Questions and Answers Between Sri Rajendranath Pal Chaudhuri Mahashaya and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada
(From Dainik Nadiya Prakasa, Janmastami Edition, 1934)
Srila Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada: A materialistic Smarta who is opposed to devotion to Krishna should never be considered as a guru. Only one who is most dear to Krishna – krishna-prestha (beloved of Krishna), can be Gurudeva. Externally it may seem to be the same as being under the influence of a mundane guru (laukika) or hereditary guru (kaulika), but in actuality one is never deceived when he seeks refuge at the lotus feet of the guru who is krishna-prestha.
In the realm of madhura-rati, it is Srimati Varshabhanavi, Krishna’s ananda-dayini-shakti (pleasure-giving potency) who is considered to be the guru-tattva. She has two manifestations – one is Sri Nityananda Prabhu and the other is Sri Gadadhara or Sri Gaurasundara who has taken the heart and halo of Sri Radha. Those who take refuge under Sri Baladeva-gopi Ananga-manjari accept Sri Baladeva Nityananda Prabhu as their guru, and they also accept Sri Varsabhanavi-devi as guru. The reason is that except for allegiance to Sri Varshabhanavi, Sri Ananga-manjari has no separate fulfillment. Many have performed bhajana under the shelter of Sri Jahnava, the shakti of Sri Nityananda.
In raga-marga, allegiance to Sri Gadadhara and the proper understanding of the four types of pure devotional rati found in the associates of Sri Nityananda, Sri Gauridasa Pandita etc. should be clearly understood. The service rendered by Govinda Dasa and Kashishvara etc. exists in accordance to the difference in the manifestation of purna-bhava.
Worshippers in madhura-rasa can be freed from the temporary ego of being a husband in this world by taking shelter of Sri Varshabhanavi, considering Krishna to be their only consort. Through the process of bhajana, those worshippers in vatsalya-rasa will be relieved from the temporary ego of father-son relationships by taking shelter of Sri Nanda-Yashoda and thinking of Krishna as their most affectionate son; through bhajana, those who take shelter of Sridama and Sudama and worship in the mood of sakhya-rasa are delivered from the attraction of transient friends by accepting Krishna as their one and only dearest friend. Those in dasya-rasa who take shelter of Raktaka, Patraka, Chitraka, Vakula etc. will be saved from temporary master-servant relationships by considering Krishna as their only master. Shanta-rasa is the mood of neutrality and this includes the cow-herding stick, buffalo horn, flute etc. Compared to Shanta-rasa, dasya-rasa etc. has more affection.
With the exception of Sri Radha-Govinda, everything else is asat. One must accept the efficacy of the associates of Gauranga by rejecting asat-sanga. When one adopts an ‘opaque face’ to judge guru-tattva and sees that someone only has one eye, someone has a beautiful form, someone is poorly educated, someone is powerful etc. such considerations solely based upon sense perception give rise to confusion in deliberating guru-tattva. Some accept Blavatsky as their guru; some accept Epicurus, while others accept Hegel, Kant etc. as their guru. “Whoever can satisfy my senses is my guru” – rather than following such a path of self-destruction, one should diligently take shelter of the feet of the associates of Sri Gaura. The eternal auspiciousness of the jiva is found in those who speak of nothing except for the worship of Radha-Krishna. If a guru claims to be Radha-Krishna, Nanda-Yashoda or Sridama-Sudama, he must be considered to as extremely laghu asat-sanga (the most degraded type of bad association) and should be rejected immediately. Srila Dasa Goswami states in his Manah-shiksha:
na dharmam nadharmam shruti-gana-niruktam kila kuru vraje radha-krishna-prachura-paricharyam iha tanuh sachi-sunum nandishvara-pati-sutatve guru-varam mukunda-preshthatve smara padam ajasram nanu manah
O Mind, don’t concern yourself with the pious and impious deeds described in the Vedas. Rather, intently serve Sri Sri Radha-Krishna in Vraja. Always remember that the son of Sachi is the son of Maharaja Nanda and that my guru is most dear to Lord Mukunda. (Manah-siksa 2)
There is a belief that one should not perform bhajana of Radha-Krishna while living in this world – give up such a notion and come to Vraja! Vraja means to go; iha asmin jagati tanum vistaraya – the form of that world is forever expanding. Vraja-mandala does not simply consist of soil, water and mud.
