The following is an excerpt from Śrī Hari-kathāmṛta Volume One, Chapter Three, by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja
Nārada Ṛṣi says in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.1.30–31):
kāmād dveṣād bhayāt snehād
yathā bhaktyeśvare manaḥ
āveśya tad-aghaṁ hitvā
bahavas tad-gatiṁ gatāḥ
gopyaḥ kāmād bhayāt kaṁso
dveṣāc caidyādayo nṛpāḥ
sambandhād vṛṣṇayaḥ snehād
yūyaṁ bhaktyā vayaṁ vibho
“Many persons, having adopted the path of bhakti, obtained the highest destination (prema) by full absorption of the mind in Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Similarly, many persons, having absorbed the mind in Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whether through lust, malice, fear or affection, were purified of all contamination and obtained liberation. O King, the gopīs through lust, Kaṁsa through fear, Śiśupāla and other kings through envy, the Vṛṣṇis through their familial relationship, you Pāṇḍavas through affection and we devotees through devotion have attained Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”
Amongst these, malice and fear are pratikula, unfavourable to bhakti, so those who attached their consciousness to Kṛṣṇa through these emotions did not attain bhakti. This verse is given to explain that if someone meditates on Kṛṣṇa in these moods, they may attain liberation, but not bhakti. But oddly enough, if one meditates on Bhagavān in these unfavourable moods such as anger, malice and fear, his absorption will be deeper than those who have attached their minds to him through bhakti.
At the moment we are sitting before the deities hearing hari-kathā, but suppose a snake suddenly entered the room. What will everyone do? Everyone will turn their attention to the snake and keep their vision fixed upon it. If the snake goes one way, everyone would run the other way, and then if it moved in another direction, everyone would again move away from it. Our previous absorption in hearing hari-kathā would be lost. This is the nature of fear. In a similar way the minds of demons like Rāvaṇa, Kaṁsa and Śīśupāla were deeply absorbed in Bhagavān and they attained mukti although their moods were unfavourable. If one absorbs his mind in Kṛṣṇa through bhakti, by having a familial relationship with him, or by sneha, he can go to Goloka-Vṛndāvana, the highest place. But to actually do this is very difficult.
In our discussion of these two verses from the Bhāgavatam, we have rejected malice and fear because they are pratikula. So the moods of bhakti, kāma, sambandha (being related to Kṛṣṇa) and sneha still remain. Sneha can also be removed from this list. Sneha that is included within vaidhī-bhakti is the sneha like that of the Pāṇḍavas. Within it is aiśvarya, awareness of Kṛṣṇa’s majesty. In rāgānugā-bhakti there is no place for aiśvarya, so this sneha can be left aside. And then there is the other sneha, which comes after the stage of prema: there is prema, and then comes sneha, māna, praṇaya and so on. Because it is above the stage of prema, it has no utility for rāgānugā-bhakti. A devotee can experience bhāva in sādhana, the stage of practice, but prema can only be experienced in sādhya, the stage of perfection. When that prema increases more and more and a devotee’s heart melts upon directly gaining sight of his iṣṭadeva, worshipable deity, it is called sneha. This sneha is the sole property of rāgātmikā devotees, those who reside in the spiritual world, so it is not relevant to us in our present condition.
In this verse Nārada says yūyaṁ bhaktyā vayaṁ vibho: he attained Bhagavān’s mercy through bhakti. How did that bhakti come to him? Thousands of sages came to his village and remained there through the four months of Cāturmāsya. During this time Nārada rose early in the morning and bathed with them, rendered service to them, heard hari-kathā from them and sincerely followed their instructions. By doing this he entered into vaidhī-bhakti, and afterwards he left home to practise austerities. By continuing to worship Bhagavān and chanting his mantra for some time, he eventually received a brief glimpse of the four-armed form of Bhagavān. His mantra was for worshipping that form of Bhagavān. According to the nature of a devotee’s mantra, when he becomes perfected he will realise the deity of that specific mantra. For instance, we Vaiṣṇavas chant the gopāla-mantra. If we do bhajana properly and continue to chant this mantra, we will one day receive darśana of our iṣṭadeva Gopāla, just as Gopa-kumāra did.
