The following is a transcription of a discourse delivered by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja in Los Angeles, USA on May 10, 2003

 

I am very happy that a great number of senior and sincere disciples of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja are coming to hear hari-kathā. We should hear about the real nature of bhakti – not the kind of hearing in which the subject matter goes in one ear and out the other, but truly following and getting genuine realization. Full bhakti is so high that finding one who has realized it is rare. We begin from the point of śraddhā, where the first and smallest fraction of bhakti manifests. We must know what is śraddhā, how it comes, and what its effects are. Keep this in your hearts and be determined to follow these teachings.

In ancient times there was a very beautiful and qualified young boy. He became attached to a prostitute, however, and because of that he gave up all his wealth and position and left his wife and children. What is the nature of prostitutes? They show affection artificially, and their only purpose is to make money, nothing else. They do not consider whether or not a person is qualified and beautiful. They do not want a relationship; they only want money.

After that young boy had given all his wealth to the prostitute and she saw that he was unable to give her anything more, she ordered him, “Do not come to me!” And she kicked him out. The boy thought, “Oh, what have I done?! I have made a great mistake.” He was deeply lamenting and his heart was broken; he wanted to commit suicide. He left the prostitute’s house as night was falling and entered a forest, and as he did so, it became very dark and began to rain heavily. He wanted to die, but to die is not so easy. He lost his resolve and sought shelter to pass the night. Deep within the jungle, he discovered an old, dilapidated temple in which he took refuge. He continued to lament and weep, wishing to give up that prostitute, but images of her came to his mind again and again.

What became of that prostitute? After that young boy left she remembered, “He was so beautiful, and he loved me from his heart.” Repenting, she thought, “Oh, I have made a mistake; I should not have kicked him out. I should go and satisfy him and bring him back.”

She asked many people which way the boy had gone. She followed him into that dark forest and entered the same temple, seeking protection from the heavy rains. It was so dark that she could not see, and she took shelter in another area of the temple. She repented and wept for that boy throughout the night, and he was weeping for her. The next morning the two met in the temple. They began to weep, they apologized to each other, and they returned to the prostitute’s house.

Fortunately, that previous day was the appearance day of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva, and that old temple was Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva’s temple. The couple was fasting and not criticizing anyone only weeping, weeping, and weeping. They spent the night without sleeping or eating in the temple of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva. This is ajñāta-sukṛti (spiritual pious activity performed without the performer’s knowledge). What was the power of his ajñāta-sukṛti? That boy became Prahlāda Mahārāja in his next life.

How did this ajñāta-sukṛti occur? Why did the boy go to the temple of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva on the day of His appearance? Why did the prostitute follow him and why did they meet there? This was the mercy of Kṛṣṇa no doubt at all. We sometimes call such incidents accidents, but what was that accident? There was some mercy of Kṛṣṇa. We are part and parcel and eternal servants of Kṛṣṇa by constitution. Our constitutional form is to serve Him, but being taṭasthā-śakti (Kṛṣṇa’s marginal potency) and having come from the marginal line (the area between the spiritual and material world), this service has not manifested yet.

You should know that there are many kinds of jīvas. Some are coming from Baladeva Prabhu in Goloka Vṛndāvana, and they are serving Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa conjugal eternally. They have not seen or realized this material world. Some jīvas are coming from Baladeva in Dvārakā, and they are serving Kṛṣṇa in His form of Dvārakādhīśa. Some are coming from His manifestation called Mahā-saṅkarṣaṇa, and they are serving in Vaikuṇṭha. They are serving incarnations like Vaikuṇṭheśvara Nārāyaṇa, Śrī Rāmacandra, Nṛsiṁhadeva and others. Finally, those who are coming from the incarnation of Mahā-saṅkarṣaṇa, known as Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, are in the marginal (taṭasthā) region.

We have all come from there, not from Goloka. Those who have received and tasted the service of Kṛṣṇa can never fall down. They cannot become conditioned souls. If one has gone there by developing bhakti from śraddhā all the way to prema, how can he fall down? There is no Mahamāyā in Goloka; only Yogamāyā. She will always help the devotees, and therefore there is no question of forgetting Kṛṣṇa there.

