śrī śrī guru-gaurāṅga jayataḥ
All glories to Śrī Guru and Śrī Gaurāṅga
I firstly offer innumerable prostrated obeisances to the feet of a great devotee of the Lord.
I received your gracious letter, dated 24 November, 1954, the day before yesterday.
I understand that you went to Śrīdhāma Māyāpura for Bābājī Mahārāja’s festival. I also came to know of the various other matters concerning that place. Being unqualified, I have been striving in vain to preach the glories of Śrī Hari. This is not a lie. As even a dwarf may want to grab hold of the moon, my talkative ventures are not unnatural, though it is possible only for a śuddha-bhakta, or pure devotee, to spread devotion to Śrī Hari. Although bhakti for Śrī Hari is extremely rare, even a person like myself, who is absorbed in the objects of the senses and whose senses are thus out of control, can harbor a greed for that sublime objective and strive to attain it. By the strength of the Vaiṣṇavas’ affectionate blessings and by relying on the grace of śrī gurudeva and Śrī Gaurasundara, who are supremely compassionate, I too will be able to conquer māyā and nurture aspirations to fuel the fulfilment of śrī guru and Gaurāṅga’s cherished desires.
Pretending to be a guru is the same as betraying one’s own guru. However, it seems to me that pretending to be a disciple and trying to be a disciple does not fall in the category of such maliciousness. If the sixty-four limbs of bhakti outlined in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta and described in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu were applicable only to perfected beings, those sixty-four limbs of bhakti would not have been described in the context of sādhana-bhakti.
I am a foolish person. I do not understand the purports of scripture very well. Still, despite the little I have understood, I am eligible to strive for the welfare of my soul as much as my capacity permits. The best of the best of śrī gurudeva’s devotees will fulfil the most cherished of his cherished desires. As for unfortunate individuals such as myself, who simply bear the title of disciple, what else can we unworthy failures accomplish other than a semblance of service and offences made in the course of said service as dictated by our lack of qualification?
If my affectionate godbrothers and śrī gurudeva have mercy on me, I will be able to cast far away my offenses to śrī nāma and offenses committed while serving, and thus become capable of preoccupying my very soul exclusively in the service of śrī guru and Gaurāṅga.
Śrī Hanumān-jī uprooted huge, towering mountains to bridge the ocean in the service of Śrī Rāma. At the same time, as her ability permitted, a chipmunk put her heart and soul into serving that cause—the bridge—by rolling in the sand and shaking it onto the walkway.
You are affectionate to me, and so my constant prayer to you is that I may not commit offenses to Vaiṣṇavas and be able to offer myself exclusively, like an oblation to the sacrificial flame, to the service of śrī guru and Gaurāṅga.
I was, prior to the fact, totally unaware of the festival held at Śrīmān Govinda dāsa’s house in honour of my birthday on Śrī Utthāna Ekādaśī. Although I have no right to obstruct him in rendering this service since he regards it as his practice of bhakti, I do think it would be better if he were prudent and considerate of the situation and did not hold such festivals. It is only wise to act according to time, place and circumstance. I do not think that the prominent Vaiṣṇavas of our maṭha would be satisfied by such a festival. As much as possible, we ought to anticipate which of our endeavours may prove dissatisfactory to the distinguished Vaiṣṇavas and proceed with caution in that regard. That is the intelligent thing to do. Whatever happens, “avaśyam-eva bhoktavyaṁ kṛtaṁ karma śubhāśubham—one must endure both the favourable and detrimental results of one’s actions” (Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa, 33.45).
