The following is a translation of a Bengali lecture given by Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, published in Rays of The Harmonist, Winter 2001 (Originally published in Śrī Gauḍīya Patrikā, issue 10/11)
cintāmaṇir jayati somagirir gurur me
śikṣā-guruś ca bhagavān śikhi-piñcha-mauliḥ
līlā-svayaṁvara-rasaṁ labhate jayaśrīḥ
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 1.57)
“All glories to Cintāmaṇi and my initiating spiritual master, Somagiri. All glories to my instructing spiritual master, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who wears peacock feathers in His crown. Under the shade of His lotus feet, which are like desire trees, Jayaśrī [Rādhārāṇī] enjoys the transcendental mellow of an eternal consort.”
All glories to him whom Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the beloved life and soul of Śrī Rādhā, considers to be more dear than His own life. All glories to he who is nayantāra, the star of the eye of Śrī Rādhā, who is the all in all of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. All glories to that personality who is the eternal companion of Śrī Gaurāṅga and Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda, and who is the only friend, shelter, and very life and existence of fallen souls like me. All glories to Śrī Gurudeva, my eternal master, who is the eternally worshipable lord of my heart, the deliverer of the fallen, the most magnanimous, and an ocean of compassion. All glories to that wish-fulfilling jewel (cintāmaṇi svarūpa), Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda, the personal associate of Gaura and Rādhā (gaura-radhe nijajana), the dust of whose lotus feet alone is the object of my constant longing and is my supreme necessity. May that prabhu, who does not see the faults of others (adoṣa darśī), and who is the friend of the destitute and lowly (dinā bandhu), cast his merciful glance upon me. By his own qualities may he forgive the offences of a fallen offender like me, thus giving me the opportunity of his eternal service. This is my only prayer and submission at his lotus feet.
I am ignorant, blind and fallen. I do not know, nor have I tried to know, what is auspicious and what is inauspicious. However, my śrī guru-pāda-pādma came from Goloka to this world only to help me. His heart was afflicted with the burden of distress upon seeing my averse nature, and after some time he returned to his eternal abode. He alone mercifully made people like me, who were blinded with ignorance, acquainted with the fact that there are no other means of welfare besides sādhu-saṅga, and no way to attain the mercy and service of Bhagavān other than by obtaining sādhu-sevā and sādhu-kṛpa.
Only those who are fully dedicated to Bhagavān (bhagavadanugat) and exclusively surrendered to Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇaika-śaraṇa) are sādhus. The association of such sādhus is the only desirable thing for us, because it alone bestows the highest welfare. In one sense, only sādhus are the life of one’s very life. No one is my friend and supreme well-wisher besides the sādhus, or the bhaktas of Gaurasundara. By my Gurudeva’s grace I have received the opportunity to hear such an auspicious vaṇi, message. I have not only obtained the opportunity to hear from him, but also to associate with him, which is rarely attained even by the demigods, as well as to associate with his nijajanas, personal associates. It is only because of this that a fallen and degraded person like me became successful. Thus, how can I find any shelter or support other than by praying for mercy at the lotus feet of my prabhu, the deliverer of the fallen and the friend of the world? Therefore, I pray to him, folding my hands and bowing down my head.
ādadānas tṛṇaṁ dantair idaṁ yāce punaḥ punaḥ
śrīmad rūpa-padāmbhojau dhuliḥ syāṁ janma-janmani
(Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī’s Śrī Dāna-keli Cintāmaṇi 175)
“This fallen soul stands with a straw in his teeth and ceaselessly begs to attain the dust of the lotus feet of Śrīmad Rūpa Gosvāmī birth after birth.”
There is no means for us to attain the highest welfare other than through sādhu-saṅga, and therefore it is instructed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.26.26):
tato duḥsaṅgam utsṛjya
satsu sajjeta buddhimān
santa evāsya chindanti
“An intelligent person should therefore reject all bad association and instead take up the association of saintly devotees, whose words cut off the excessive attachment of one’s mind.”
One should take sat-saṅga, giving up all types of asat-saṅga. By the influence of sādhu-saṅga, in other words, by the sharp words emanating from the pure devotees’ lotus mouths, the hidden fantasy of the mind in the form of desires for sense enjoyment, and also the covered desires for sense enjoyment in the form of desire for renunciation, are dispelled from the heart forever. There will be no path to attain auspiciousness and bhāgavat-prīti, if one becomes indifferent towards such sādhu-saṅga and sādhu-sevā. Although such sādhu-saṅga is extremely rare, it is not completely unattainable for one who prays for it without duplicity, with sincerity, and with the knowledge that it is very difficult to receive the association of a sādhu in this world of asādhus (non-devotees). Bhagavān mercifully appears in this world to give His saṅga, and sometimes He sends His dear associates. We see in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta:
sādhu pāiyā kaṣṭa baḍa jīvera jāniyā
sādhu-guru-rūpe kṛṣṇa āilā nadīyā
“Knowing that it is very difficult for a jīva to come across a sādhu, Kṛṣṇa Himself appeared as a sādhu and guru in Nadīyā.”
śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya āra prabhu nityānanda
yāṅhāra prakāśe sarva jagat ānanda
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 1.87)
“The appearance of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya and Prabhu Nityānanda has surcharged the world with happiness.”
dui bhāi hṛdayera kṣāli’ andhakāra
dui bhāgavata-saṅge karāna sākṣātkāra
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 1.98)
“But these two brothers (Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityānanda) dissipate the darkness of the inner core of the heart, and thus They help one meet the two kinds of bhāgavatas (persons or things in relationship with the Personality of Godhead).”
eka bhāgavata baḍa — bhāgavata-śāstra
āra bhāgavata — bhakta bhakti-rasa-pātra
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 1.99)
“One of the bhāgavatas is the great scripture Śrīmad- Bhāgavatam, and the other is the pure devotee absorbed in the mellows of loving devotion.
dui bhāgavata dvārā diyā bhakti-rasa
tāṅhāra hṛdaye tāṅra preme haya vaśa
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 1.100)
“Through the actions of these two bhāgavatas, the Lord instils the mellows of transcendental loving service into the heart of a living being, and thus the Lord, in the heart of His devotee, comes under the control of the devotee’s love.”
There are two types of sādhus: śāstras (scriptures) and bhaktas (devotees). Both of these perform kīrtana; that is, both can glorify the topics of Bhagavān and His bhaktas. Śāstras and bhaktas are the only friends and well-wishers of the jīvas, and therefore they are the very life of the jīvas. Those who are intelligent, who always engage in the search for truth and the path of eternal well-being, cannot live without the association of sādhus and śāstras. With firm vows they follow sadācara, conduct leading to truth, in the form of steadfastly rejecting asat-saṅga and eagerly taking sat-saṅga. Therefore, they always endeavour to have the saṅga of bhakta-bhāgavat. In the absence of sādhu-saṅga, they take the association of śāstra. The conscious entity, or jīva, cannot live without such association throughout the twenty-four hours. If one does not always have sādhu-saṅga both externally and internally, he will surely have to accept asat-saṅga.
When at any time the saṅga of the bhāgavat (bhakta) is not available to us, what other means remains for our auspiciousness than accepting śāstriya sadhu-saṅga? Our intelligence cannot be firmly fixed in Kṛṣṇa without sādhu-saṅga. Therefore, what benefit will we derive through sense enjoyment performed on the pretence of service that is devoid of the guidance of sādhu and śāstra? What benefit will there be by remaining indifferent to sādhu-saṅga, wherein sat-siddhānta is discussed?
The saṅga or anugatya of the sādhu is service indeed. The hari-kathā emanating from the lotus mouth of the sādhu, his śāstra-kathā, alone attracts us towards the lotus feet of Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. Therefore, those who are intelligent always keep their minds and life absorbed in the discussion and service of the kathā of sādhu and śāstra. We certainly invite inauspiciousness by showing indolence towards such discussion.
Our previous ācārya Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī Prabhu has said in Śrī Caitanya-caritamṛta:
siddhānta baliyā citte nā kara alasa
ihā ha-ite kṛṣṇe lāge sudṛḍha mānasa
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 2. 117)
“A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of such conclusions, considering them controversial, for such discussions strengthen the mind. Thus one’s mind becomes attached to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.”
Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇava—these are all adhokṣaja, beyond the mundane realm, and are nitya-sevya vastu, eternally the objects of our service. Their conscious and spiritually enlivening words alone are śāstra. Therefore, the śāstras are also adhokṣaja and Nitya. Not knowing this, if we consider śāstra, Śrī Murti, Śrī Nāma and Śrī Vaiṣṇava as entities of the mundane realm composed of five elements and thus neglect them, we will surely be drowned in the mud of offences and will remain deprived of their service. If we fail to cultivate and discuss the topics of sādhu and śāstra, then, being overpowered by the urge of speech, we will be unable to restrain ourselves from discussing the unreal topics of this world, either openly or secretly. Therefore, it is imperative for an intelligent person to endeavour to hear the glories of śāstra from devotees who are well-versed in their imports, even if he himself has no desire to discuss śāstra.
One gradually develops ruci for chanting Śrī Nāma by faithfully chanting with great respect and śraddha. Similarly, one develops firm faith and ruci in the statements of scriptures by regularly discussing scripture under the guidance of sādhu and guru. At that time, the jīva acquires the fortune of realizing śāstras to be his shelter and very life. At that time he cannot live without the association of the book bhāgavat and devotee bhāgavat, and their association becomes the only object of his prayers and discussion.