The conditioned souls have come from the marginal line from the illuminated glance of Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. The realized souls coming from Baladeva Prabhu, the kāya-vyūha (bodily expansions) of Rādhikā, and also the conditioned souls are all parts and parcels of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa has so much unconditional love and causeless mercy towards all living entities. He cannot tolerate seeing us suffering the miseries of ādhyātmika (bodily or mental), ādhibhautika (caused by others) and ādhidaivika (caused by nature and the demigods). Even if you are wealthy, healthy, possessed of all good qualities and have a very high position, you’ll have to become old one day. All you beautiful ladies and men will be forced to grow old, and one day you will have to die. You cannot take a single farthing from this world; not even a hair from your head. The only thing you may take with you is some sukṛti or pure bhakti; otherwise, you leave with nothing.

Undoubtedly, Kṛṣṇa is causelessly merciful. He cannot tolerate the suffering of His minute parts, the jīvas, who are His eternal servants. If we worldly people don’t want our children to suffer, then how can Kṛṣṇa tolerate the suffering of the jīvas? He mercifully descends Himself, and sometimes He comes as His incarnations like Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Kalki, Vāmana, and so on. Jesus Christ is also a messenger of God.

Sometimes Kṛṣṇa comes Himself with all His associates. He displays poignant and heart-breaking pastimes as Rāma, and sometimes He manifests the pastimes of Nṛsiṁha Bhagavān, who, in a moment, killed a person who had a boon not to die in the day or night, by any weapon or any mantra, or in the sea, sky or land. He was killed in a moment because he tried to torture a bhakta like Prahlāda. If anyone commits an offence or acts neglectfully to the Vaiṣṇavas, Kṛṣṇa will come in some way. Sometimes He sends His Sudarśana-cakra as He did to protect Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, sometimes He appears as Nṛsiṁhadeva and sometimes as Śrī Rāma.

Who is Śrī Rāma? He is Kṛṣṇa Himself. What was he doing? He was bitterly weeping for Sītā, “Oh Sītā, Oh Sītā,” and he became mad. This is such a heart-rending pastime that everyone weeps simply by hearing it. When Svayam Bhagavān appeared in his original form as Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Nanda-nandana, Vrajendra-nandana, He performed miraculous pastimes that even Rāma and Śrī Nṛsiṁha could not do. He called everyone with His flute-playing. He also called the conditioned souls, but they could not hear. Even Kṛṣṇa’s cowherd friends could not hear. Who was able to hear that flute song? Only the gopīs heard it. He is calling us all. He is sending messengers like Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja to the Western countries, telling him, “Oh, go and call them. They should come to Vṛndāvana and meet Me there. If they cannot come, I will create Vṛndāvana within their minds and hearts.” How merciful He is. That is why He made some rules and regulations so that if we can follow or even a little, we will easily become His associates and dance with Him.

Kṛṣṇa appeared in the jail of Kaṁsa, and then He quickly left that place, went to Vraja, and then became the son of Nanda and Yaśodā. During His first ten years, He performed all His Vraja pastimes, and after that, He went to Mathurā, killed Kaṁsa and all his associates, went to Dvārakā, and later enacted the Mahābhārata war. In these pastimes, many demons were killed, and the sādhus were saved, and if anyone hears all these pastimes or even one of them, Kṛṣṇa may touch his heart, and he will gradually attain śraddhā. Without the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, there can be no śraddhā – nothing is there.

I explained how Prahlāda, in his past life, through sukṛti and the special mercy of Kṛṣṇa, was unknowingly led to the temple of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva. This pastime was exhibited to show the power of śraddhā to the people in general. We know that Prahlāda is an eternal associate of Bhagavān Śrī Nṛsiṁhadeva. He cannot fall under the influence of the external energy, and he has no need of sukṛti. It was his partial manifestation who performed this pastime.

We see that Droṇa and Dharā performed great austerities. Lord Brahmā gave them the boon that the Supreme Lord would appear as their son, and they would have love for Him in a parental mood. This boon was given only by the mercy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and thus He took birth in Gokula. In śāstra it has been said that Droṇa became Nanda Bābā and Dharā became Yaśodā Maiyā. If we very deeply examine the mood of the śāstras and the explanations of our ācāryas, however, we will see that Nanda Bābā and Yaśodā are the eternal father and mother of Kṛṣṇa with no beginning and no end. Droṇa and Dharā were Vasu Gandharvas who performed worship desiring that parental mood. Subsequently, they took birth in Vṛndāvana and merged into Nanda Bābā and Yaśodā Maiyā. Later when that līlā was finished in this world, Droṇa and Dharā became the neighbors of Nanda Bābā and Yaśodā in Goloka Vṛndāvana, with the mood of vātsalya-prema for Kṛṣṇa. Nanda Bābā is not only in one form. As Kṛṣṇa appears in all the universes, engaging in unlimited pastimes with all His associates, Nanda Mahārāja appears along with Him. These topics are very confidential.

