Devotee: How can a person exclusively desire to serve Kṛṣṇa when so many other desires are coming to him, as if bombarding him? What should he do? One may know, at least, what should be the highest standard or ideal to strive for; but in such circumstances, it seems so difficult to be fixed in the pure service aspiration.
Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja: If you can manage to enter the positive, then the negative will remain far away. This is the basic principle. As much as we can make progress towards the positive, automatically the negative will have to leave us. The positive is sādhu-saṅga, sadhu-śāstra-saṅga, association with saints and scriptures. No other thing is needed, only this simple thing: our association with the sādhu. And association with the sādhu means with surrender. So surrender to the positive, and, according to the degree of surrender and confidence in what the sādhu and śāstra say, the negative, the apparently irresistible demands of material desire, will automatically be withdrawn.
Within the positive, there is gradation: devotion to Nārāyaṇa (vaikuṇṭha-bhakti), Rāmacandra, Dvarakeśa, and then Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana. Progress through selection and elimination will continue there. Always this should be our earnest prayer:
viracaya mayi daṇḍaṁ dīna-bandho dayāmī vā
gatir iha na bhavattaḥ kācid anyā mamāsti
nipatatu śata-koṭi-nirbharaṁ vā navāmbhaḥ
tad api kila-payodaḥ stūyate cātakena
(Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī)
Oh Friend of the most needy, whether You chastise me or reward me, in the whole wide world I have no other shelter but You. Whether the thunderbolt strikes or torrents of fresh waters shower down, the cātaka bird, who drinks only the pure falling rainwater, perpetually goes on singing the glories of the raincloud.
Kṛṣṇa is the friend of the fallen: dīna-bandhu dayām vā. He may do anything and everything at His sweet will. Rūpa Gosvāmī prays, “You may make or mar, but I have no alternative but to want Your grace. Everything is tasteless to me, my Lord; please accept me, give me some sort of menial service to your holy feet.” This is what is needed: our earnest and deep prayer towards Him for His grace, for His service, and to have no other alternative. We must be like the cātaka bird who never takes any water, however pure, which has fallen on the earth, but only that from above. With her face to the sky, she waits, praying, “pratik jala, pratik jala—a drop of water, a drop of water.” And water may come so profusely from the sky as to drown her, or a thunderbolt may come and finish her; whatever may come, whatever may happen, she has no other alternative but to pray, “O Lord, give a drop of Your grace. That grace is infinite. For You to give a drop is nothing, yet it may save the whole world. So I have no other alternative.” We must have such Śaraṇāgati, surrender, and such hankering.
We can get much help from His associates, the devotees, the Lord’s own. They are really our friends because in their association, our hankering may be increased. And sajātīyāśaye snigdhe sādhau saṅgaḥ svato vare (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.90): good association for us will be with a sādhu who is of the same line and also is superior to ourselves. In sādhu-saṅga, it is recommended that the sādhu be in the same line, of the same type of hankering and aspiration, as well as hold a superior position in devotion. We should think, “I shall try to throw myself at his disposal, and that will help me to the greatest extent.”
This human life is rare, and it is transient; at any moment I may die. At any moment I may be finished here, and this chance may not occur again. This human life, with its special opportunity and some favourable environment, may not come again. So it is important to perceive the value of our time. We must be particularly conscious of the great value of our present moment.
In Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Parīkṣit Mahārāja asked Śukadeva Gosvāmī, “I have only one more week to live.
In this short time, please give me some instruction so that I may be saved.”
Śukadeva replied, “Oh, one week—that is enough!”