We do not always get the association of living sādhus. Therefore, supremely compassionate Prabhupāda, my Ācāryadeva, mercifully wrote to his followers: “Without performing hari-bhajana, a jīva will become a karmī, a jñanī and anyābhilāṣī, covetous for motives other than Kṛṣṇa. One should therefore constantly call Bhagavān by chanting the mahā-mantra. By loudly performing kīrtana of kṛṣṇa-nāma, maintaining a fixed number of rounds, one becomes free from anarthas and his mundane propensities will be dispelled.
“Śāstriya sādhu-saṅga is proper. [In other words, in the beginning stage of one’s sādhana, a sādhaka must keep himself confined within the standards of vaidhi-bhakti set by sādhus in śāstra.] Afterwards, for the purpose of bhajana-sikṣā, one is at liberty for sādhu-saṅga. [When one reaches the higher stage of rāgānuga bhajana, then he can approach a svajatiya-āsya-snigdha sādhu for bhajana-śikṣā and perform his bhajana under his guidance and instructions, which may be independent from the norms of any śāstra.]
“You should attentively study the spiritual magazines. As you get time you must study and discuss Kalyāna kalpataru, Prarthanā, Caitanya-caritāmṛta, and so on. You will be able to attain all perfection by offenceless chanting. Śrī Nāma reveals Himself when one hears, studies and discusses śāstra. The anarthas that you have at present will not become prominent if you intensely perform śravaṇa and kīrtana.”
Kṛṣṇa-kīrtana alone is the jīvas’ dharma, constitutional occupation. This kṛṣṇa-kīrtana is of four kinds—nāma-saṅkīrtana, rūpa-saṅkīrtana, guṇa-saṅkīrtana and parikara-vaiśistamaya-līla kīrtana (kīrtana of pastimes saturated with the speciality of Krsna’s associates). We are ignorant about Kṛṣṇa, and therefore to perform kṛṣṇa-kīrtana, which is the sole occupation of the jīva, is impossible for us. Therefore, Śrī Vedavyāsa, being overwhelmed with mercy towards foolish jīvas like us, has composed Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam for our welfare. By discussing this pāramahaṁsi-saṁhita, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, bhakti towards Puruṣottama Kṛṣṇa at once appears and dispels lamentation, delusion and fear. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the crest jewel of muktas, liberated persons, studied this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from Śrīla Vedavyāsa.
Bhagavān Himself sends śāstras in the form of sādhu and guru, because we are forgetful of Kṛṣṇa. Is our path of auspiciousness then not obstructed if we do not respect or show eagerness to discuss such śāstras, which are full of auspiciousness and which were written and composed only for our welfare? Being completely unaware of these facts, is it proper for us to make sarcastic remarks towards those who are following their lives according to śāstra and sādhus, those who are well-versed in bhakti-siddhānta, and those who hold Gurudeva more dear than their own self?
For the welfare of the jīvas, the bhaktas have painstakingly and with great difficulties written śāstras. If, however, we do not discuss and study them, are we not guilty of the fault of neglect? Those who have prīti for Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas cannot live without prīti for śāstras. In other words, they will surely have prīti for śāstras also. Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī Prabhu has given us specific instructions for discussing Śrī Caitanya-caritamṛta and other scriptures. A wise person should certainly discuss all these topics.
māyā-mugdha jīvera nāhi svataḥ kṛṣṇa-jñāna
jīvere kṛpāya kailā kṛṣṇa veda-purāṇa
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 20.122)
“The conditioned soul cannot revive his Kṛṣṇa consciousness by his own effort. But out of causeless mercy, Lord Kṛṣṇa compiled the Vedic literature and its supplements, the Purāṇas.”
‘śāstra-guru-ātma’-rūpe āpanāre jānāna
‘kṛṣṇa mora prabhu, trātā’ — jīvera haya jñāna
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 20.123)
“The forgetful conditioned soul is educated by Kṛṣṇa through the Vedic literatures, the realized spiritual master and the Supersoul. Through these, he can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He is, and he can understand that Lord Kṛṣṇa is his eternal master and deliverer from the clutches of māyā. In this way, one can acquire real knowledge of his conditioned life and can come to understand how to attain liberation.”
sādhu-śāstra-kṛpāya yadi kṛṣṇonmukha haya
sei jīva nistare, māyā tāhāre chāḍaya
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 20.120)
“If the conditioned soul becomes Kṛṣṇa conscious by the mercy of saintly persons who voluntarily preach scriptural injunctions and help him to become Kṛṣṇa conscious, the conditioned soul is liberated from the clutches of māyā, who gives him up.”
In this world there is an immense facility to hear mundane talks, but there is a great scarcity of hari-kathā. Therefore, everyone should become eager to hear hari-kathā—in other words, to discuss śāstra. This is my prayer to everyone.
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