubt is whether he knew this fact or not. If he was sarvajña, all-knowing, he should have known at that time. Why would he have given renounced order to bogus persons who would later on leave? Why? If he was sarvajña, he should first know a person’s quality, and then give sannyāsa. Do you realize this fact―that he was a śaktaveṣa avatāra?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Do you have the experience that he was? Do you know that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Have you realized anything? Are you speaking from your heart?
Devotee: I’m a fool, I have no realization at all, but…
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It is very hard. You can actually believe in someone if realization comes. Then you will be liberated and then you will have faith.
Vrajanātha prabhu: The problem of the conditioned soul is that he cannot understand the activities of a liberated Vaiṣṇava ācārya. He will therefore have to simply accept―and this is very difficult in this situation. Many mothers and fathers of children in a particular gurukula are still suffering today because of the enormous feelings, the hurts, and the unbelievable abuse they experienced; and they cannot explain this in a logical way. We need a deeper answer. The conditioned soul has four imperfections. He is in illusion, he has the tendency to commit mistakes, he cheats, and he has imperfect senses. Because of those inadequacies it is not possible to understand the activities or the words of the empowered ācārya.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It is true. Now you can tell your answer.
Devotee: From a broader point of view we can raise the same question about the activities of Kṛṣṇa and His various manifestations. For example, Kṛṣṇa is Himself the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He has love for every living entity. He wants them to be established in their eternal loving relationship with Him. So why did He order Śaṅkara to preach Māyāvāda philosophy and establish his own conclusions, which were opposed to the Vedic conclusions and which turn people away from bhakti? Even today the influence of that philosophy is going on. People are still attracted to or misled by these ideas. Kṛṣṇa also appears as Lord Buddha, and people are thus misled to accept the path of voidism.
Also, when Kṛṣṇa personally appeared with His confidential associates such as the Pāṇḍavas, they were put into so many tribulations. One could easily ask: How could Kṛṣṇa allow such a thing to go on? Not only was He allowing it to go on; He was orchestrating it. The Pāṇḍavas knew this fact very well, and in spite of this they never lost their faith in Him―not even slightly. They always had so much strong faith in Him, and conviction that there is some reason that the Lord was doing this. They knew He had some larger plan.
Similarly, if we want to examine the activities of pure devotees―why they behave in different ways―then we also have to consider this greater question. And, in order to understand, we cannot see it in terms of an act that takes place in one moment of time. We have to see it in terms of a continuum; or in terms of a greater vision that he has; or a greater plan which will unfold in course of time.
Regarding the sufferings of the Pāṇḍavas, one could easily question why Kṛṣṇa was allowing it. Only in retrospect can we understand the Lord’s plan, and why things had to take place in a certain way. When the Lord performs one action, He accomplishes many, many activities through that. Similarly, when the Lord’s empowered representative performs any action, there are many levels on which he is operating.
Śrīpada Madhava Mahārāja: Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī says that Kṛṣṇa empowers His pure devotee with His own qualities. Kṛṣṇa has so many qualities, and one of His best qualities is that He empowers His pure devotees with sarvajñātā and mugdhatā: omniscience and bewilderment or lack of knowledge. What to speak of parama-pūjyapāda Svāmī Mahārāja, all of the eternal associates of Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, like Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī etc. they all have these two qualities simultaneously: sarvajñātā and mugdhatā. And what to speak of them, these two qualities are also simultaneously in the Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa Himself. On one hand He is all-knowing and on the other hand He is like a cowherd boy―sometimes bewildered and as though knowing nothing. In one of the Vedānta-sūtras it is stated that when any empowered ācārya comes to this world he performs what is called naravata-līlā. This means that he acts like a human being―otherwise the general mass would not be able to follow him. Although a perfect soul, he behaves like a human being. In this way anyone can follow him and profit from his advice.