From Śukadeva Gosvāmī came this statement—a wonderful thing! He explained, “O King, we have passed so much time, so many lives, in this world. From time immemorial our existence has not been utilized. But only one second, if properly utilized, is sufficient, Mahārāja. So, try to utilize your time for the best possible purpose. There are so many mountains, so many trees, and they have long lives: what of that? If one is inattentive to one’s own interest, a long life is of no value. But if we can properly understand our situation and our necessity, then only one moment, properly utilized, will produce immense growth in us, and immensely fruitful results.” Then Śukadeva gave the history of Khaṭvāṅga Mahārāja and how he utilized the one moment he had left to live. Khaṭvāṅga Mahārāja asked the Gods, “Will you tell me how long I have to live?”
They replied, “Only one moment.”
“Oh, then you all go. You cannot give me my desired result. Who can give me that?”
The Gods answered, “Only Nārāyaṇa can fulfill your desire.”
And Khaṭvāṅga Mahārāja said, “Then all of you leave me, go!”
And without any reservation, he surrendered to the feet of the Lord; he engaged himself in His service and achieved his desired end:
khaṭvāṅgo nāma rājarṣir
muhūrtāt sarvam utsṛjya
gatavān abhayaṁ harim
The saintly King Khaṭvāṅga, after being informed that the duration of his life would be only a moment more, at once freed himself from all material activities and took shelter of the supreme safety, the Personality of Godhead.
The Lord is specifically mentioned in this verse as Hari: gatavān abhayaṁ harim. Who is Hari? He is abhayam. When we get Him, then all apprehension, all fear and every undesirable thing will be vanquished forever. “Hari” means sac-cid-ānanda—eternal existence, perfect consciousness and the fulfilment of life in ecstatic joy. Mahārāja Khaṭvāṅga achieved all this within one moment!
Devotee: Mahārāja, I am very afraid to write anything about Kṛṣṇa consciousness because I have so many material desires. At the same time, when I go out and speak to people about Kṛṣṇa and the sweetness of Kṛṣṇa, I see how much they enjoy it. So I am thinking, even though I have no qualification, I should continue to write or to preach. Is this correct?
Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja: It is laudable that you want to do good to others. Mahāprabhu has given a general instruction:
yāre dekha, tāre kaha ‘kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa
āmāra ājñāya guru hañā tāra’ ei deśa
(Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya-līlā 7.128)
Wherever you go, whomever you meet, talk with them only about Kṛṣṇa. Deliver this news to anyone and everyone, and new light will come to you, which in turn you are to distribute to others. In this way you will have a dynamic and progressive life, and there will be no shortage of higher backing. If you obey my command, then you will find that I am there, backing you in this work.
This is Mahāprabhu’s general advice. Such distribution is the only necessity in this world, where all are entering the jaws of death at every moment. Mahāprabhu wants His followers to be agents, preaching Kṛṣṇa’s devotion to the public, speaking about the special prospect of the land of Kṛṣṇa, about Vṛndāvana.
So, it is laudable that you want to do good for others in this way; but at the same time, before doing so you must properly try to understand what is ‘good’ and then distribute that. This is no less important. It is very good to treat a patient, but you must know at least what the treatment is. Then you can treat the patient. That will be beneficial. How will one who is not properly adjusted venture to adjust others? First know your place, what is your proper adjustment in relation to the whole, and in that position your duty will be revealed to you. (Divine Aspiration)
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Those in the line of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, and especially those who aspire for the type of prema conceived by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī (rūpānuga bhaktas) must have this same kind of determination. This determination of the bhakta is exactly like that of the cātaka bird. The only water the cātaka bird accepts is the rainwater that falls when the svāti-nakṣatra constellation is prominent in the night sky. The cātaka bird thinks, “I do not care if I die of thirst. I do not even care if I am struck by a thunderbolt! I will only drink the water falling from the svāti-nakṣatra.”
The devotee should think, “I only want deep love for Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. I do not want anything else. I especially yearn to become the maidservant of Śrī Rādhā. May I serve Her under the guidance of Her intimate friends – Her prāṇa-sakhīs and priya-narma-sakhīs – and may I serve Her beloved Śrī Kṛṣṇa under Her direction. I only want this. I do not need any other benediction.”
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