The following is a morning walk discussion with Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja in Badger, California on June 17, 2006


Devotee: Because of Gurudeva, by his kind mercy, we are able to receive Kṛṣṇa consciousness. At the time of death, should we think about Gurudeva or should we think about Kṛṣṇa?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: At the time of death, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Gurudeva and the entire world are there in Kṛṣṇa. Do you understand? The whole world, Gurudeva, all Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s associates, and everything else are in Kṛṣṇa.

Remember Śrī Kṛṣṇa but also His power – both the gopīs and Śrīmatī Rādhikā. This was told to us by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī.

kṛṣṇaṁ smaran janaṁ cāsya
preṣṭhaṁ nija-samīhitam
tat-tat-kathā-rataś cāsau
kuryād vāsaṁ vraje sadā

(Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.160)

[“The devotee should always think of Kṛṣṇa within himself and should choose a very dear devotee who is a servitor of Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana. One should constantly engage in topics about that servitor and his loving relationship with Kṛṣṇa, and one should live in Vṛndāvana. If one is physically unable to go to Vṛndāvana, he should mentally live there.”]

Remember Śrī Kṛṣṇa, His associates and Śrī Vṛndāvana.

(Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja and the devotees continue walking & chanting)

Devotee: It is stated in the scripture:

yasya deve parā bhaktir
yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ
prakāśante mahātmanaḥ

(Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.23)

[“Unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master, all the imports of Vedic knowledge are automatically revealed.”]

Kṛṣṇa’s holy name is non-different from Kṛṣṇa. So, does it follow that we should have the same faith in the name of Gurudeva?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You can, but here in this verse, “Yyasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau,” this has been told for the Supreme Lord and Guru. The holy name is not mentioned here, but you should always chant with great attraction, affection, and attachment to it.

Vrajanātha dāsa: Gurudeva, he is saying that since Kṛṣṇa’s holy name is non-different from Kṛṣṇa, can we think of ‘deve‘ (God) as ‘nāma‘ (His name)?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You can think in that way, but it is not stated in this verse.

Devotee: How can we increase our faith in Guru and Kṛṣṇa?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I am telling so much – so much – about this in my classes. First, become detached. Be in the renounced order (sannyāsa). Not only be in the renounced order, but follow what I am telling in these classes (June 14 – 18, 2006). Remember all the examples (of the twenty-four śikṣā-gurus) that were told by Dattātreya. Give up everything – all worldly desires for wife, children and everything else. Give your heart, mind and everything you possess to Guru and Kṛṣṇa. Then everything will be alright.

Jayanta-kṛṣṇa dāsa: Some have the opinion that there is always prema in the jīva, and some say there is initially no prema, but the seed or potentiality to develop and receive prema is there. What is the established philosophical truth?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Prema is there but like a seed.

Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Not manifested, but in a latent position.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Just as everything about a tree is present in its seed – the tree, its flowers, its leaves and everything else – so kṛṣṇa-prema is present in the soul of the living entity, but in a latent position. That prema will first appear as śraddhā (initial faith), then niṣṭha (firm faith), then ruci (taste), and in this way it will gradually grow.

Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Kṛṣṇa says in the Gītā:

yānti deva-vratā devān
pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā
yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām

(Bhagavad-gītā 9.25)

[Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship the ancestors go to the ancestors; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; and those who worship Me will live with Me.]

Here, Kṛṣṇa is indicating that one goes to the place of the object of one’s worship. So if someone worships a pure devotee of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, what will be his result? Suppose his bhakti towards Śrī Kṛṣṇa is not very developed.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Sometimes, the mercy of sādhu-saṅga (association with a self-realized soul) is superior to the mercy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. I have told you that it is the madhyama-adhikārī (intermediate devotee) who comes to us. He realizes our position – that we are suffering. Lord Kṛṣṇa is not aware of this because He is always drowning in the ocean of prema. The uttama-bhāgavata (topmost devotee) also does not know whether or not we are suffering. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī will not be aware. However, a madhyama-adhikārī – Gurudeva – is here in this world. He knows about us, and his sādhu-saṅga is for us.

Devotee: The residents of Goloka have no consciousness towards the suffering of the jīvas (living entities). You said that only a madhyama-adhikārī can understand the suffering of the jīvas in the material world. Can we then understand that the uttama-bhāgavata associates (nitya-siddhas) come here for preaching, and here he acts like a madhyama devotee and is aware of our suffering? Or do only sādhana-siddha or kṛpā-siddha devotees come here from the spiritual world to act like madhyama-adhikārīs?*

Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmīpāda is an eternal associate in Goloka-Vṛndāvana. Did he not come? Did Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmīpāda not come? Did they not preach here?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They may come when Lord Kṛṣṇa comes, and sometimes Kṛṣṇa sends them, or Śrīmatī Rādhikā sends them. She sent Her associate Gopa-kumāra.