Regarding gurukula, the children received good saṁskāras, that is, permanent impressions on the heart due to their association with a pure devotee. One day, maybe not in this lifetime, maybe in another lifetime, they will again come in contact with Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In Śrī Rūpa Śikṣā, Caitanya Mahāprabhu teaches Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī that if one commits Vaiṣṇava aparādha, his bhakti will be destroyed. However, if one is weak but not offensive, he will be able to revive his Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Syāmarāṇī: I have been thinking of this question for the past couple of days. By thinking about it my faith in Śrīla Prabhupāda actually increased instead of decreased. I am remembering Caitanya-caritāmṛta and Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu-bindu, wherein the larger picture is explained. Regarding the souls of the children who are in gurukula, they came from many, many millions of births of good activities to come to the point of being in gurukula and many millions of those births were also engaged in sinful activities. Because in their past lives they had performed so many spiritually pious activities, like visiting temples or going to Vṛndāvana, meeting pure devotees, and so forth, they came in contact with Śrīla Prabhupāda and gurukula. Prabhupāda sometimes came to visit them, they saw the Deity, took Kṛṣṇa prasādam, heard the Holy Name, and came in contact with Prabhupāda’s books.
But Śrīla Prabhupāda is not the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Like all pure devotees he follows the flow of Bhakti-devī. Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and He controls the material nature. When our body is changed into a spiritual body by pure bhajana, then it is no longer affected by our past karma and the laws of nature. Karmāṇi nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhājāṁ. However, as long as the material nature is still working, we are affected.
Śrīla Prabhupāda has said that if we cut our finger we should think that our whole arm should have been amputated. Instead, because we came in contact with a great soul, because we accepted a bona fide spiritual master, we are only getting a summary punishment of the law of karma. Prabhupāda gave the example of a rich man’s son who knew the judge. The rich man’s son did an abominable illegal act. Because he did that, he could have been fined $100,000. But he was a rich man’s son, and the rich man was a friend of the judge. The judge had to fine him something, but he said, “Because your father is my friend, I am only charging you one cent.” Similarly, when one comes in contact with the bona fide guru, even if he is not fully pure, he gets only a summary punishment of the law of karma.
We may consider what is happening, not only on this planet, but in millions of universes―how the living entity is wandering through so many species, how some living entities become meat to be eaten by others, how some people become lampshades in World War II by the work of Hitler, how some so-called innocent people melted due to radiation in the Hiroshima battle, and how they all have to go on like that for many millions of births. One of the children in gurukula was put in a garbage can overnight by a foolish gurukula teacher and, although that little child was screaming all night, the teacher would not let him out. Of course this was terrible, but perhaps that child was supposed to have suffered many millions of births in wombs that he could not come out of. In other words, suppose that child had performed an abortion in a past life. Prabhupāda said that those who do such a terrible act will not see the light of day for thousands of lives, because they will also be aborted again and again.
So the children were getting only a summary of the punishment they deserved―because they had come in contact with a pure devotee. By our good activities we attain the association of bhakti and bhakta, and by our past sinful or offensive activities we suffer.
Govinda Bhakata prabhu: It is said that the guru knows the heart of the disciple. Will Yogamāyā ever sometimes cover the heart of the disciple from the guru―if the disciple wants to cheat him?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No; this cannot be. You will have to understand how he is mugdha and sarvajña. If the two qualities are not there, then he cannot help the people of this world. That is why his nara-līlā (human-like pastimes) are going on. At the root of nara-līlā two things are there―mugdhatā and sarvajñātā.
Do you know that Kṛṣṇa is the perfect Supreme Personality of Godhead? There is no doubt about this because it is written in scriptures like Rāmāyaṇa, Mahābhārata, Vedas and Upaniṣads. Kṛṣṇa is without doubt the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He is also sarvajña. Why, then, could He not control His environment? He knew that the war of Mahābhārata will come. If He is sarvajña, He would have known that the Mahābhārata battle would take place. He could have warned the Pāṇḍavas not to gamble. Why did He not warn them? He could have thought, “I should tell the Pāṇḍavas,” ‘Oh! A big problem will come by this; so don’t play this game.’ He knew everything. If He had warned them, however, the Mahabharata battle would not have taken place, and Kṛṣṇa’s plan would not have been successful.
By this nara-līlā He played so many games, and He did so many good things for this world. Bhagavad-gītā became eternally manifest. He also gave a lesson to all people not to play dice. Kṛṣṇa knew that because of this dice game there would be an attempt to make Draupadī naked. Why did He permit this? We should consider all these things.
Kṛṣṇa knows what is true and what is false. Aśvatthāmā had not died, so why did Kṛṣṇa declare that he was dead? Kṛṣṇa requested Yudhiṣṭhira, “You should say that Aśvatthāmā is dead.” Was it true or false? Only a rare devotee can know that it was true. Ninety-nine per cent of the people will think that Kṛṣṇa was telling a falsehood, and such persons are not qualified to realize what Kṛṣṇa was telling. Actually it was true. Not only Aśvatthāmā―all were dead. Kṛṣṇa showed Arjuna that all were in the mouth of His universal form, crushed within His teeth―and they were dead. Bhīṣma pitāmaha was dead, and all others were dead. Kṛṣṇa and His devotes may do something that we consider improper, but actually His activities are always correct and proper.
