by Çréla Saccidänanda Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura
[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font (available here)
for better transliteration of Sanskrit into English]
In the depths of jïäna, vairägya and so on, and behind
all religion, lies the desire for honour and distinction
To the degree that we endeavour to develop ourselves spiritually, to become religious, to maintain a renounced life, and to deliberate on and discuss jïäna, we desire our own pratiñöhä (honour and distinction). This desire contaminates our hearts and pollutes our characters. Although we make a great effort to control lust, anger, greed, illusion and envy, and although we perform severe austerities to control the senses, concealed within our hearts the desire for pratiñöhä, in the form of a wild infant animal, continues to grow.
I learn añöäìga-yoga with a desire to become a famous yogé. If anyone one tells me that my yoga lessons are merely a show, I burn in anger. I discuss and deliberate upon many çästras in my endeavour to merge into brahma. If I hear someone say that this process is fruitless, my mind becomes disturbed and I condemn the accuser. We learn ten kinds of dharma, such as control of the mind and the external senses, austerity and truthfulness, and in carrying out our worldly activities we perform daily obligatory religious duties (nitya-karma) and occasional religious duties (naimittika-karma). If someone says that karma-käëòa is simply useless labour, my mind suffers; I become unhappy because my pratiñöhä is being made to appear insignificant.
Those who desire bhukti and mukti are restless and
slaves of the desire for pratiñöhä
When the karmé, jïäni, yogé and so on search in hope of attaining the fruit of enjoyment and liberation, how can they have any peace? They cannot relinquish the desire for pratiñöhä. This desire is very insignificant, however, in those Vaiñëavas who have no thirst at all for bhukti and mukti.
Present-day Vaiñëava äcäryas desire pratiñöhä
and are intolerant
Nowadays, the äcäryas of vaiñëava-dharma cannot tolerate the slightest disrespect. From the outset,they
endeavour to enhance their dignity by placing their feet on the heads of all. It is not unreasonable for an
äcärya to receive respect from others. But if he courts that respect for himself, where is his real
value? Furthermore, he becomes angry with someone who does not offer him säñöäìga-daëdavat
praëämas, full prostrated obeisances. Such anger is abominable. Well-mannered people respect an
äcärya by offering him a separate seat. This is correct and in accordance with çästra, but if the äcärya is angered by someone else sitting on that seat, it is most unfortunate. All such behaviour solely arises from the desire for pratiñöhä.
It is extremely difficult to give up the desire for
Many Vaiñëavas have given up their homes and accepted the dress of a renunciant. Peace-loving people who consider that householders have the greatest desire for pratiñöhä leave their homes and accept the dress of renunciants. In that renounced situation, however, pratiñöhä arises with an even greater intensity than before! If one who has accepted the dress of a renunciant is not offered respect, he becomes particularly angry. If the desire for pratiñöhä is present in householder Vaiñëavas and Vaiñëavas in the renounced order, what can be said of others?
The desire for pratiñöhä is not removed without kåñëa-sevä
When we collect and contemplate upon the instructions of great people, we understand that as long as we cannot give up the desire for pratiñöhä, we cannot consider ourselves Vaiñëavas. Real humility is not found in mere words. I say that I am not worthy of being the servant of a servant of the Vaiñëavas, but all the while within my mind I think that anyone hearing me say this will glorify me,
thinking me a pure Vaiñëava. Alas! The desire for pratiñöhä does not want to abandon us. For this reason the best of Vaiñëavas, Çréla Raghunätha däsa Gosvämé, says:
pratiñöhäçä dhåñöä çvapaca-ramaëé me hådi naöet
kathaà sädhuù-premä spåçati çucir etan nanu manaù
sadä tvaà sevasva prabhu-dayita-sämantam atulaà
yathä täà niñkäçya tvaritam iha taà veçayati saù
How will my heart touch this pure sädhu-prema as long as the shameless dog-eating lady in the form of pratiñöhä dances there? O mind! You should therefore serve those pure Vaiñëavas who are the incomparable commanders of the army of your master, Çré Kåñëa. They will then remove that dog-eating lady from the temple of your heart and allow prema to enter. (Çré Manaù-çikñä 7)
Extinction of the desire for pratiñöhä in the association of viçuddha Vaiñëavas
What can we gather from the words of this mahäjana, Çréla Raghunätha däsa Gosvämé? We understand that the desire for pratiñöhä can never be removed by studying and discussing çästra, by hearing instructions from those who have not attained prema, nor by practising various bodily processes of yoga. It can only be removed by associating with and serving viçuddha Vaiñëavas. Having searched for and found such Vaiñëavas, it is our ultimate goal to associate with and serve them.
To accept sat-saìga is non-different from giving up asat-saìga
By associating with Vaiñëavas, saintliness (sädhutä) will manifest in our hearts and sinfulness will be completely removed. When our hearts are clean, a ray from the sun of prema will enter. This ray, which enriches our hearts with prema, comes from the heart of a saintly Vaiñëava. This is the only way to attain prema and give up pratiñöhä. It is the natural method to become a sädhu. All other approaches are fruitless labour. In conclusion, attaining one’s eternal transcendental nature is non-different from removing one’s temporary material nature.