I do not understand: Is your financial situation so dire that you will have to seek work again, even though you have already retired from your career? Too much ambition simply causes anxiety and unrest. It is prudent to strive to become free from desire. You have been traversing this journey of worldly householder life for quite some time now. You have cared for your children, raised them and, to every extent possible, provided them an education. Now, if you can get your youngest daughter married, the burden of worldly obligations on your shoulders will be significantly lighter. You should not neglect the responsibility you still have toward your wife. If it is not absolutely necessary—if you are simply hoping for more financial freedom—what is the point in seeking new employment? If you know you are definitely in need, then certainly go ahead and endeavour as you must.
saṁsāra-taṭinī- srota nahe śeṣa,
maraṇa nikaṭe ghora
saba samāpiyā bhajibô tomāya
e āśā biphala mora
Śaraṇāgati (Dainya, 3.5)
The current of the river of material existence knows no end. Ghastly death looms near. My hope that I would first conclude all my obligations before worshiping You has proven fruitless.
saṁsāra nirvāha kôri’ ĵābô āmi vṛndāvana
ṛṇa-traya śodhibāre kôritechi su-ĵatana
henô āśāya nāhi prayojana
I thought I would carry out my material life and then go to Vṛndāvana. I made concerted efforts to fulfill my life’s three debts*. There is no purpose to such hopes.
* Debts to the great sages, debts to the demigods and debts to one’s father.
emôna durāśā-vaśe, ĵābe prāṇa avaśeṣe
nā hôibe dīna-bandhura-caraṇa-sevana
These hopes have driven my life to its end. I will not be able to serve the lotus feet of He who is the friend of the fallen.
ĵadi sumaṅgala cāo, sadā kṛṣna nāma gāo
gṛhe thākô vane thākô ithe tarka akāraṇa
If you want true auspiciousness, always chant the name of Kṛṣṇa. It is pointless to debate whether one should stay at home or go live in the forest.
Surely, you recall the abovementioned instructions of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. I do not think it would be too bad an idea to take up some service at the Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda Institute and, in a calm, peaceful and tolerant manner, live in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura. Both husband and wife can stay there and endeavour in their bhajana. But remember, if you do not have perseverance and tolerance, it will be impossible to stay anywhere for long. If you are living in the dhāma and performing bhajana, I think it is possible you will very quickly obtain a house for your use.
Besides that, it would be good if you could cheaply procure some land in the fields next to the school. Although most of the land in that field becomes flooded during the rainy season, it would be good to have some land in Śrīdhāma.
I do not think it is possible for two conscious entities to live together without tolerance of each other’s differences. By “tolerance of each other’s differences,” I mean trying to understand what makes the other person happy or sad. If you cannot figure out what accommodates others and what inconveniences them, and if you are only really interested in your own mundane needs, then even if you are trying to be religious, it will never give you peace—not without conflict. If you do not have an extremely firm conviction in your goal and a profound craving for it, then you will surely see a lack of perseverance and tolerance in your performance of sādhana.
From such intolerance and instability, mutual disturbance and conflict are inevitable. It seems rather pointless to me to try to turn people totally favourable to our tastes. I believe that adjusting oneself to the world and trying to move along [in spiritual life], but without deviating even a bit from one’s spiritual path, is favourable to one’s ultimate spiritual wellbeing. We will have to make adjustments in both direct and indirect ways.
Our lifespans are dwindling and our senses are becoming dull. We must not delay any longer. It is imperative that we immediately make an urgent, concerted effort to cultivate what is favourable to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Practicing bhajana imbued with the mood of separation (vipralambha-rasa) is the highest path.
I therefore maintain that our essential duty is to become niṣkiñcana**, engage in the service of śrī guru and Gaurāṅga and apply our hearts and souls to the best of our abilities. We have been executing our material, worldly duties for a very long time. We should no longer devote too much time or energy in that regard, but rather as little as possible. It is crucial that we dedicate most of our time and energy to seeking the mercy of śrī guru and Gaurāṅga and to remaining engaged in the service of Śrī Gaura-Kṛṣṇa.
Please share the contents and news of this letter with your wife, as well.
An insignificant servant of Śrī Gaura’s associates,
Śrī Bhakti Dayita Mādhava
** In the literal sense, niṣkiñcana means “materially destitute.” In a devotional
context, however, it means “accepting Bhagavān and śrī guru as one’s only wealth.”
Source: Affection and Reproach (Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Mahārāja)
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