A person will use one thorn to take out another thorn, a splinter, which is stuck in his foot. Then he will throw both of those thorns away. You should take this statement very seriously. You should know that Kṛṣṇa also did this. Similarly, when very powerful devotees come, then, even if some persons are not qualified for certain positions, still he gives them positions, and through them he preaches everywhere and accomplishes so many things. After that he ‘throws them out,’ and only devotees remain. Do you understand what I am telling you? There are thorns in our feet, and also thorns by which we take those thorns out. Both are ‘thorns,’ and neither are actually devotees; but the guru has to play a role with them in order to preach everywhere. Kṛṣṇa and Prabhupāda were successful in this. If those in the gurukula are not offensive they will get some good impressions, saṁskāras, in the heart―by sadhu-saṅga.
We see in Dvārakā that Sāmba and others were committing offences to Durvāsā, Nārada and the other sages who were assembled at Piṇḍāraka. Kṛṣṇa knew everything. Why did He not warn all the boys not to be offensive? There is something we cannot understand in all this. Similarly, Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja knowingly did something like this for the gain of the whole world―the whole universe. He has given kṛpā, mercy, to all.
Although some are not realizing this, still he will help them. If those who attended gurukulas, who performed bad activities in past lives, had not come in contact with Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja―and instead of going to gurukula they had gone to any other school―the same karmic reaction would have come to them because of their past impressions. In fact, much, much worse things would have happened to them, and they would not have had the good opportunity to associate with a pure devotee―to receive prasāda from his hand, to receive so much mercy from him, and to have the chance to take up devotional activities later on.
We should never have any doubt in Kṛṣṇa. During His manifest pastimes, Kaṁsa and Jarāsandha, and also Duryodhana and his party, had so many doubts about Him. They thought He had a bad character: “He was playing with gopīs, and even those gopīs who were married came to Him―dancing and singing alone in the night. Besides this, He told so many false things to His mother and others.” These demoniac persons demanded to know, “Why has He done this?” They criticized Kṛṣṇa because they had no devotion, and therefore they could not realize Him.
Just as Duryodhana and others could not understand Kṛṣṇa’s activities, many persons do not understand the activities of Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja, who preached all over the world and distributed the Holy Name. He extended himself to lakhs and lakhs of persons who were drunkards and hippies. They were always with ladies―always, always―and lakhs and lakhs were turned toward bhakti. We should know very clearly that those who misunderstand and find fault with his activities are not devotees. They were never devotees.
Kṛṣṇa can lift Govardhana and He can take the whole universe in His hand. He can eat poison and He can swallow fire―and He did this many times. He took so much poison when He was in Kāliyadaha, and then He played with the gopīs. If you want to criticize Him for playing with the gopīs, then you should also be able to swallow fire. First we will put some fire in your mouth, and then you should eat some poison. After that you should lift Girirāja Govardhana. Not Govardhana―only 500 pounds of anything. You should take 5,000 pounds on your head. Then you can play with any lady, and then I will say that you are okay.
Considering all these points we can understand that Prabhupāda did not do anything improper. He was sarvajña, and he wanted to do good for all. It was not the fault of Prabhupāda; it was the fault of their bad karma of past births and also this birth. We should realize this.
Rāmacandra knew everything. He was sarvajña. So why did He pursue a deer who was actually the demon Marīci? Apparently He was only thinking, “This deer is so beautiful.” Sītā devī requested Him, “O, bring this deer,” and He pursued it. Lakṣmaṇa told Rāma, “It is māyā”; “I know it.” “Brother, You should not go. Why are You going?” Rāma replied, “No harm. I should go. It will be good for all.” We certainly cannot say that Rāma did something wrong, or that He was forced to act in worldly situations. We may think that He was covered by māyā and He was doing everything under the shade of māyā, but actually māyā was not there. Similarly, we should not have any doubt in Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja or any pure devotee; or in Kṛṣṇa, in Rāma, or in anyone like Them. We should try to develop our Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and then we will realize all these things.
