Srila Sridhar Maharaj: It is laudable that you want to do good to others. Mahaprabhu has given a general instruction:
yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa“Wherever you go, whomever you meet, talk with them only about Krsna. 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.”
amara ajnaya guru hana tara ei desa
(Cc Madhya 7:128)
This is Mahaprabhu’s general advice. Such distribution is the only necessity in this world, where all are entering the jaws of death at every moment. Mahaprabhu wants His followers to be agents to preach Krsna’s devotion to the public, to speak about the special prospect of the land of Krsna, about Vrndavan.
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 go to distribute that. This is no less important. It is very good to treat a patient, but you must know at least what is treatment, then you can go to treat them. That will be beneficial. One who is not properly adjusted, how he will venture to adjust others? First know what is your place, your proper adjustment in relation to the whole; and in that position, it will be revealed to you, shown to you what is your duty.
At the time of the second Great War, a picture of a soldier’s uniform was posted on the wall of the Writers Building in Calcutta, and at the bottom of the poster was written: “Put on this uniform, and the uniform will tell you what to do.” This was the advice there: “Put the soldier’s uniform on and the uniform will tell you what will be your duty”! So, first we must have proper adjustment, we must find our proper position, and then the insinuation will come to us, as to what is our duty.
This is the first stage; it is known as sambandha-jnana to know, who you are. And next, abhideya, the ‘means to the end’: the conception of my goal, my destination how am I to attain that? What are the steps? Our path must go in this way, otherwise the whole attempt will be unsystematic, haphazard. We should understand what is the proper utilisation of our energy, and act accordingly. This is necessary for systematic and substantial progress towards the goal; otherwise, ‘anyone can do anything, as he likes’ and he will have to reap the result of his deeds, accordingly.
First, sambandha-jnana: one approaches the fundamental question, “Who am I? Where am I at present, and where should I be, what should be my position?” It is just as, before going on a journey I must consult the map to see where I am and where I will have to go. Understanding ones position, ones orientation in relation to the destination, is ‘putting on the uniform’; the uniform will tell me “This is your duty”; and I shall have to do that. I shall be ready to do whatever is required of me, for my real progress.
It is not that we should think, “I must be great! I shall be an Alexander, I shall be a Hanuman...” Rather, if you want to be a simple cow-boy, if you want to have the company of Krsna in that way, you will think, “It is so wonderful, to become a cow-boy, to have the duty of a cow-boy!” Rabindranath Tagore composed one song in which he says, “I don’t want to be a famous leader of the country, but rather I want to be a cow-boy in Vrindavan, in the jungle. That is a very happy ideal to me, much more so than being a great leader of the world. A simple thing, a cow-boy under the guidance of Krsna! That aspiration is very happy, very friendly to me.” Such an ambition, simple ambition, is really something great not any worldly achievements. We pray, rather, that the worldly ambition will leave us, that the ghost of such ambition may leave us forever. And to desire the company of the Lord such aspiration, though simple, is also high, very high.
But it is also possible that in a lower stage, from his present position in this world, a person will dedicate his activities to the Lord, and approach Him that way. This is also possible, it is accepted, but it is of a lower stage to approach the Lord through the performance of one’s own work. It is described in Bhagavad-gita:
yatah pravrttir bhutanam,“Man can achieve perfection by performance of the appropriate duties prescribed for him according to his qualification. By the execution of such duties, he worships the Supreme Lord, Who is the Source of all beings and is all-pervading.”
yena sarvam idam tatam
svakarmana tam abhyarcya,
siddhim vindati manavah
As a result of my past karma, I find myself floating somewhere in the material ocean, amongst the three modes of nature; and whatever things, whatever materials I find around me, if I try to give them, to offer them towards the Infinite, I may make progress towards Him, from my lower position.
yat karosi yad asnasi,“O Kaunteya, whatever your action whether scriptural or general, whatever you eat, what you offer in sacrifice, whatever you donate in charity, and any vow you keep do everything as an offering unto Me.”
yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kurusva mad arpanam
To connect all of one’s activities with the Lord by offering them to Him, and to go on with one’s duty in this way, one who cannot understand the higher things, higher devotion, may begin his march to the Absolute from his present position.
But the sloka at the conclusion of Bhagavad-gita calls us:
sarva-dharman parityajya“Totally abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender exclusively unto Me. I will deliver you from all kinds of sinful reactions, so do not fear.”