So Nārada caught a glimpse of Nārāyaṇa, and then Nārāyaṇa told him, “For now you cannot have my darśana eternally because, although your heart has become pure, there are still some sattvic desires remaining within you. When these have also been eradicated, you will shed your material body and become my eternal associate. Then for eternal time you will be able to see me. For now, wander around the material world performing bhajana and preaching.” Then Nārada abandoned whatever attachments he had, including his previous determination to remain in a solitary place to perform bhajana. Following the order of Bhagavān, he began wandering in all directions for preaching. When death came, Nārada placed his feet on death, and unseen to anyone, he shed his material body and acquired a spiritual body. In this body he was transferred to Vaikuṇṭha, and later in a manifest form he began wandering in the material world for preaching.
By his practice of vaidhī-bhakti, Nārada was transferred to Vaikuṇṭha. But regardless of how much prema a devotee possesses, vaidhī-bhakti can only take one to Vaikuṇṭha and no higher. So even in this prema there is a cause involved. But where there is no cause whatsoever, where a devotee serves Bhagavān naturally, not considering whether he is actually Bhagavān or not or whether he is beautiful or not, and where the natural loving proclivity of the heart is firmly attached to Bhagavān, this prema is truly causeless and it will take one directly to Goloka-Vraja.
The following is an excerpt from a lecture by Śrīla Bhaƙtivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja in Germany, on July 8, 2007 (The Hidden Path of Devotion)
If one claims to have greed for service to Śrīmatī Rādhikā or service like the other Vrajavāsīs, there must be some symptoms in them. If one actually sees or meets Śrīmatī Rādhikā, that devotee cannot remain in this world. Nārada (at the stage of bhāva-bhakti) saw only a glimpse of his Lord Nārāyaṇa, and then the Lord disappeared and told him, “I never give my audience to those who are not pure.” So, how is it possible for a conditioned soul to see Rādhikā? Unwilling to accept any inconvenience in the execution of vaidhī-bhakti, those who don’t follow its rules and regulations are completely independent, whimsical, and opposed to śāstra.
The following is an excerpt from Discerning the True Sentiments of the Soul, Part I – Real and Unreal Spiritual Body, Kṛṣṇa Will Arrange Everything, by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja
Kṛṣṇa will arrange everything. A person need not become mad and artificially imitate this stage, otherwise he will find himself outside this spiritual Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava line. It is essential to long for the day when our siddha-deha will appear, but not to imagine that we have attained it before it has actually manifested. We can only pray, “O Kṛṣṇa, I want to be eternally in Vṛndāvana, in a transcendental body. O Kṛṣṇa! O Gurudeva!
When will I have siddha-deha and siddha-nāma, the name of my pure soul? O Śrīmatī Rādhikā! When will I become Your maidservant, Your pālya-dāsī? When will I reside with You near Govardhana and Rādhā-kuṇḍa? When will I attain that position?”
We should always have that as our objective, hankering to attain service to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, but not imagining that we are Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s intimate sakhīs, devoted friends, like Lalitā, Viśākhā, or any other sakhī, otherwise we will be ruined.
Patience is required. In the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated that Śrī Nārada Muni had been meditating and performing austerities for many years in order to realize the Lord. After that, Lord Nārāyaṇa appeared to him for a moment and then disappeared. Śrī Nārada immediately became upset and lamented, “Oh, Lord Nārāyaṇa has gone. What shall I do?” When he began to weep loudly, a voice called to him from the sky, assuring him, “Don’t worry. You will have to wait, because no one can see Me in his material body. By My mercy I showed you My form for a moment, but now you must wait. Continue chanting My names and remembering Me twenty-four hours daily wherever you are, and preach My hari-kathā (narrations of Śrī Hari and His associates) to others. One day death will come, at which time you will put your feet on its head and quickly give up your material body.”
prayujyamāne mayi tāṁ
śuddhāṁ bhāgavatīṁ tanum
[Having been awarded a transcendental body befitting an associate of the Personality of Godhead, I quit the body made of five material elements, and thus all acquired fruitive results of work (karma) stopped.]