We should try to learn a lesson from this. We may think, Prabhupāda did this, and I will also do like him. Don’t do this; otherwise you will go to hell. You are not Prabhupāda. First be like Śaṅkara, and then swallow poison. Otherwise, if you are not Śiva and you are still taking poison, you will be finished at once―without a single moment’s delay. Do not think you can imitate your Prabhupāda. Be very careful. Don’t take all this weight upon yourself. These things are for pure devotees, powerful ācāryas, and Kṛṣṇa.
Devotee: Gurudeva, some devotees are a little fearful to send their children to gurukula.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If they are not doing well there, then you should not send them. Kṛṣṇa has given you some intelligence, so try to utilize it.
Devotee: Because Kṛṣṇa ordered him, Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira called out that Aśvatthāmā was dead. But I heard once in a narration, that Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja was actually referring to an elephant. He said, “Aśvatthāmā, the elephant, is dead.” But nobody could hear the words, the elephant. Is that story true?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes. It is true, but it is also false. What Kṛṣṇa told was true, and other things were all false. Yudhiṣṭhira was telling that Aśvatthāmā the elephant is dead, and Kṛṣṇa is telling that, you should say that Aśvatthāmā is dead. Kṛṣṇa’s words were true, and all others were false. Yudhiṣṭhira was false and Bhīma was also false.
Śyāmarāṇī dāsī: How is it true?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It was true because Aśvatthāmā was dead. Actually Kṛṣṇa made it like this. He had created the whole universe and he had created Aśvatthāmā. He had killed all, and it appeared as though all were killing.
Are you dead or are you alive? If you are thinking, “I am this body,” then you are dead. However, if you have the realization of your ātmā and are thinking that, “I am ātmā,” then you are not dead. All were thinking in that way: “I am this body, and Aśvatthāmā is his body, and he is alive.” But actually they themselves were all dead. Those who are alive think, “I am a soul. I do not take birth, nor do I die. I have no sorrow, and no problem at all.“
If you are realizing this, then there is nothing to preach, and no one to whom to preach. This is because you will think that all are serving Kṛṣṇa. Nārada thinks in this way, and also Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī. He will not tell anyone, “You should serve Kṛṣṇa.” He will never preach because he considers everyone is already somehow serving Kṛṣṇa in this way or that way. Anvaya and vyatireka, directly or indirectly, all are serving. We are also serving, but we have no realization. That is why we are conditioned souls. Our situation may be likened to a watch that is covered with a cloth. The clock is working; time is going on. However, although the clock is ticking, we see that nothing is there. Similarly, the ātmā is actually serving Kṛṣṇa always. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam tells that he has no bandha and no mokṣa, no bondage and no liberation. It is only kalpanā, imagination to think otherwise. Soul is soul. Because he is cid-vastu, of spiritual substance, he is serving Kṛṣṇa.
These are high-class of understandings. Although at this stage you cannot do so, you will have to realize all these true conceptions. We can realize little―very little―but it is a fact that all cetanās, living beings, are serving Kṛṣṇa.
Since we conditioned souls cannot understand our own spiritual nature, we surely cannot understand the sublime transcendental nature of the mahābhāgavata devotee. For example, Nārada went to Kaṁsa and said, “O my dear disciple, my dear son Kaṁsa; all the demigods are making plans to kill you. So beware. Be careful.” Kaṁsa replied, “O Gurudeva, you have saved me by telling me all these things. I will be very careful.” Nārada then went to Vāsudeva and said, “Oh, you should be careful. Kaṁsa can do anything to you.”
So Nārada is thinking that all are serving. If there was no Kaṁsa, Kṛṣṇa would have never come to this world and performed so many pastimes. Nārada knows everything. He is a mahābhāgavata, and therefore he does not come to preach that, “O, you should chant hari-nāma.” He knows that everyone is serving Kṛṣṇa. This is very esoteric, but this is the thing. We will have to realize this.
Devotee: You said that Nārada has no need to preach, because he sees everyone is already serving, but he preached to Mahārāja Prācīnabarhi.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It was for others. Actually he was playing a trick. He is more tricky than Kṛṣṇa because he is the disciple of Kṛṣṇa. We cannot know how tricky and highly qualified he is. He will go to the East and say that he is going to the West. For him, East and West are the same thing. This is also the answer to that question. Prabhupāda came as though he was in the stage of madhyama-adhikārī, as though he didn’t know anything; and on a few occasions he said to certain disciples, “I am not sarvajña.” Although he was preaching here and there, he is actually not a madhyama-adhikārī. He is more than that. A madhyama-adhikārī can do anything wrong, and it seems that he has done something wrong; but actually he has not. Everything that happened was okay, and it was for the gain of the whole universe.