The Bodhayana-bhashya was found at a place called Vrijavraron in Kashmir at Sharada-pitha. Based upon this, Ramanuja composed the Sri-Bhashya. Shankara’s commentary attempted to eliminate this scripture from Kashmir. However, whoever is inimical towards the Absolute Reality is incapable of harming Him. May there always be abundant service offered to Sri Radha-Govinda! May there always be the study and teaching of Srimad Bhagavatam!
The works of Chandidasa, the poems of Vidyapati, Sri Jagannatha-vallabha Nataka, Krishna-karnamrita and Sri Gita-govinda – these five books, along with the Srimad Bhagavatam, have delineated service to Sri Radha-Govinda. It is mentioned in Jagannatha-vallabha Nataka that Sriman Mahaprabhu accepted these books with great love. However, only those who have finished the study of the Upanishads, Gita etc. and have achieved the adhikara to study the Tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagavata, and whose adhikara arises for lila-rasa are eligible to even touch this nataka.
Dhira-samira is where the gopis of the general category are attracted by the flute song of Krishna and gather for love-sports at night. Yet the rasa-sthali on the banks of Sri Radha-kunda, where the noon pastimes are enacted, is the topmost. Mathura, the birthplace of Krishna, is higher than Vaikuntha, Vrindavana is higher than Mathura, Govardhana is higher than Vrindavana, and at Govardhana, Radha-kunda is the highest. Gaudiya Vaishnavas never visit Chandra-sarovara at Sakhi-sthali which is near to Govinda-kunda. Amongst the eight yutheshvaris, Chandra, Saibya and others have circulated anti-propaganda about Radha-kunda. The acme of Vrindavana is Radha-kunda, below that is Govardhana. Sriman Mahaprabhu forbade His followers to climb upon Govardhana Hill to take darshana of Gopala. Chandra, the rival gopi of Sri Radhika, wanted that Krishna should be confined in her groves. But Krishna played a trick. He said, “I have all attachment for you. I won’t go to Radha-kunda.” Thus by deluding the group of Chandra, He managed to leave Chandra-sarovara. At present, another sampradaya has taken this place and has adopted a position contrary to that of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. By reading Sri Govinda-lilamrita one can learn about Sri Krishna’s madhyahnika-vihara (noon pastimes) at Sri Radha-kunda. We find in the Srimad Bhagavatam:
ananyaradhito nunam bhagavan harir ishvarah
yan no vihaya govindah prito’yam anayad rahah
Certainly this particular gopi has perfectly worshiped Govinda, the all-powerful Controller, since He was so pleased with Her that He abandoned the rest of us and brought Her to a secluded place. (Bhag. 10.30.28)
This verse indicates the superiority of the place of noon pastimes in comparison to the place of nightly pastimes. When the rasa began at the rasa-sthali, the general gopis began dancing; attracted by the sound of Krishna's flute they gathered and met at the rasa-sthali. They cannot imagine the service attempts rendered by those gopis that have taken shelter under Sri Radhika. Without the shelter of Sri Radhika any attempt to independently attain union with Krishna (sambhoga) goes against the mode of worship (bhajana-pranali) followed by the Gaudiya Vaishnavas.
By understanding that Sriman Mahaprabhu is the combined form of Radha and Krishna, His most surrendered followers acquire the eligibility to realize the esoteric mode of worship (bhajana-rahasya) of Radha-Govinda. Any attempt to worship Krishna independently, abandoning the shelter of Sri Gaurasundara, who is absorbed in the bhava of Sri Varshabhanavi, is not approved by Sri Varshabhanavi Herself. Therefore, this does not bring any genuine happiness to Krishna.
Chandidasa, Vidyapati (the poet of Mithila), Jagannatha-vallabha, Krishna Karanamrta (which was sung on the banks of the Krishna-veni River) and Sri Gita Govinda – these five works express nothing but Krishna.
(At this point in his talk, Srila Prabhupada, in a wonderful state of bhavavesha, or divine emotions, referred to various lyrical verses from those books such as Vidyapati’s tatala saikate, meghair-medurambaram and lalita-lavanga-lata from Gita Govinda and dishatu sharma etc. from Jagannatha-vallabha).