An example of a sādhana-siddha devotee is Śrī Nārada Gosvāmī. He had realized the nature of this world after some births, and now he has become Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s associate. So he knows he can come and help us. Otherwise, how could he have initiated Dhruva, Prahlāda, Vālmīki, Vyāsa, and so many others?

Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa dāsa: So should the disciple see Śrī Guru as nitya-siddha, sādhana-siddha or kṛpā-siddha?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They should think he is siddha – a nitya parikara (eternal associate). Even if he is madhyama-adhikārī, the disciple should regard him as he regards Kṛṣṇa: yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau. Always remember this.

Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Otherwise they cannot advance.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If you see like this, Kṛṣṇa will help you.

Devotee: Lord Kṛṣṇa and His paraphernalia are non-different. He and His mahā-prasāda are non-different. Yet, I have heard that kṛṣṇa-prasādam can become affected by a living entity’s karma or consciousness. How is it possible? For example, I’ve heard that if we eat prasādam from the plate of another conditioned soul, we can be affected by the second person’s karma or consciousness. How is that possible that prasāda – which is Kṛṣṇa Himself – can be contaminated in that way?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Padmanābha, what is your idea about what he is saying?

Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja:

mahā-prasāde govinde 
nāma-brahmaṇi vaiṣṇave
sv-alpa-puṇyavatāṁ rājan 
viśvāso naiva jāyate


[“Persons who are not very highly elevated in pious activities cannot believe in the remnants of food [prasādam] of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, nor in Govinda, the holy name of the Lord, nor in the Vaiṣṇavas”]

If a person doesn’t have enough svalpa-puṇya, meaning pious activities from previous lives, he will not have full faith in mahā-prasādam. In Jagannātha Purī, devotees understand there that Lord Jagannātha’s mahā-prasādam is completely transcendental, even if it is touched by the mouth of a dog and it falls on the ground. If a person properly understands mahā-prasādam, he will not hesitate to eat those remnants. It depends on the person’s faith.

I can give an example. There was a disciple of our Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja who liked to eat mahā-prasādam that was three or four days old. He didn’t want to throw anything away. Not only that, but he was also forcing the other devotees to eat it. He wrote a letter about this to Prabhupāda and Prabhupāda replied that it is a matter of faith. Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī had the highest faith. He was taking the mahā-prasādam that even the cows wouldn’t eat because it was so rotten. He was washing it and eating that, but he was tasting it as nectar. In fact, Mahāprabhu Himself came and stole that from his hand, and He was overwhelmed in ecstasy by eating it. So it depends on the person’s actual deep faith.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Another example is Śrī Nārada Ṛṣi. In his previous birth, he took the prasādam remnants of the four Kumāras with their permission – from their leaf plates – and after that, all his impurities were washed away. He said, “I received rati (transcendental ecstasy) at once.”

Sugata dāsa: During our Prabhupāda’s time, we had farm projects all over the country. He wanted us not only to live in our āśrama but to grow our food, make our cloth and use bullock carts instead of cars and tractors. That was a long time ago, and things have changed. What is your vision for the New Vraja village community in the long run? Do you want the devotees there to have a modern life with modern jobs and modern things, or should they go back to simple, old village life and not be dependent on Western civilization?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: A bullock cart will not do. You cannot preach here and there by bullock cart. If Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja and I would have used only bullock carts, could we have come?

Devotees: No

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura also said that we should take advantage of what the scientists are inventing and engage those things in preaching.

Sugata dāsa: Yes, but this is a different thing. Our Śrīla Prabhupāda said the same thing you are saying – to use things for Kṛṣṇa. But he also had a long-term vision of communities engaging in an old, traditional lifestyle, with activities like making one’s food, cloth and milk and being self-sufficient.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: How much will you do? When will you do bhajana if you cultivate the field to grow grains and make cloth?

Sugata dāsa: Śrīla Mahārāja, sometimes at Gītā-nagarī where I did service, our bhajana was farming – from four in the morning until twelve midnight. But for our Śrīla Prabhupāda this was preaching. It was daivī-varnāśrama. This was his preaching.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He did this for those who were not so qualified. It was for them.

Sugata dāsa: Yes, this is the thing.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They can go to the gṛhastha-āśrama (they can be householders), they can cultivate the land, they can make their cloth, and they can perform other activities of that nature. But when they will advance by sādhu-saṅga, they will think that this is a waste of time. We should not waste a moment. It is better to beg for something and spend the entire day like Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī.

Sugata dāsa: So preaching is the essence; preaching is the important thing.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes.