Without hearing from a self-realized devotee it is not possible to understand the esoteric activities of Kṛṣṇa and His associates. The Pāṇḍavas were trying to bring Kṛṣṇa to Hastināpura. They were knowingly doing so many things to induce Him to come, and He came. Nārada therefore went there and greatly glorified them. He told them, Kṛṣṇa always lives with you and takes your services. He has so many relationships with you. He sometimes becomes your charioteer, and sometimes He becomes like your servant. He gives His own sister in marriage to Arjuna, and He sometimes follows the orders of Yudhiṣṭhira, Kunti and others. So you are the best devotees in the world.
How did the Pāṇḍavas reply? When they heard all this glorification they began to weep. They said, “Actually we are not pure devotees.”
Arjuna especially told Nārada, “The whole world thinks that Kṛṣṇa became my charioteer, He obeys my orders, and He also gave me unique teachings in the form of the Gītā―teachings which He had never given before. They think that lakhs and lakhs of births before, He gave these same instructions to the sun god, and since then He hadn’t spoken it to anyone else. But this is not true.” Arjuna continued, “Why did He become my charioteer? It was not for me. If He had not become my charioteer, the Mahābhārata battle would not have taken place and the demons would not have been destroyed. So Kṛṣṇa purposefully became my charioteer, and when I said that I was not going to fight, He instructed me.” He said, “O, I am here on your chariot, and Hanumān is also here. Why are you hesitant? I have already accomplished everything, and you will only have to be the instrument. Actually you have already conquered the other party, and My purpose is already served; but I want that you be My instrument.”
“Kṛṣṇa has accomplished so many things, and it wasn’t for me. It was for the whole world. It was for the demigods and for this earth―because the earth became a cow and went to Brahmā. Then, along with Brahmā, that cow went to Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, and there Brahmā entered into a trance. In the form of Viṣṇu, Kṛṣṇa thus agreed to their plea and said, “I am coming.” “It was not for me.
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ srjāmy aham
Kṛṣṇa has not come for me, nor for my family. He has come to establish truth, yuga-dharma, and to do so many other things. It is not true that He was my charioteer. I was not willing to fight. He therefore sat on my chariot and instructed and inspired me.”
It is stated:
pārtho vatsaḥ su-dhīr bhoktā
dugdhaṁ gītāmṛtaṁ mahat
This Gītopaniṣad, Bhagavad-gītā, the essence of all the Upanisads, is just like a cow, and Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is famous as a cowherd boy, is milking this cow. Arjuna is just like a calf, and learned scholars and pure devotees are to drink the nectarean milk of Bhagavad-gītā (Gītā-māhātmya 6).
Sarvopaniṣado gāvo means that all the Upaniṣads are like cows, and the teachings that Kṛṣṇa took from all those Upaniṣads are called Gītopaniṣad. It is the essence of all the Upaniṣads, and it is not only for calves.
The Gita was for the whole world. Arjuna is the calf here. We milk the cows and we take the milk of cows. The milk is not for their calves. The calves take only very little―to make the cows qualified to give milk. Similarly, Arjuna told Nārada that Bhagavad-gītā was not only for him.
Arjuna further expressed that what Kṛṣṇa had taught him on the battlefield was third-class teaching. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Kṛṣṇa Himself, and He told that it is external. Gītā is śaraṇāgati. Arjuna told Nārada, “I am a bosom friend of Kṛṣṇa. He gives these teachings to lower classes of persons, those who are not yet devotees. Śaraṇāgati is the doorway of bhakti. It is not bhakti, but the doorway. Those who follow śaraṇāgati will enter in the bhakti line; and then śraddhā, niṣṭhā, ruci, āsakti, bhāva, premā, and all other advanced stages of love will develop. Śaraṇāgati is not bhakti, and yet Kṛṣṇa told me, ‘You should offer everything―your heart, mind, body, and senses to Me.’ It is like an upahāsa, a ridicule for Me. Sakhās are situated on a very high level of devotion, but this śaraṇāgati is still external. If someone wants to be a devotee he will accept śaraṇāgati. It is like a doorway, an entrance by which we can enter into bhakti. Yet, Kṛṣṇa was teaching me that śaraṇāgati.”