tatala saikate bari bindu sama
suta mita ramani samaje
tohe visari mana, tahe samarpala
ab majhu habo kon kaje
Burning on the sands of a hot beach, I have offered my mind unto the association of sons, friends and wife, yet they are simply like a drop of water. Now what can I do to be relieved of this great misery? (Vidyapati)
meghair meduram-ambaram vana-bhuvah shyamas-tamala-drumair
naktam bhirurayam tvameva tad imam radhe griham prapaya
ittham nanda-nideshatash chalitayoh pratyadhva-kunja-drumam
radha-madhavayor jayanti yamuna-kule rahah kelayah
“The heavens are overcast with thick clouds. The forest seems dark with the hue of the Tamala trees. This young boy Krishna is afraid of the darkness of night. Thus, O Radha, You should take Him home with You!” Thus Their love arose as They passed through the forest. All glories to the pastimes of Radha and Madhava who sport on the banks of the river Yamuna. (Gita-Govinda 1.1)
viharati harir iha sarasa-vasante
nrityati yuvati-janena samah sakhi virahi-janasya durante
The breeze that touches the tender clove creepers gently drifts from the Malaya hills. The arbors resound with the sound of the cuckoo and the humming of honeybees. During this beautiful spring, when love cannot endure separation, Hari is playing and dancing with young damsels. O my friend Radhika – go and meet Him." (Gita-Govinda 1.28)
svaranchita-vipanchika-muraja-venu-sangitakam tri-bhanga-tanu-vallari-valita-valgu-hasolbanam vayasya-kara-talika-ranita-nupurair ujjvalam murari-natanam sada dishatu sharma loka-traye
Accompanied by the musical sounds of the vina, drum and flute, and the tinkling of the Gopis' karatalas and ankle-bells, which reveals His charming smile and the movements of the vine of His charming three-fold bending transcendental form – May the wonderful dancing of Murari eternally bring bliss to the three worlds. (Jagannatha-vallabha Nataka 1.1)
It was the duty of Srila Damodara-svarupa to sing all these songs at all times in keeping with the divine bhava of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
1) Purva-raga – alambana and uddipana.
2) Bhava-pariksha – The type of attachment [anuraga] that shows the deep love that Sri Krishna feels for Sri Radha and the deep love that Sri Radha feels for Sri Krishna.
3) Bhavavesha – The attraction that Sri Krishna feels for Sri Radha and the attraction that Sri Radha feels for Sri Krishna.
4) Abhisara – Union.
5) Sangama – Sri Radha-kunda is found in the village of Arit; at this place Krishna killed the demon Arishtasura. At that time, an elderly gopi by the name of Madanika gifted Sri Radha into the hands of Sri Krishna as a reward for killing Arishta. Then the rasa was performed at this place. A dance filled with divine mellows is known as rasa.
These five sections are there in Jagannatha-vallabha Nataka. These need to be discussed. However, eligibility also needs to be considered. One should take shelter on the banks of this kunda.
(Mahamahopadeshaka Acharyatrika Prabhu [Sri Kunja-vihari Vidyabhushana] further elaborated upon the statements of Srila Prabhupada and continued to analyze the subject matter for Rajen Babu’s understanding)
Acharyatrika Prabhu: While remaining in this world, attached to the material rasa found in relationships with wife and children etc. and being tormented by various types of anarthas, any endeavor to explore transcendental vraja-rasa and any attempt to equate them will simply result in producing vairasya (animosity towards genuine rasa). Thus, it is essential that after surrendering at the lotus of sad-guru, we perform shravana and kirtana according to our eligibility as instructed by Sri Guru.
Prabhupada: Vishnu and vishnu-maya – it is essential to deliberate upon these two tattvas. That which gives illusory pleasure and is measurable by the mind is not Absolute – it is non-Absolute. The only function of the unalloyed soul is to serve the Absolute.
Rajen Babu: Isn't it possible for a person with meager knowledge to become a guru?
Prabhupada: No. There is no place for laghutva within gurutva. One should know that there is not a trace of spirituality when the disciple detects faults such as poverty, meager knowledge and deviations from the proper code of conduct within the guru, and considers the guru to be a recipient of his mercy, while the guru also considers himself most fortunate on receiving a certificate from the disciple.
The sole aim of both is to serve their own senses. An evaluation of the guru and disciple is not based upon such sense-gratification. Worldly ‘gurus’ who teach us how to play the sitar or teach us how to swim, as well as hereditary family gurus who promote our gross and subtle sense gratification are not in the same category as spiritual gurus. It is not the duty of the mahanta-guru to eagerly involve himself in maintaining a mundane wife and children. Various types of laghutva enter into those who do not cultivate Krishna consciousness (krishnanushilana) twenty-four hours a day. Gurudeva does not wait to attain a certificate from his disciple. He has no time to lend his ear to useless talk. He is indifferent to others.
Rajen Babu: If the guru has borrowed money and is heavily in debt, is it proper to help him become free from debt by giving him money?
