Jagannātha dāsa (from Russia): Śrīla Gurudeva, you said that one should not remember these pastimes artificially. But vaidhī-bhakti is artificial. Did you mean something else by that?
Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: Vaidhī-bhakti is not artificial. If you pray, “O Kṛṣṇa, please remove all my anarthas (bad thoughts and habits), be pleased with me and give me pure bhakti,” that is not artificial. If a devotee engages in śravaṇam (hearing Kṛṣṇa’s names and glories), kīrtanam (chanting His names and glories), viṣṇu-smaraṇam (remembering Him), this is not artificial.
Jagannātha dāsa: But in vaidhī-bhakti one has to sometimes force himself to think and act properly.
Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: No harm; this is practice. If your mind is not fixed in one-pointed devotion, then you must bring it back from the other places. You are hearing hari-kathā; this is not artificial. You are performing kīrtana; this is not artificial. You are worshiping; this is not artificial.
Devotee: What do you mean by artificial?
Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: If you are thinking about Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in a way that is beyond your qualification, this is artificial. If you are thinking, “Now I have realized my siddha-deha,” but you have not actually realized it, this is artificial.
Balarāma dāsa: Is there a reason why we take off our shoes when we offer our obeisances?
Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: You don’t know?
Balarāma dāsa: No, I don’t know; that is why I am asking.
Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: When you take prasādam, what do you do? Do you take prasādam with shoes or without shoes?
Balarāma dāsa: Well, it depends. If somebody comes to me with your mahā-prasādam, I will take that straightaway.
Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: That is a special case.
Balarāma dāsa: But normally we don’t take prasādam while wearing shoes.
Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: We should take off our shoes and then offer obeisances. If you are not allowed to take shoes to the altar when you are worshiping the Deity, how can you offer your daṇḍavats to gurudeva and the Vaiṣṇavas with your shoes on?
If you do not take off your shoes at the time of offering obeisances, bhakti will at once run away. Bhakti-devī will think, “He is neglecting me.” Try to learn all these principles by seeing the activities of elevated Vaiṣṇavas. Watch their dealings.
Devotees should practice the devotional process just as Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, and Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī practiced. Do you know how Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī practiced? What type of prasādam did he use to take? Did he take delicious prasādam?
Balarāma dāsa: He took one leaf-cup of buttermilk every three days.
Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: When he was in Jagannātha Purī, he used to eat rotten rice that even the cows rejected. He used to wash that rice and then eat it.
First be renounced enough from material desires to be able to act like Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, and then meditate on the Lord’s intimate pastimes.

Walking with A Saint – Morning Walks and Conversations 2008 by
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Image/Art made possible by Pixabay.com & Krishnapath.org

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