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
This is the conclusion of Bhagavad-gita: the clarion call, to surrender. In his commentary on Sri Gita, Sri Bala Gangadhara Tilak has noted: “In this last sloka, Bhagavan Sri Krsnacandra has served nectar, in a golden pot: ‘Wherever you are, leave your duty, your post, your place of duty, and immediately come to Me. Everything will be fulfilled; complete fulfillment will come to you. If you come to Me, the whole fulfillment of your life will come to you. It does not matter where you are posted at present; it matters little. You may be a soldier, you may be a priest, you may be a dacoit anyone! But if you leave your position and come to My feet, your aspiration will be perfectly fulfilled.’”
This is Mahaprabhu’s call, the call of Gauranga: with a flood of tears, Gauranga is dancing, and appealing to the people, begging the people, “Take the Name of Krsna!”
When Mahaprabhu decided to take sannyasa, His devotees did not know that He was going away, that He was leaving Navadwip forever. But the night before He left, He attracted many of the devotees to come to see Him for the last time; as if intuitively, they were drawn to Him, and they flocked together, crowded together at His house. Everyone brought for Him a garland; and Mahaprabhu was giving everyone, all His devotees, those garlands from around His own neck, and ordering them: “When you go from here, speak only of Krsna.”
apana galara mala sabakara diya“I advise all of you, my friends, with this garland: take the Name of Krsna! While eating, while taking rest, while waking, always take the Name of Krsna. This is My last advice, My earnest entreaty to you all: take the Name of Krsna. Whatever you may be engaged in, always think of Krsna and call His Name aloud. This is My last appeal to you all just try to utilise all your time taking the Name of Krsna. By any means, try to the utmost to come to Krsna. There is no other necessity. This is My heartfelt appeal to you, O My friends.”
ajna karena gaura-hari krsna kaha giya
ki bhojane ki sayane kiba jagarane
aharnisa cinta krsna boloho vadane
(Chaitanya Bhagavat, Madhya 28,25,26)
In our time also, we have seen that our Guru Maharaj Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur also preached with so much force, so much urgency. Once he was present at a mahotsava, a big festival, in Mayapur. When the celebration was over, Guru Maharaj was sitting in a canvas chair on the verandah of his room; many people were coming before him, offering him obeisances, and then leaving for their homes. I was always very eager to hear him, and I was present at that time. He was saying, “Don’t cheat me, you people.” I thought, “Why does he say that?
Where is the question of cheating him? Everyone was invited to this festival, they came, and now they are leaving. What is his point, about cheating?” But the next thing he said was: “You all came with the understanding that you will engage yourselves in the service of Krsna, and so I have entered into some relationship with you. And now, after attending this ceremony only as a show, a fashion you are going home to engage yourselves in worldly affairs. But your assurance to me was that you would all serve Krsna...” In this way he showed some disappointment.
Then he continued, “You may say, ‘O, there will only be a little delay, I have got some important business, and after finishing that, I shall come back and join you, as soon as possible’; but I say, no, no! Even if you tell me there is a fire, and after extinguishing the fire then you will return, then I say, that is also not necessary. There is no necessity of extinguishing the fire. It may burn the whole world it does not do any harm to you, the smallest harm to you. You do not lose anything; rather, you will be saved if that world, burnt world, gets out of your mind. All your inner necessities are met only in the holy feet of Krsna.
None can satisfy your inner hankering but Krsna, akhila rasamrta-murtih, the reservoir of all sweetness all the rasa, everything sweet you are aspiring for, or that you may ever aspire for all is in His holy feet. And all this world, let it be dissolved to ‘zero’; it can’t have any affect on you, you are not affected by that at all. Rather if the whole thing disappears, vanishes, if it is burnt to ashes, you may be saved, saved from that misconception.” But it is not so easy to burn the world of your present enjoying conception to ashes; it is very hard to burn that world to the finish! Like a witch, it is catching you.
