The following is an excerpt from Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion Volume 4 by Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja, published in Rays of The Harmonist, Summer 2002
In māyā or illusion, it is difficult for us to digest the truth that “I am small.” We don’t like to digest this and that is the rub. Our inner evil tendency is to capture the right of others, but we are to understand what is freedom. Here we really are accustomed to thinking that we can encroach over the freedom of others of the environment. That is the disease. Alternately, the reactionary tendency is to think, “I shall commit suicide, that is, let us enter the tomb, samādhi. If I cannot exercise my freedom on the environment outside, then rather I shall enter the tomb, the grave, but I won’t accept slavery, the serving attitude to the environment.”
We are frightened of becoming a servant. “I want to be an exploiting unit, but not a serving unit, that I shall give my freedom to another superior hand.” It is there where we shrink away and that is the inner defect. By freedom we understand that we have the freedom to exercise right over the environment. But why should we not accept service for the environment? Why? We think that we shall be reduced to the minimum position. But to do for others, to become a servant, is healthy for us and there we can thrive. We can thrive by serving the environment, and especially the Lord of the whole. We think that when we are rendering service, we are dying. That false temperament, has grown within us, and that is a foreign element that has covered the jīva proper. It is a bitter pill to swallow.
So what is service proper? Hegel’s philosophy is: Die to live, dissolve your ego as it is at present. Dissolve it mercilessly, die. Die means to dissolve mercilessly. Throw yourself into the fire and you will come out with a bright self. Learn to die as you are: That mentally concocted body, that concocted energy. To take the Name of the Lord and die.
Forget yourself as you are at present and you will find your proper self there that does not die. Death is ordained for our existence, so give to death that part of you that is ordained to die, and the eternal part of you will remain. But Mahāprabhu has discouraged the physical death. He told Sanātana Gosvāmī:
sanātana, deha-tyāge kṛṣṇa yadi pāiye
koṭi-deha kṣaṇeke tabe chāḍite pāriye
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 4.55)
“I am ready to die millions of crores of times in a second if that would give me Kṛṣṇa, but that dying is nothing.”
This physical death is tāmasika, ignorance; it is a very much of a lower bait. Not only physical death, but real death, the wholesale death, is necessary. Then also I may only get that taṭasthā, borderline, stage. But Mahāprabhu says, “Die or not die, go on with the cultivation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness with the company of a sādhu. Go on with the company of a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Try to accumulate that internal wealth by whatever means possible.”
This internal capital can be had only from the sādhu. Wherever you can get it and with whatever price you must pay, try to secure that innermost wealth. Not mere physical death or mental death has the reach to take you to that higher stage. You are to dive deep into Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Wherever and whenever you find someone with such strong attachment for Kṛṣṇa, you must try to secure it from him at any price and that will be the best utilization of your life and energy. You are to purchase the higher thing, and that is also at the sacrifice of the higher type of substance within you. You are to have innermost hankering and the transaction will be by the surrendering of your innermost existence. The encasements, the physical encasements and mental encasements of different types are many: bhūr, bhūvaḥ, svāh, mahāḥ, janaḥ, tapaḥ, satya. There are so many varieties and types of physical and mental encasements. These so many subtle encasements from gross to finer do not end only in Virajā and Brahmāloka, but even consciousness where the dedication is intense to its highest capacity, and that is dedication to the Autocrat. Dedication there is to the Autocrat, not to a constitutional king where there is justice, but dedication to Kṛṣṇa, to that Autocrat where everything can happen! The highest degree of dedication is necessary there. The gain is also similar; it is also of the highest type.
As much as you risk, so much you can expect to gain. That is, Mahāprabhu gives the direction: “Don’t be a miser, but surrender yourself to the Autocrat, the Absolute Good, and you will be the best gainer!” If you find a proper place, then give yourself totally, ātma-nikśepa. We have come to the proper place to offer our service, and Kṛṣṇa is the highest bidder. He is the highest bidder in the auction and He will pay most. He will pay so much that none can match His bid. He is the highest capitalist. But He is whimsical and He is prodigal! Kṛṣṇa is only known and knowable by the highest type of love and affection.
bhaktyāham ekayā grāhya
“By bhakti alone I can be approached, not otherwise. Exclusive devotion is necessary for you to come to Me. There is no other way.”
nāhaṁ vedair na tapasā
na dānena na cejyayā
śakya evaṁ-vidho draṣṭuṁ
dṛṣṭavān asi māṁ yathā
“It is not possible to see Me in this form, as you see Me now, merely by studying the Vedas, practising austerities, giving in charity or performing sacrifices.”
“In no way am I approachable except by exclusive devotion.” We are not satisfied by ordinary things which are available in nature. We have come to try for our prospect of something so high, so rare, so real. Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna:
hato vā prāpsyasi svargaṁ
jitvā vā bhokṣyase mahīm
tasmād uttiṣṭha kaunteya
“If killed in battle you will attain heaven, or by gaining victory you will enjoy the Earth. Therefore, O Arjuna, being confident of success, rise for battle!”