Arjuna asked Nārada, “Do you think that I have no śaraṇāgati; that I am not the sakhā of Kṛṣṇa?” Nārada replied, “O yes, you have crossed over all these things. You have crossed over śaraṇāgati. You are already in the realm of bhakti. You are not a sādhaka jīva, and therefore, niṣṭhā, ruci, āsakti and bhāva are all in you. You are perfect. You have no defect and no anarthas―nothing. Moreover, your bhakti is not a mixture of jñāna, karma, yoga, and tapasyā. You are an ekāntika-bhakta.” Kṛṣṇa’s instructions in Bhagavad-gītā have been told for sādhakas, not for siddhas. Arjuna is not a sādhaka; he is a siddha. He has crossed over that level. After this comes śānta-rasa. Who are devotees in śānta-rasa? Sanaka, Sanātana, Sanat-kumāra and Sanandana. Arjuna has crossed so much beyond this. He’s not like Sanātana and so forth. They cannot even touch the dust of the lotus feet of Arjuna, Bhīma, Nakula, Sahadeva and Draupadī. The Pāṇḍavas are so high.
Also Hanumān. Hanumān can serve Rāma twenty-four hours a day, and he is liberated. But Arjuna, Bhīma, Nakula and Sahadeva are superior to Hanumān. Hanumān is also not able to touch the dust of their feet. So Arjuna is saying, “Kṛṣṇa is telling me to first take śaraṇāgati, and in this way He is ridiculing me.”
If anyone comes to advise me, “You should go and choose any good guru, serve him and offer everything to him. And you should chant at least sixteen rounds.” Is this proper, or not proper? Suppose I am chanting daily one lakh of Holy Names, I am always absorbed in bhakti, and hundreds and thousands of persons are inspired by me. Then someone comes and says, “Oh, if you cannot chant 16, then you can chant 8 rounds daily. And don’t take eggs, wine, fish, and so on. And you should not have any girlfriend.” If he tries to teach me in this way, is it ok? I will say, “Oh yes, yes, I will do that. I will follow you.” Similarly, Arjuna is saying, “Kṛṣṇa has taught me these things in the Gītā.” It is like this.
When Kṛṣṇa sent Uddhava, and later on Baladeva, to Vraja, He told them, You should ask the gopīs, “Why are you worried? I’m everywhere. I am in their bodies. A relevant example is that of the clay pot. The pot cannot exist without the clay. The very construction of the pot is completely made of clay; the clay permeates the entire pot.
If anyone takes the clay from the pot, will the pot still be there? Never. Similarly, I’m in their senses; I’m everywhere in them―outside, inside, upside, downside, here and there. I’m always everywhere. So tell the gopīs that I am always with them. Why are they worried? They should remember Me, chant My Names, and meditate on Me.”
Hearing this the gopīs said, “Oh, very good. You are like the sun, giving many good instructions to us. But by these instructions we are now getting so much heat―as the sun gives heat―and we are burning by Your lectures. We cannot properly follow your instructions because we are so fallen. Please give your lectures to the ṛṣis and maharṣis. We are so fallen. We cannot remember and we cannot meditate. That is why You are mercifully telling us to meditate. We also know that if one takes Your lotus feet in their hearts, all miseries will at once go, and he will be pure. But we are not like this. We are very fallen. Perhaps that is why You are teaching us to meditate and to chant and to remember―because we have never done this.
Actually You should know that we want to forget You, but we cannot. We want to forget you because You have forgotten us. We don’t want to think, ‘O, where is Kṛṣṇa? O, now He will be on the bank of the Yamunā.’ Even though You are not there, our feet are accustomed to going there. Still our feet go; we cannot stop them.
Our minds always remember You. Although yogīs make so much effort to remember You, so many bad worldly things come in their minds and hearts. We, on the other hand, want to forget You, but we cannot. We were with You from childhood, when You and we were naked―like friends. So please be merciful to us. The minds of worldly persons are different from their hearts, but our minds and hearts are the same.”