At the time of death, when Śrī Nārada Muni left his body made of five material elements, his siddha-deha appeared and he realized himself as an associate of the Supreme Lord. When did this perfection come? Not in the beginning. It came at the most advanced stage of his Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
We can expect to attain our siddha-deha when we have understood all siddhānta, conclusive spiritual truths. One who does not care to know such truths will say, “This fire (the activities of artificial spiritual perfection) is my mahā-prasāda (remnants of food or other articles offered to the Deity).” In other words, that person will accept his misconception as the Lord’s remnants, or the Lord’s mercy. He will eat that fire and be finished.
This misconception is called sahajiyāism, and there is a great difference between sahajiyās and real Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī were not sahajiyās. They were actually following the correct process of bhakti.
The following is an excerpt from Discerning the True Sentiments of the Soul, Part II –The Bona Fide Process: Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka, How Śrī Nārada Muni Received Siddha-deha, by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam states that Nārada Muni received his mantra from Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana, and Sanat-kumāra. Later, as soon as his mother died, he left for the dense forest. There he bathed in a river, sat down silently under the shade of a banyan tree, chanted his mantra, and meditated upon the Supersoul within his heart. After practising this for many years, Lord Viṣṇu momentarily manifested in his heart and then vanished.
As mentioned earlier, Nārada wept bitterly in separation from Lord Viṣṇu, and then a voice from the sky called to him, “Nārada, I will not give you darśana again as long as you are in this material body. Continue chanting My name, remembering Me, and glorifying My pastimes all over the world. At the appropriate time, when death comes, you will put your feet on the head of death and be liberated.” *
Following Viṣṇu’s instruction, Nārada always chanted and remembered the Lord, and while playing on his vīṇā, he sang songs and poems glorifying the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa. For example, he sang rādhā-ramaṇa haribol. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura also wrote about many pastimes of Kṛṣṇa and His devotees in his own poetries and songs. He wrote a song beginning, “nārada muni, bājāya vīṇā, rādhikā-ramaṇa-nāme – Nārada Muni plays his vīṇā while chanting the glories of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.”
He also wrote:
[Kṛṣṇa is the beloved son of Mother Yaśodā, the topmost hero of Vraja, the delight of Gokula, and Kāna (an affectionate nickname for Kṛṣṇa). He is the treasure of the lives of the gopīs, the enchanter of even Cupid, and the punisher of the serpent Kāliya.]
After many years, Nārada left his mortal body. At that same moment his siddha-deha manifested, and in that siddha-deha he became so powerful that he could travel anywhere in the universe or beyond. Unlike Dhruva Mahārāja, Nārada did not require the help of an aeroplane to transport him to Vaikuṇṭha.
We should try to know all of the processes taught by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura.** This particular process is given when the disciple is in an advanced stage of bhakti: śravaṇa-daśā (the stage of hearing), varaṇa-daśā (the stage of thirsting for spiritual emotions), smaraṇa-daśā (the stage of remembrance of the Lord and His intimate associates), bhāvāpaña-daśā (the stage of uninterrupted remembrance and ecstatic spiritual sentiments in bhāva-bhakti, or svarūpa-siddhi), and finally prema-sampatti-daśā (attaining the ultimate goal, love of Godhead). It is in sampatti-daśā that one fully realizes his siddha-deha (this stage is also known as vastu-siddhi, the spiritual body receiving direct darśana and service of the Lord and His associates).
In śravaṇa-daśā, the stage of hearing, one hears about the process to attain perfection from his bona fide guru from Vedic scriptures like Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Jaiva-dharma, and the entire philosophy of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. In śravaṇa-daśā there are many things to learn, such as one’s name and identity – not the name of one’s material body, but of his transcendental body.