Student: Yes, yes.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: The solution lies in the service of Gauranga, Mahaprabhu. As much as we can give ourselves to the holy feet of Sri Gauranga, automatically we shall find we are in the service of Radharani. She is the highest negative potency, which can draw the maximum rasa from the positive Krsna, Reality the Beautiful. Rasa-raj and maha-bhava: Krsna is rasa-raj, full of ecstasy, infinite ecstasy; and Radharani, maha-bhava She draws out that ecstasy, for Herself and for the world. In Caitanya-caritamrta, Ramananda Raya answers Mahaprabhu:
sukha-rupa krsna kare sukha asvadana“Lord Krsna tastes all kinds of transcendental happiness, although He Himself is happiness personified. The pleasure relished by His pure devotees is also manifested by His pleasure potency (hladini-sakti ).”
bhakta-gane sukha dite ‘hladini’ karana
(Caitanya caritamrta, Madhya 8,159)
Radharani represents a particular potency, known as hladini. She is the main ‘extracting machine’ of that rasa from Krsna, and She distributes it to the world outside. The highest quality of rasa, of ecstasy, is drawn by Her, from that dynamo of all rasa, Krsna, and is spread outside, distributed to others outside. It is due only to Her, that others may hope to have the taste of any of that transcendental juice.
As much as we surrender to Sri Gauranga, as much as we are percolated by His energy, His instruction, automatically we shall find that we are placed in that highest position, in Her divine service. Otherwise, such a thing is very, very difficult to attain by direct approach. Many sorts of misgivings will come and pollute us. But if under proper guidance we go through, we can pass through, the instructions of Sri Gauranga, then our approach to that highest position of service will be the easiest, and our gain will be of the maximum degree, and of the very purest character. Gauranga is the Ocean of Mercy, and Kulia, where Sri Caitanya Saraswat Math now stands, is called aparadha-bhanjana-patha, the place where Gauranga gave general absolution to all the sinners. Anyone who came for His mercy here, it was granted:
kulia-gramete asi sri-krsna-caitanyaAfter five years of His sannyasa, when Mahaprabhu came back just once to visit Navadwip, He came to this place; and at that time, He was the most liberal in giving His highest mercy to all the most desirable service, service of the sweetest type, as found in Vrndavan. And after this, He left Navadwip, never to return.
hena nahi, ya’ re prabhu na karila dhanya
(Caitanya Bhagavat, Antya 3,541)
Student: You have given such a high standard, pure standard, for us to follow...
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: If you feel that, then, I think, you are fortunate. And if I can know, if I am able to sincerely know such things, to have a touch of such type of high and divine knowledge, if I am able to receive all these things of such a standard from my Guru Maharaj, then I consider myself also fortunate, very fortunate.
In Manu-samhita is given the answer to the question “What is dharma?”:
vidvabhih sevitah sadbhir, nityam advesa-ragibhihThose who are well versed in revealed scriptures, they know, and they serve, the real dharma, real religion. And what should be the symptoms of those sadhus? They are established in revealed truth; and they themselves are approved, by the true sadhus.
hrdayenabhyanujnato, yo dharmas tam nibhodhata
Then who is sadhu? That is told in this verse: advesa-ragibhih, who has got no sympathy for, or apathy, aversion to, all the achievements we are in the midst of in this world. This must be a symptom of the sadhu; they can know, and from them, we may know, what is dharma.
Also, hrdayenabhyanujnato, the evidence of the heart: the heart will approve, from its innermost quarter: “Yes! Here I am getting satisfaction…” That is also evidence, proof, of the real standard of dharma, of religion. The heart’s response: “Yes, this is what I am searching for; I am searching for such things…” The heart will say this, from within.
Prahlada Maharaj advises:
na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnumHe says that we are making too much of the covering of reality, we are devoting our minds to the external coating bahir-artha-maninah but we do not dive deep into the eternal substance. If only we were to dive deep into reality, there we would find Visnu. The most peaceful substance is within, but it is covered, just as milk is covered by cream, and we are making much of that cover. The real substance is within, just as fruit is covered by its skin. What we experience at present is the cover, the skin, and we are making much of that, ignoring the very substance which the cover is protecting.
durasaya ye bahir-artha-maninah
ndha yathandhair upaniyamanas
te ‘pisa-tantryam uru-damni baddhah
(Srimad Bhagavatam 7,5,31)
So, when we get these things from our Gurudev, and from Mahaprabhu, we think “Oh, yes! These are heart-satisfying things.” And we will find such things through progressively eliminating the external things, eliminating them all. Progress means this process of elimination and acceptance: elimination of the lower, and acceptance of the higher. It is progressive, and dynamic; at each stage of our progress we will find, “Yes, this is what I am really searching for” further, and further, progressively.
Student: Was it here in this area, in Kulia, that Jagai and Madhai were forgiven?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: No, that was on the other side of the Ganges. Some say that Jagai and Madhai were absolved just near here, at Haritolla; but we are to understand, from Bhaktivinode Thakur, that it was on the other side, in Mayapur.