Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Some people think that śūdras and women are very low. This is actually a wrong idea – a very wrong idea. You should know you are neither male nor female. The soul is transcendental, a servant of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but we have now accepted a female or male form. It is not that the intelligence is low in ladies and high in men.
It is also not true that black people are necessarily śūdras. Who are śūdras? Those who eat cow-flesh and drink alcohol, and those who cheat others. Śūdras are those engaged in diplomacy, duplicity, hypocrisy, and envy – whether they are black or white. I will speak something more on this topic, with reference to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
We are all spirit souls. The soul is not white or black. All souls are very beautiful. Regarding the transcendental form of the soul, there is no question of who is less intelligent or more intelligent. If ladies are so low-class and so low in intelligence, how could the gopīs have defeated even Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa? Why does our guru-paramparā, beginning from Brahmā and Nārada, worship the gopīs? Why did Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu – Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself – adopt Śrīmatī Rādhā’s mood? Śrīmatī Rādhikā always defeats Kṛṣṇa in beauty, in intelligence, and in all other ways. If ladies are less, why do we Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas want to be gopīs? We want to serve Lord Kṛṣṇa and Śrīmatī Rādhikā in a female form, not a male form. So how is it possible that this female form is lower? Don’t think like this.
Śrīla Vyāsadeva appeared in a family of śūdras, and Śrī Nārada Ṛṣi was also born in a śūdra-family. However, whoever calls them śūdras will go to hell. Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was born in a Muslim family. He appeared in a family in which cows were slaughtered and their flesh eaten, but he is not a Muslim.
Rāmānanda Rāya said about himself, ‘I am śūdra.’ This is tṛṇād api sunīcena – humility. Mahāprabhu said about Himself, ‘I am a Māyāvādī sannyāsī.’ Was He a Māyāvādī sannyāsī? Of course not. One may say that He Himself said so, but He said so only out of tṛṇād api sunīcena.
Paramānanda dāsa (from Ireland): Śrīla Gurudeva, when we are selling books, we sometimes meet people from the Muslim faith.
When we tell them that our nāmācārya Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was born in a Mohammedan family, they sometimes ask if in his childhood he ate meat.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He never took meat in his entire life – since birth.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Although he was born in a Muslim family, his family members were like Hindus. He was brought up like a Hindu.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He was an incarnation of the combination of Brahmā and Prahlāda. You should know that he would never take meat.
Paramānanda dāsa: And the Chand Kazi?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: At first he was eating meat. Then, by the association of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he gave up all his sinful activities.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: There was a ruling by the Buddhists that no one should deviate from Buddhism and no one should follow Śaṅkarācārya. To this end, they determined that everyone should see how he received that painful death. It was declared before the debate that he who loses would enter boiling oil.
This may be likened to the Muslim Kazi who declared that Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura should not be beaten inside a house, but in twenty-two marketplaces. In this way all would know, and no one would dare to give up being Muslim to accept Hinduism.
Dīnanātha dāsa: Yes. It was to create fear.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was beaten in twenty-two market places, although he had no karma. Draupadī had no karma, but she was attempted to be made naked in public. Sītā-devī and Rāmacandra had no karma to cause them to have to be banished to the forest for fourteen years. Although Prahlāda Mahārāja committed no offenses and had no karma, his father gave him poison and tried to kill him by fire and so many other means. This was not Prahlāda’s karma, rather it was the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. Through His personal example and the examples of His personal associates, Śrī Kṛṣṇa wants to teach the world that in order to do bhajana one must be as tolerant as they are.
Uttama-kṛṣṇa dāsa: Gurudeva, regarding the question of karma: If I beat somebody, does it mean that person previously beat me? For example, if he owed me ten dollars, now he is paying me back. Is it like this?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No. We should tolerate this, as Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was tolerant. Prahlāda Mahārāja was given poison, put in a fire, and tortured in many other ways; but he never thought, “I will take revenge against my father.” This is not Vaiṣṇava etiquette.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: What if that devotee is thinking, “Somebody is coming to kill me!”? But his body belongs to Gurudeva.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You are not Prahlāda or Sītā devī. You should try to escape, to save your life.
Śrīpāda Dāmodara Mahārāja: Nityānanda Prabhu ran away when Jagāi and Mādhāi went to beat him. Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura also ran away.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Mahā-bhāgavatas never run in fear. They know that Kṛṣṇa is present with them. They know that the Lord’s Sudarśana cakra (His disc weapon) will come and finish their aggressor.
Devotee: How do I always remain humble?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: We remain humble by remembering the instructions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu:
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
(Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka, Verse 3)
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.
You can remember the history and character of Śrī Prahlāda Mahārāja; remember how tolerant he was. Also remember Haridāsa Ṭhākura, who remained humble although beaten in twenty-two marketplaces.