For him to give up the fight would be ruinous. Our campaign is so adventurous! If we are successful we have got the highest thing, but if unsuccessful then our prospect and our whole life is gone, gone! With this risk we have come to search for the most precious thing. We must remember this and not go back. We are to proceed with the search and enquiry, for if He is known then everything is known. With this temptation we have come:
yasmin jñāte sarvam idaṁ vijñātam bhavati
yasmin prāpte sarvam idaṁ prāptaṁ bhavati
tad vijijñāsasva tad eva brahma
Try to have experience about the root of everything, then everything will be at your command and in your hand. Kṛṣṇānusandhana: search for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. What is that Brahma, that Parabrahma, and all these stale things? Kṛṣṇa is the very gist of them. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is necessary. Everything is His, He has the monopoly. So, search after Kṛṣṇa. He is such, He is an Autocrat but He is a thief and He is a cheat!
Mahāprabhu, one day in Navadvīpa, was taking the name, “Gopī, Gopī, Gopī…” One gentleman who was from an educated class of that time objected, saying: “O Paṇḍita, O Nimāi Paṇḍita! Why do You take the name ‘Gopī, Gopī, Gopī’? That recommendation has not been found in any śāstra, but we have found the name of Kṛṣṇa in some scriptures and there it is told that some sort of good result may be expected by chanting that. So you may take the name of Kṛṣṇa, but why do you take the name of ‘Gopī, Gopī, Gopī’? It is out of the scriptures. Are you mad? What do you do, wasting your time? You are a brilliant scholar, but what is your degradation, deplorable degradation?”
Mahāprabhu was in a mood of “Who will take the name of Kṛṣṇa? He is a traitor! Just see how He has treated the gopīs! With so much sincere love they approached Him, but then He was so cruel that He left them and went away, leaving them, and so I shall teach you a lesson!” And Mahāprabhu went to beat that gentleman with a stick. That man thought Mahāprabhu to be stark mad. He thought Nimāi Paṇḍita to be finished, totally mad, and ran away! Returning to his own group, he told, “Nimāi Paṇḍita came to strike me with a bamboo stick. Now we must teach Him a good lesson!”
Mahāprabhu said, “Don’t take the name of Kṛṣṇa! He is very cruel, a treacherer (a cheat). He gives hope to His servitors and then flies away. So don’t go to that side. We shall rather worship the gopīs who can give but cannot come back. They can approach us, but they do not come back to retrace… We must worship them!”
The foremost gopī is Rādhārāṇī. She is the highest giver, the highest dictator. None can venture to come beside Her except Vrajendra-nandana. She is mahābhāva-svarūpiṇī. Sacrifice at its zenith is there; the highest standard ever is eternally represented there. Nowhere else is there such sacrifice, self-giving, or self-surrendering. It is beyond all standards ever known to the world of scriptures. Lakśmīdevī has no place near Kṛṣṇa, and similarly Nārāyaṇa cannot approach towards Rādhārāṇī, nor even Dvārakādhiśa, Māthureśa, nor even Gopeśa, what to speak of others. It may seem that all the gopīs were of equal rank in the rāsa dance, but some fine jealousy arose in the mind of Rādhārāṇī, and after showing Her superiority in chanting, dancing and so on, She suddenly disappeared. She conquered the common gopīs, and after defeating them She disappeared suddenly. Kṛṣṇa unexpectedly found Himself vacant. All the source of His energy was coming from that one point, and the dance was taking place. But when that very vitality was taken away He was feeling himself vacant. He searched for Her but could not find Her. He then stealthily left the company of all the gopīs in search for Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
‘Rādhā-madhava hṛdaye tat yāya brajasundarī.’ Jayadeva Gosvāmī said that so many gopīs are on one side but they are outweighed by Rādhārāṇī. They are all abandoned and Kṛṣṇa goes out to search for Her. This is also admitted in Mahāprabhu’s discussions with Rāmānanda Rāya, where it is told that there is a categorical difference between the quality of the loving service of the gopīs and that of Rādhārāṇī. I composed one verse that tells that at every point in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam there is the presence of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, because She is the goal there:
yad amiya-mahimā-śrīr-bhāgavatyaḥ kathāyaṁ
prati-padam anubhūtaṁ cāpy alābdhvābhidheya
She is the conclusion to be established in Bhāgavatam by so many descriptions of events, so many stories of devotion, and so forth. The highest aim of Bhāgavatam is to establish rādhā-dāsyam, service to Rādhārāṇī, and everything in Bhāgavatam is preparatory towards that end. But still Her name is not mentioned anywhere in Bhāgavatam. Everywhere in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam every word is used only to prove Her noblest position, but still no name is expressively given there for Her. Kṛṣṇa is akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrtiḥ. He is the combination of all sorts of ecstasies, and the main support of that akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrtiḥ is Śrīmatī Rādhikā. She is the only support of that līlā of Śyāma, the sole support, the fountainhead of mādhura-rasa. I surrender myself to the holy feet of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī who is the only support, the gist, the all-in-all of the whole life of akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrtiḥ: He who consists in Himself of all sorts of high rasa, ecstasies. She is His only support and I surrender myself to Her holy feet.”
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