The true guru knows this. A false guru does not know this, but by imagination gives this type of information. The bona fide guru knows everything: your name, your relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Śrīmatī Rādhikā, and the gopīs, your place of residence – whether it is at Rādhā-kuṇḍa, Jāvaṭa, Nandagaon, or Varṣāṇa – the name of your father and mother, your service, and the nature of your beautiful form. He then reveals your particular service to Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa conjugal, and your pālya-dāsī-bhāva, your nature as a maidservant of Śrīmatī Rādhikā. As mentioned earlier, there are eleven items in all.
The following is an excerpt from Śrī Hari-kathāmṛta, Volume Two, Chapter Four, Vyāsa-pūjā, by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja
bhajāmi rādhāṁ aravinda-netrāṁ
smarāmi rādhāṁ madhura-smitāsyāṁ
vadāmi rādhāṁ karuṇā-bharārdrāṁ
tato mamanyasti gatir na kāpi
“I worship Rādhā who has lotus eyes, I remember Rādhā who has a sweet smile and I speak of Rādhā who is melted with compassion. In this way, I have no other goal.” Meditate on this verse and bring this description of Rādhikā into your heart. Also meditate on Kṛṣṇa giving the highest importance to Rādhikā, the mood of their Sevā-kuñja pastimes. By the medium of performing kīrtana in line with the moods expressed in verses like this one which is written by the gosvāmīs, smaraṇa will automatically take place. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Prabhupāda writes:
kīrtana prabhāva, smaraṇa haibe,
se kāle bhajana-nirjana sambhava
“When by the influence of kīrtana one genuinely enters into smaraṇa, then he will be capable of performing bhajana in a solitary place.”
The guru is he who is fully knowledgable in these matters. The sādhaka should find a guru who is situated within the line in which he is aspiring. If the guru and sādhaka don’t share the same mood, their relationship will not bear fruit; in other words, the disciple will not enter into the conception given by Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The guru should be fully realised in regard to that which Caitanya Mahāprabhu descended into this world to give, and then he is capable of giving that same thing to the disciple. Especially, it has been said that the guru is not of an ordinary standard. At the very least the guru should be a madhyama or intermediate uttama-adhikārī, and then the mercy which he bestows upon the disciple will be effective. If the guru is not up to this standard, then in reality he can only give some general help to the disciple. In such a situation the disciple will not realise the highest things within his heart. It has been said that the guru should be of one of these classes: a kaniṣṭha or preliminary uttama-adhikārī, a madhyama or intermediate uttama-adhikārī or an uttama or topmost uttama-adhikārī. Such a topmost devotee has the power to make all spiritual perfection arise within a person’s heart simply by placing his hand on their head and bestowing his mercy.
The kaniṣṭha uttama-adhikārī is known as mūrcchita-kaṣāya, which means that he still has material desires, but they are lying in a dormant condition and are unable to do any harm. An example of this is Nārada in his previous birth as the son of a maidservant. He was engaged in bhakti-sādhana and then one day Bhagavān granted him a brief darśana. When Bhagavān departed, Nārada began lamenting and then in a voice from the sky the Lord said to him, “As long as you remain in this material body which has been produced by karma and as long as you harbour material desires, you cannot obtain my constant association. Now perform sādhana-bhajana by traversing the earth and singing my glories. Preach the glories of my name everywhere.” At that time Nārada was in mūrcchita-kaṣāya. All of one’s anarthas may have disappeared, but as long as the body produced by previous karma remains, there is always the possibility that material desires can come. When one receives Bhagavān’s mercy and performs bhajana more and more, when one’s material body no longer remains, when one puts his feet on the head of death and receives the body of a liberated soul, when not even a scent of anarthas or material desires remain, then one has become an uttama or topmost uttama-adhikārī. This is the stage known as bhagavat-pārṣada-deha-prāpta, having obtained a spiritual body suitable for rendering service in the spiritual world. Such devotees can give mercy, and on the order of Bhagavān they travel throughout the material world doing just that. Such a devotee has the power to say to someone, “May you have bhakti,” and at once bhakti will arise within him. The devotee in mūrcchita-kaṣāya with great endeavour tells others hari-kathā and is also capable of giving mercy. He has this power because all his anarthas have vanished and he is completely immersed in the glorification of the Lord.