Aniruddha dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, when you order disciples to preach, is this instruction to be followed immediately, or in the future?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If I ask you to bring me a glass of water, when do I want you to bring it? Do I mean that you should do this for your whole life? I am requesting you to do it now. When I say, “Always be meek and humble,” am I requesting you to only be humble for today or for right now? It is not that I want you to be like this only for the moment. If I say, “Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore, you should perform bhakti,” is this instruction only meant for the immediate moment? No, it is for this life and all lives to follow.
Devotee: You said earlier that one should be more tolerant than a tree. How can someone be more tolerant than a tree? If no one gives water to the tree, the tree will not ask for water. If someone cuts the tree, it will not resist. I think we can be taror iva, or as tolerant as a tree, but not more tolerant than a tree.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Taror api, meaning ‘more so than a tree,’ is correct. The trees and blades of grass are material (jaḍa). We are superior to the trees and grass because we are conscious (cetana). In other words, the consciousness of the human being is more developed than that of the tree and grass. If you put your foot on grass, the grass will bend down; but when you remove your foot, the grass will stand up again. A Vaiṣṇava should be more humble than that.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Haridāsa Ṭhākura was beaten in twenty-two marketplaces, almost to the point of death, but he did not consider this a problem. He kept chanting hare kṛṣṇa, hare kṛṣṇa. Prahlāda Mahārāja was tortured by his father [Hiraṇyakaśipu], yet he never felt he had a problem. Rather, he stood on the head of all problems.
Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa dāsa: You made it very clear that guru-sevā is of primary importance. Her question was this: Of the two, chanting or studying śāstra, which is more important?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I know of many pure devotees who were unable to read at all. Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura were both illiterate, but all literate persons bowed down to their lotus feet. How learned they were!
Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was blind, and was therefore not able to study anything. However, by the mercy of his guru-paramparā and the influence of his bhajana, he was able to tell a very learned scholar of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, “Your explanation is quite wrong.” That scholar then replied, “Bābā, please explain and I will hear.” Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja then explained Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in such a way that the entire audience was moved. Thus, chanting, remembering, and service to Kṛṣṇa are so exalted.
mūkaṁ karoti vācālaṁ
paṅguṁ laṅghayate girim
yat-kṛpā tam ahaṁ vande
(Adapted from Bhavārtha-dipikā, Maṅgala Stotram 1)
I offer my respectful obeisances unto śrī guru, the deliverer of all fallen souls, whose mercy turns the dumb into eloquent speakers and enables the lame to cross mountains
Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa dāsa: I did not finish university.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You did not finish, but you studied there. I did not study in any university. Moreover, Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī was totally illiterate and Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was as well.
Śrīpāda Sādhu Mahārāja: If someone is using most of his time to chant harināma and offer sevā, there will not be time to study. Is that all right? Will realization come by doing this?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: There must be sādhu-saṅga, so that even if one cannot read so much, he can hear. Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was illiterate. Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was also illiterate, but he heard from his spiritual masters Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, and thus he became qualified to teach all others.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has written about how he was accepted as a disciple by Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja: “My Prabhu, Śrīla Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, rejected me at first. I went to him so many times and asked him, ‘Please accept me.’ But Bābājī Mahārāja replied, ‘You are a very learned scholar and the rich son of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. I will ask Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nityānanda if They will allow me to initiate you.’ ”
Finally, when Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura personally requested him to accept his son, he did so.
Śrīpāda Sādhu Mahārāja: Śrīla Gurudeva, this devotee is asking if it is necessary to chant all of his rounds on beads every day. He has a job and it is not always possible to chant on beads.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I have told the devotees that sometimes they can chant on beads, and sometimes, while walking in service, they can chant without beads. I have said this to encourage those who have no interest in chanting. When a devotee becomes truly interested in chanting, he will chant sixty-four rounds or even more than that. Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura chanted three lākhas of holy names (one-hundred-ninety-two rounds) every day.
Rasa-sindhu dāsa: But at least sixteen rounds should be chanted on beads. Isn’t that correct?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I gave that concession for those who are not at all interested in chanting – only for them, not for everyone.
Rāmacandra dāsa: Yesterday there was a question. Is hearing the pure name and chanting the pure name equal? Also, when we hear the pure name uttered by gurudeva, does it remain pure when it enters our heart?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was chanting and the prostitute was hearing. What was the result? After three nights she was totally changed by his śabda-brahma (transcendental sound vibration, or God in the form of sound), which has great power to change anyone.