The root of all śraddhā, gained knowingly or unknowingly, is the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. This mercy comes in two ways, either by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa or by the mercy of guru. We see that Nārada Ṛṣi, by his special causeless mercy, is much more merciful than Kṛṣṇa Himself. Kṛṣṇa has given him this mood by telling him, “Go and help them.” Who is Nārada? Nārada is Guru, and Guru is the essence of the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, the embodiment of Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.

saṁsāra-dāvānala-līḍha-loka
trāṇāya kāruṇya-ghanāghanatvam
prāptasya kalyāṇa-guṇārṇavasya
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam

(Śrī Gurvāṣṭakam, verse 1)

[Just as a rain cloud extinguishes a blazing forest fire by showering its rain upon it, śrī gurudeva, by his rain of divine mercy, delivers the people burning in the forest fire of material existence, suffering the threefold miseries ādhyātmika, ādhibhautika and ādhidaivika. I offer prayers unto the lotus feet of śrī gurudeva, who manifests when Kṛṣṇa’s mercy becomes thick and who is an ocean of auspicious qualities.]

The embodiment of Kṛṣṇa’s mercy is Śrī Gurudeva. The root of Śrī Gurudeva is Baladeva Prabhu, and Nārada is an incarnation of Baladeva Prabhu. The complete mercy of Baladeva Prabhu has become a form, and that form is called Nārada, the root of our entire guru-paramparā. Kṛṣṇa ordered Nārada, “Go. You can go without an invitation to this world, to Svarga, to Brahmaloka and Śiva-loka, and also to Vaikuṇṭha, Ayodhyā, Dvārakā and Mathurā. You can go everywhere. It is My boon that you will have millions and millions of forms so that you can preach everywhere and millions of tongues to do kīrtana.”

nārada muni, bājāya vīṇā, ‘rādhikā-ramaṇa’ name
nāma amani, udita hoya, bhakata-gīta-sāme

(Nārada Muni, verse 1)

[The supremely rasika Nārada Muni plays his vīṇā, singing the names of Śrī Rādhikā-Ramaṇa. Hearing this kīrtana, Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Rādhikā-Ramaṇa Themselves immediately descend, dancing and tasting the bhāva of Their own devotees.]

You should try to remember all that was explained about śraddhā, especially transcendental śraddhā, and particularly lobhamayīśraddhā.* You can also write it down to fix your remembrance. That high class of transcendental lobhamayīśraddhā depends on the mercy of Kṛṣṇa and His associates. Moreover, Kṛṣṇa’s mercy is dependent upon the mercy of His devotees. Kṛṣṇa will not hear your entreaties or your prayers. However, if you satisfy a Guru like Nārada or my Gurudeva, they will tell Kṛṣṇa, “Please be merciful upon this person.” I know this; I satisfied my Gurudeva.

Kṛṣṇa is here; He is everywhere, so why does He not see us? It is because He is always engaged in Vṛndāvana’s sweet pastimes and forgets everything.

ṣaḓ-aṅga śaraṇāgati hôibe ĵā̃hāra
tā̃hāra prārthanā śune śrī nanda-kumāra

(Ṣaḓ-aṅga-śaraṇāgati, the six limbs of surrender, verse 5, by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura)

[The prayers of one who submits unconditionally to this sixfold surrender are heard by Śrī Nanda-kumāra.]

Nārada will say, “I have cursed Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva. Kṛṣṇa should always remember this and uphold my word.” Brahmā will remind Kṛṣṇa, “I have given a boon to Hiraṇyakaśipu and others. Please keep my promise.” Brahmā also made a request to Hanumān. “Please keep my oath; I have given a boon to Indrajīta that he can bind anyone with the nāga-pāśa (snake rope).” He bound Hanumān with that nāga-pāśa, but Brahmā had also given Hanumān a boon that no one could bind him. In order to allow Brahmā’s boon to Indrajīta to stand, Hanumān mercifully allowed himself to be bound by Indrajīta and then later easily escaped.