Our minds are now prominent, and our hearts are another thing. But the gopīs are saying, “Our mind and heart are the same.” What is the meaning? Our hearts are not Vṛndāvana, but the gopīs are telling us that their hearts are Vṛndāvana, and their minds and hearts are the same. In our body the mind is prominent. We think, “Oh, this is good, this is bad, this is this, this is that.” Because we have so many doubts and anarthas, we follow the mind. But bhakti is not in the mind. It is in the heart. Kṛṣṇa says we should give our hearts. Bhakti lives in the heart, and that heart cannot decide, “This is bad”, “Oh, Kṛṣṇa is bad, or Kṛṣṇa is better.” It can only be charmed by devotional services. The heart has nothing to do. It will give at once, and never take in return. This is the activity of the heart.
The gopīs said, “Our hearts are Vṛndāvana. You should come in our hearts as you do with yogīs, but our hearts are Vṛndāvana. If You come to Vṛndāvana, then You are coming to our hearts. So please do like this.
But we do not want to remember You, so why are You coming? Why are You always coming? We want to forget You, but we cannot.”
For whom should these teachings be? They are for a conditioned soul at a very low stage. First he should do śravaṇaṁ, then kīrtanaṁ, and then smaraṇaṁ. But the gopīs are above that. They have passed the stages of sneha, māna, praṇaya, rāga, anurāga, bhāva and mahābhāva. But Kṛṣṇa is teaching the gopīs something else. Then they say, “O, You want to cheat us,” or, “You must be joking with us. This teaching is not actually for us. You should teach this to Duryodhana, Kaṁsa and others like them―not to us.”
So we should try to realize all these things. This is our object and goal. Even if I explain this for a long time you will not be able to understand very much. You will have to come to a certain level to understand. Kṛṣṇa tells His mother, “Mother, I have not eaten clay or earth,” and He asked Yudhiṣṭhira to announce that Aśvatthāmā was killed. Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja considered that he was not killed, and he therefore thought, Why should I speak falsely? On the other hand, Arjuna accepted at once. In this case, therefore, Arjuna is superior.
So we should consider all these things. Don t look here and there to see what nonsense he or she is doing. Don’t involve your mind in these things. Always concentrate your mind and be one-pointed to Kṛṣṇa; otherwise you will be cheated. Try to take the path told by Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. First, obey the Bhagavad-gītā. We are not this body; you should actually realize this. Then, sarva-dharmān parityajya. Surrender to Kṛṣṇa. Then try to enter the bhakti realm, and then follow Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Follow the teachings of the first nine cantos and, if you are qualified, try to gradually enter into the tenth canto. Be like a mother, (vātsalya-rasa), be like a friend (sakhya-rasa), and after that you can read Tenth Canto, chapters 29-33. On one hand we should not try to jump, but we will also have to see that there is some greed to know all these things. If greed and śraddhā are there, then you are qualified to enter in the bhakti realm and hear Śrīmad Bhāgavatam Tenth Canto and all other books.
Try to develop in Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. Try to read the books of Prabhupāda; they are authentic. And you can also read my books. My books are actually not my books. They are of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, and Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī―like Manaḥ Śikṣā, Upadeśāmṛta, Śikṣāṣṭaka, and so on. Gradually try to develop.
How do traditional Gauḍīya Maṭhas manage situations with Sex offenders?
Devotee: What is the correct Vaiṣṇava approach towards people who have sexually molested minors? I know this is an unpleasant question but in the Vaiṣṇava communities we do face such situations sometimes. For example sometimes young people have been sexually molested in temples or temple schools. Some of them have later become molesters of others. Is there any possibility that a person who has done such a crime can be forgiven and be allowed to participate or maybe even live in Vaiṣṇava communities?
Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Mahārāja: Sex offenders should be given some chance to be able to change themselves and practice hari-bhajana. Śrīla Prabhupāda established Maṭhas for the benefit of fallen people, and he also compared the Maṭha to a hospital. He said the doctor tries, even until the last moment, to save the patient, so he doesn’t lose hope to do it. In the same way, Gurudeva also tries to save the person. But if there is no scope for any improvement in this sex offender [who has undertaken treatment], then it’s good to kick him. Also you can take him to court and ask for severe punishment. In general, devotees are told that they should avoid associating with such people. The renowned saint Totaram Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja said:
āula, bāula, kartābhajā, neḍā,daraveśa, sāṅī,
sahajiyā, sakhībhekī, smārta, jāti-gosāñī,
ativāḍī, cūḍādhārī, gaurāṅga-nāgarī
tota kahe ei tāra saṅga nāhi kori
Sincere aspirants should be careful to avoid this kind of association and never associate with such people.
―Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja
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