Aristanasana dāsa: What is the significance of Haridāsa Ṭhākura’s daily chanting sixty-four rounds loudly, sixty-four rounds softly, and sixty-four rounds in his mind? What are the teachings in that?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He did mānasī-japa (chanting within the mind) for himself, and he chanted aloud for the benefit of the trees, creepers, animals, and all living beings. Śrīmān Mahāprabhu told him, “You are doing both ācāra, devotional activities performed for the benefit of oneself, and pracāra, devotional activities performed for the welfare of all living beings.”
On one of his visits to the home of Hiranya and Govardhana Majumadāra [the father and uncle of Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī], Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was preaching about the glory of the holy name. Perhaps you know this history. At that time there was a dispute regarding the power of the holy name. A brāhmaṇa named Gopāla Cakravartī could not tolerate Haridāsa Ṭhākura’s words, and challenged him in the assembly: “After many millions upon millions of births, when one is complete in absolute knowledge, one still may not attain liberation, yet this man says that one may attain it simply by the awakening of a glimpse of the holy name!?!” He told Haridāsa Ṭhākura, “You don’t know anything. If I am right, then your nose will fall off from leprosy.”
Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was not unhappy, but all the members of that learned assembly began to rebuke that brāhmaṇa, who was struck with leprosy on the next day.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: His nose and his fingers fell off.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Mahāprabhu once asked Haridāsa Ṭhākura “On this Earth there are many living entities, some moving and some not moving. What will happen to the trees, plants, insects, and other living entities? How will they be delivered from material bondage?”
Haridāsa Ṭhākura replied, “My dear Lord, the deliverance of all moving and nonmoving living entities takes place only by Your mercy. You have already granted this mercy and delivered them. You have loudly chanted the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, and everyone, moving and not moving, has benefited by hearing it. When loud chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is performed all over the world by those who follow in Your footsteps, all living entities, moving and nonmoving, dance in ecstatic devotional love.”
Ariṣṭāsana dāsa: Some persons in ISKCON challenge your statement about Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura not being able to give prema. They told me, “If you say that Haridāsa Ṭhākura cannot give kṛṣṇa-prema, then why does it say in Harināma Cintāmaṇi that…
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He is able to give kṛṣṇa-prema, but he cannot give parakīya-madhura-rasa (service to the amorous paramour love between Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs). I explained that he was an associate of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and he was chanting the holy name, but his chanting and his bhakti were not like that of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. He was not rūpānuga; he was nāmācārya. He may give kṛṣṇa-prema, but he cannot give upapati mādhurya-bhāva (service to the amorous paramour love of Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs).
Ariṣṭāsana dāsa: He cannot give vraja-prema?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Especially not the upapati-bhāva of the gopīs.
Ariṣṭāsana dāsa: They said that if your statement is correct, then how is it that Haridāsa Ṭhākura explained the ekadāsa-bhāvas (the eleven moods of service for the devotee performing rūpānuga-bhajana)? How is it that he explained that the highest sādhya (goal of life) is service to Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī as a mañjarī?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He can describe it, but he cannot bestow it. Someone may be able to describe upapati-bhāva, but this does not mean that such a person can give it.
Vrajanātha dāsa: Gurudeva, Haridāsa Ṭhākura is an incarnation of Prahlāda Mahārāja and Brahmājī.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He is the combination of Brahmā and Prahlāda Mahārāja.
Vrajanātha dāsa: Brahmā is the ādi-guru (first guru) in our sampradāya.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Still, without being rūpānuga, no one can attain that gopī mood.
[Absorbed in the Moods of Mahāprabhu while Residing in the Abode of Separation (Śrī Jagannātha Purī-dhāma)
On the November 30, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja arrived at Jayaśrī Dāmodara Gauḍīya Maṭha, which is located at Cakra-tīrtha in Śrī Jagannātha Purī-dhāma. He was greeted by the devotees there who welcomed him with much affection and proper ceremony. As before, his attendants continued serving him around the clock. From time to time, they would chant kīrtana or read from śāstra to him in his bhajana-kutīra. Whenever Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja saw any of them sitting idle, he would say, “Do not be idle. Speak hari-kathā to the other devotees. Speaking hari-kathā is a limb of bhakti.”
One day, while looking across the wide beach toward the ocean, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja said softly, “Previously, whenever I would come to Śrī Jagannātha Purī-dhāma, I would meditate on Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s bathing in the ocean along with His associates. I would also meditate on the words of Śrīman Mahāprabhu at the time of Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura’s disappearance from this world, after He had bathed him in the ocean. Śrīman Mahāprabhu said that now this ocean is a mahā-tīrtha (supreme holy place) because it has become the caraṇāmṛta (foot-bathing water) of Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura. So, I would bathe in the ocean nearly every day. Now, also, I want to take bath with this ocean water. Can you bring some water from the ocean for me to bathe?” From that day onward, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja was bathed every day with water carried from the ocean.]
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