Although Kṛṣṇa is merciful, his devotees like Nārada and Prahlāda Mahārāja are even more merciful. Nṛsiṁhadeva wanted to give many boons to Prahlāda Mahārāja. He said, “Any benediction you like, you may have.” Prahlāda replied, “I wish not to be given any boon. This is my request.” Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva said, “You must ask for something.” Prahlāda thought, “What should I do?” and then he replied, “Please liberate my father even though he has offended both You and me.” The Lord answered, “This has been done already. You should ask for anything else. My darśana should not go in vain.” Then Prahlāda said, “I want to take all the miseries of the world. I want to be merciful to the conditioned souls and take their suffering so that they may be liberated and engaged in Your service.”

How magnanimous Prahlāda is! By his mercy so many demons and their children became bhaktas.

When mercy is bestowed by a special kind of realized rasika and bhāvuka Vaiṣṇava, one can receive lobhamayīśraddhā. If anyone hears Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, he must be delivered. He will receive lobhamayīśraddhā.

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has said “ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu-saṅga” There are so many kinds of sādhu-saṅga. Sādhu-saṅga will come first, and from this, sukṛti will come. Otherwise, sukṛti cannot come. Although they don’t need anything, sādhus will go to your door and beg, “Oh, can you give me a glass of water?” Why? It is said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:

mahad-vicalanaṁ nṝṇāṁ
gṛhiṇāṁ dīna-cetasām
niḥśreyasāya bhagavan
kalpate nānyathā kvacit

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.8.4)

[O my lord, O great devotee, persons like you move from one place to another not for their own interests but for the sake of poor-hearted gṛhasthas [householders]. Otherwise they have no interest in going from one place to another.]

It was explained earlier that śraddhā can only come by the causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa and Vaiṣṇavas, especially Vaiṣṇavas. What did Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī mean when he wrote “ādau śraddhā?” In the beginning, there must be sādhu-saṅga. Without this, the tendency to serve Kṛṣṇa cannot come into the heart. Those who are serving Guru can discover what happiness comes by serving Kṛṣṇa. Our transcendental form will be realized and we will be engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service. Those who are realized, like Nārada and others, can preach very boldly and strongly to anybody.

Śraddhā, the seed of bhakti, is the tendency to serve Kṛṣṇa. If we think that we have śraddhā in our hearts, but we have no tendency to serve Kṛṣṇa and His devotees, then we actually have no śraddhā. Sādhu-saṅga gives us hari-kathā so abundantly and sweetly. We hear from sādhus that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord with all kinds of power, yet He was bound by the ropes of mother Yaśodā. That rope was not an ordinary rope, but a rope made of sneha, transcendental love and affection. Hearing all these pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, from beginning to end, a tendency may come: “I should serve Kṛṣṇa like His friends Śrīdama and Subala,” or “I should serve Kṛṣṇa like mother Yaśodā and Nanda Bābā,” or “I want to serve conjugal Kṛṣṇa and Rādhikā in the mood of the gopīs.” A specific tendency will come. When will it come? After serving for some time with real śraddhā, as defined in the words of Kṛṣṇa, in the words of scriptures and in the words of Gurudeva, a specific service mood will manifest in our hearts. Śraddhā is the beginning, and it will develop only by sādhu-saṅga.

Without sādhu-saṅga (association with pure devotees) you cannot progress. You are chanting and remembering in your houses and in your apartments, but are you not realizing something more here? Are you inspired or sleeping here? Have you come for wealth? No? This is good. The devotees and I have called you, and that call has been answered by devotees who have come from Los Angeles, England, Brazil, Germany, France, Australia, Canada and Hawaii, and Kṛṣṇadāsa (Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja’s servant and kīrtana leader) is here from India.

We have called you only to give you the tendency to serve Kṛṣṇa but the service of Kṛṣṇa alone will not suffice. You must serve all His associates. The Vraja gopīs are the highest, and of all the Vraja gopīs, Śrīmatī Rādhikā is the highest. The service of Śrīmatī Rādhikā is inspiring you. If even one of you is inspired, I will think that I am successful in my mission.

Gaura-premānande.

* Pāramārthika-śraddhā (transcendental faith) is of two kinds: 1) śāstrārtha-avadhāraṇamayī-śraddhā – faith which brings about engagement in the path of bhakti inspired by the governing principles of scripture, and 2) bhāgavata-līlā-mādhuryalobhamayīśraddhā – faith which brings about engagement in bhakti due to lobha or intense longing, arisen out of some extremely good fortune by hearing the līlā-mādhurya of Bhagavān.

Source: Purebhakti.com

Image(s) made possible by Pixabay.com, Krishnapath.org and/or Bhaktiart.net
Unless indicated differently, all verse translations and quotes are from the books by Śrīla Prabhupāda (Vedabase.com)

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