Prabhupada: He should be considered as fallen if he accepts money from his disciple in order to save his material wealth. The only property of a spiritual guru is spirituality; the only duty of a true disciple is spiritual service. In regards to the financial obligations of this world, the guru is never a debtor. Worldly things are absent in him and cannot touch him. One should not compare the attempts of the sad-guru to collect ingredients for serving Krishna with the guru-bruva’s greed for accumulating material wealth. One cannot be a guru is he is devoured by the desire for material wealth. Maintaining a mundane mentality and the mentality of being a guru, results in a mentality that leads us to hell.
gurusu nara-matir yasya va naraki sah
If one considers the spiritual master as a mundane person, one becomes a resident of hell. (Padma Purana)
Acharyatrika Prabhu: A mundane mentality arises when one considers the mahanta-guru as belonging to the brahmana caste. Sri Bhagavan tells Uddhava:
acharyam mam vijaniyam navamanyeta karhichit
na martya buddhyasuyeta sarva-deva mayo gurum
Know the acharya to be My Self. Never envy the acharya; never blaspheme him or consider him to be an ordinary man. Because the acharya channels the infinite, He is greater than the sum total of all the finite. Thus, he is more important than all the gods. (Bhag.11.17.27)
Prabhupada: A national guru, a guru of a particular caste, a guru who teaches the sitar – they all treat Krishna as an object of their enjoyment. None of them are spiritual gurus.
Acharyatrika Prabhu: The status of a Goswami is simply not restricted to a particular ancestral line. A father performs devout worship – he is said to be a bhakta and he is respected. Yet his son performs no bhajana, so he cannot expect to receive the same respect as his father does. Deliberations on the pure devotional conclusions (shuddha-bhakti-siddhanta) of Mahaprabhu are completely different from the considerations of fallen jivas that are attached to this world.
Rajen Babu: What is the difference between a grihasta and a griha-vrata?
Prabhupada: The difference lies in krishna-bhajana. Bhajana should not be taken as a trivial plaything. Illegible writing is writing and proper writing is also writing. Yet one conveys no meaning and the other has significance. The notion of considering both as equal has been prevented by the words of Vyasa:
archye vishnau shila-dhir gurusu nara-matir
vaishnave jati-buddhir vishnor va vaishnavanam
kali-mala-mathane pada-tirthe 'mbu-buddhih
sri-vishnor namni mantre sakala-kalusha-he
shabda-samanya-buddhir vishnau sarveshvareshe
tad-itara-sama-dhir yasya va naraki sah
One who thinks the Deity to be made of wood or stone, who thinks of the spiritual master as an ordinary man, who thinks the Vaishnava to belong to a certain caste or thinks of charanamrita or Ganges water as ordinary water should be understood to be a resident of hell. (Padma Purana)
It is the Smartas idea to attach greater value to the apparent side. That is their primary duty. We need not take the road to hell by wasting our time in idle and trifling activities in the name of doing bhajana.
Rajen Babu: But those who are grihastas also reside with their wife and children.
Prabhupada: A true grihastha remains fixed in thoughts of performing hari-bhajana. The Vaishnava view should not be confused with the non-Vaishnava view. A five-year-old child may vocalize a drama of Shakespeare, but only an adult can truly appreciate it.
Acharyatrika Prabhu: It is necessary to observe which direction a mundane social guru takes and which direction a spiritual guru takes.
Rajen Babu: What is the harm if one takes instruction from a spiritual guru and takes mantra from a social guru?
Prabhupada: If you go in that direction then you cannot advance towards Vraja – you will not progress; you will remain in one place by dropping your anchor and will never be able to lift it. What will be the benefit for you to go somewhere else? You will be quite satisfied with what you already have.
Rajen Babu: If one does not accept spiritual initiation, is it possible to be aware of any type of spiritual truth (tattva)?
Prabhupada: There will be no shravana, and the opposite result of such beneficial things will be attained instead. The duty of light is to remove darkness. If one remains in the midst of darkness, how will it be possible to attain light by allowing darkness to prevail?
Acharyatrika Prabhu: A mundane guru considers the mantra only as shabda (sound) and not as shabdi (He who is known by sound)
Prabhupada: The mantra is non-different from the shabdi. There is no difference between the aprakrita-shabda (transcendental sound) and shabdi.
griha-vrata – A materialistic householder.
guru-bruva – A guru in name only.
mahanta-guru – The topmost spiritual master.
purna-bhava – Completely immersed in loving mellows for the Lord.
raga-marga – The path of spontaneous devotion.