Devotee: My parents are both Prabhupāda’s disciples, and it seems that the older they get, the further they seem removed from Kṛṣṇa. I was wondering if there is something you can tell me – something that I can do to help them come back.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: This is due to a lack of sādhu-saṅga – association with pure devotees. If your parents would have come here, they would have been inspired again. I think it will be best if they associate with sādhus and hear hari-kathā. You can make arrangements that sādhus may go to your house and speak hari-kathā. Or, your parents can go to that place where hari-kathā is going on.

Rasasindhu dāsa: We have heard from you about many renounced persons, including Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. When young Raghunātha wanted to leave his family, Mahāprabhu told him, “Nā hao vātula – don’t be crazy.” And then He said, “Krame krame pāya loka bhava-sindhu-kūla.”

Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja:

“sthira hañā ghare yāo, nā hao vātula
krame krame pāya loka bhava-sindhu-kūla

(Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 16.237)

[Be patient and return home. Don’t be a crazy fellow. By and by, you will be able to cross the ocean of material existence.]

Rasasindhu dāsa: It seems that the path of bhakti is very gradual and slow, but we see that Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī left his family very soon – a short time after receiving Mahāprabhu’s instructions. How is it possible?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He is a nitya-siddha parikara, an eternal associate of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. He is eternally Rati-mañjarī, so for him, it was possible. Mahāprabhu also left His own house and everything connected with it. He is the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself. What is possible for the Lord and His pure devotee is not possible for you and others.

Mahāprabhu had told him, “First be qualified, and then give up material activities.” This is the purpose of varnāśrama. If you have given up household life without being qualified to do so, you will again remember the same thing and return there. So we should first be qualified and then give up the gṛhastha-āśrama. Be qualified while in [the] gṛhastha-āśrama. All the verses in Śrī Upadeśāmṛta have been told for gṛhasthas. After practising bhakti according to the verses therein, you will become renounced. This is the process.

vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ
jihvā-vegam udaropastha-vegam
etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ
sarvām apīmāṁ pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt

(Śrī Upadeśāmṛta, verse 1)

[“A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.”]

Śrīpāda Śrautī Mahārāja: Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura said that if we put our Gurudeva in our heart, have him travelling and walking and sitting there, then the Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear there also. So what is the process of putting Guru in the heart?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Gurudeva is always with you. So you can…

Śrīpāda Śrautī Mahārāja: But he is outside.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It is very hard to keep Kṛṣṇa in the heart because we have not seen Him. We have never had His association. We are simply serving Him according to what we know from Gurudeva. But Gurudeva is personally coming to you. You see him walking…

Śrīpāda Śrautī Mahārāja: How can we put Guru in the heart? Once, when I had just arrived from Europe to attend your Vyāsa-pūjā festival in Alachua, I opened the door of your car. I was very happy and told you, “Oh Gurudeva, you see? I have come to see you.” And you said, “You should put me in your heart.”

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes

Śrīpāda Śrautī Mahārāja: So how to do it?

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You can always remember him, his mercy and his glorification. I can remember how glorious my Gurudeva was. I can continually remember his qualities.

Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Suppose Gurudeva gives sannyāsa to some person, knowing that the person was not so qualified, but he wanted to utilize the person for his mission. An example of this is our Śrīla Prabhupāda A.C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja. He gave sannyāsa to so many persons, knowing that they were not qualified.

He even said on one occasion, “I am giving you sannyāsa even though you are unqualified. Actually, it is like in wartime. I am giving you a battle commission. I am giving you this, and it is possible that in the future, you may fall down.” And then our Prabhupāda said, “But it will be a glorious death.” On the battlefield, when a soldier dies, it is a glorious death because he tried. Now, some people are using this argument and saying, “Oh, Gurudeva gave sannyāsa to this person, and then he fell down. Since he wasn’t qualified, there was no harm in falling down and giving up his sannyāsa.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No, no, no. This is not good. You should not think like this. Gurudeva has kindly and mercifully given that person a chance, and that person should utilize the opportunity. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu also gave a chance without a person’s qualification, and Gurudeva sometimes does this. Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja gave sannyāsa to so many. He knew that most of them were not qualified, and that is why he did not give any of them Vedic sannyāsa names.

* In Vaiṣṇava philosophy there are three ways for perfection — namely sādhana-siddha, perfection attained by executing devotional service according to the rules and regulations, nitya-siddha, eternal perfection attained by never forgetting Kṛṣṇa at any time, and kṛpā-siddha, perfection attained by the mercy of the spiritual master or another Vaiṣṇava. Kavirāja Gosvāmī here stresses kṛpā-siddha, perfection by the mercy of superior authorities. This mercy does not depend on the qualifications of a devotee. By such mercy, even if a devotee is dumb he can speak or write to glorify the Lord splendidly, even if lame he can cross mountains, and even if blind he can see the stars in the sky. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 8.5, Purport)


Image(s) made possible by, and/or
Unless indicated differently, all verse translations and quotes are from the books by Śrīla Prabhupāda (

error: Content is protected !!