The intermediate uttama-adhikārī devotee is known as nirdhūta-kaṣāya. The word nirdhūta means that not even any dormant desires remain within him; they have all been cleansed away. In the case of Vyāsa, by the mercy of Nārada he was engaged in glorifying Kṛṣṇa more and more. Then everything was washed away from his heart and no anartha or anything remained there. Those who have similarly been cleansed of all material impurities are called nirdhūta-kaṣāya. An example of this class of devotee is Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Nārada, Vyāsā and many other great devotees were present at the assembly where Parīkṣit Mahārāja was to hear the Bhāgavatam, yet it was Śukadeva whom they wanted to hear it from—why? Because he was nirdhūta-kaṣāya, having no trace of material desire. Once he passed by several women as they were bathing. Although he saw them as they were naked, it had no meaning to him and he was not affected. Vyāsa sent him to Mithila for instruction, and like an avadhūta he arrived there without wearing any clothes. The king had previously given the order to not let him enter. At the first gate the guards stopped him. They said, “Wait here; we are going inside to obtain the order for you to enter,” but they didn’t return for two or three days. Not knowing what was happening, Śukadeva continued waiting there all that time. Then the guards returned and said, “Yes, you can enter now.” So they led him in, but only to another gate. Situated there were many beautiful sixteen-year-old girls who led him around the hundreds of enchanting gardens on the palace grounds. All the while they were trying to allure him with provocative gestures, yet it meant nothing whatsoever to him. Next he was led inside where he was instructed by Janaka. Janaka was also not an ordinary personality. So Śukadeva was nirdhūta-kaṣāya, and by the mercy of Vyāsa the rasa described in the Bhāgavatam arose within his heart. Then he was able to speak the Bhāgavatam before such an exalted assembly. Such great personalities are capable of simply glancing at someone and bestowing upon him all spiritual perfections.
These three classes of devotees cannot perform the function of guru; they must come down a little to a lower stage to do that. Such devotees are unable to discriminate between conditioned souls and liberated souls. Sometimes a little semblance of discrimination is possible. What are the activities of such a guru? He says, “Perform hari-bhajana, chant Hare Kṛṣṇa; that’s all. May all perfections arise within you.” Once Nārada came across a hunter shooting birds and Nārada gave him a little mercy. Nārada had him sit down and chant, and after some time the man broke his bow, threw it away and became immersed in bhajana.
These are the three types of most elevated guru. If we meet such a guru, in an instant we can cross over the ocean of material existence. Such gurus are very, very rare but it is possible to find them. If our saṁskāra, acquired nature, is sufficiently developed, Bhagavān will arrange for us to meet such a guru. Another point here—suppose the association of not one of these three types of guru are available to us. So will we just not perform bhagavat-bhajana then? Especially at the time of searching for a spiritual master, a sādhaka is not very knowledgeable. So from whom will he hear? He thinks, “I am considering now whom to select as my guru.” At that time he is completely innocent, but he has a little faith. If he has some saṁskāra from his previous life, he will understand something. Otherwise, he won’t be able to understand who is a qualified guru and who isn’t. At that time, Bhagavān acts to establish a relationship with a guru for him. So if the association of one of these three types of devotee is not available, then one should associate with a madhyama-adhikārī guru who is a little inferior to them but who is expert in knowledge of the scriptures, detached from material enjoyment, possesses some direct realisation of Bhagavān and capable of dispelling a disciple’s doubts. By the influence of his good conduct, by giving instruction from the scriptures and by bestowing mercy, such a guru can make a disciple progress in spiritual life and eventually lead him to Bhagavān. Such devotees are also fit to be revered as gurus.
* This means that when Nārada will leave his body at the time of death, he will not suffer any pain or unhappiness, as do ordinary conditioned souls. Moreover, he will immediately attain his eternal spiritual form and eternal service to the Lord
** This is given especially in Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Śrī Harināma-cintāmaṇi and Jaiva-dharma.
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