What is Real Bhakti? – 26 Jan 1997 Kuala Lumpur
Srila Gurudeva: I am speaking here on bhakti. What is bhakti? For this I have taken one sloka of Srila Rupa Goswamipada, from his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. What I have explained in my evening class and yesterday, Govinda Bhakta Prabhu will now explain the main substance of what I told in a very easy language that all can understand.
anyabilasita sunyam jnana karmadi anavrtam
anukulyena krsnanusilanam bhaktir uttama
Rupa Goswami told that anyone has not a little attachment with the world, no desire at all, any worldly desire, and on the other hand, if he has no Krsna prema, no affection for Krsna, then what will it be? It will be like zero. Try to understand. If you have no worldly desires. If you have no worldly desires at all, but yet you have no desire to serve Krsna, it will be like zero. This is called jnana. Annihilation of oneself In God. Vaisnavas don’t want this. So, we should be careful about this. Bhakti has so many stages. It may be that in the first stage of bhakti, this sloka is not fully sweet. It is not so applicable. Meaning we have something of bhakti but fully. This is the first earlier stage. In that stage, it will not be called uttama-bhakti, pure bhakti. Our bhakti in this stage is not pure. It is mixed with so many worldly desires, so much jnana, karma and other things. Our heart is not improved, but you should try to develop in the association of pure Vaisnavas. Otherwise, you cannot improve.
Rupa Goswamipada is telling that only one desire should be there. Otherwise you are chanting Krsna, serving Krsna, and remembering Krsna. But yet you are wanting something from Krsna. “I want a child. I have no child. I want a beautiful wife. I want a handsome husband. I want a palatial residence. I want so many things.” If you are chanting Krsna and still having these desires then bhakti is not pure bhakti, but in beginning it may be like so, but you will have to reform it. Only a desire for pure-bhakti should be there. O Krsna, I don’t want anything. I am satisfied but all the things you have given to me; child, wealth, reputation. And if you have not given anything, still I am satisfied. I only want Your bhakti, to serve You. But if it is not so, don’t be hopeless. Gradually it will come. From any seed, comes a sprout, then leaves, branches, followed by more branches and more leaves. Then flowers will blossom and finally the fruit will come.
So we should try to develop. On the other hand, we should always try that worldly desire should not come. Second thing is that if you want to make your bhakti pure then be careful with karma, jnana, yoga, tapasya and other things. Remember, you should try to see that without karma we cannot be alive. You will have to do something. If you give up everything, then you must die. You will have to breathe, see with your eyes and hear with your ears. If you will not drink water you will die. So karma is essential. Karma means activities that are essential for your [inaudible 8:54], try to make your activities under the guidance of bhakti. They should be for bhakti. Otherwise your bhakti will be hampered.
Do you know Sanatana Goswami? He was the elder brother of Sanatana Goswami. He was the prime minister of India at that time. He was managing everything there as a prime minister. The king used to respect him so much and say, “I don’t know anything about management of four kingdoms, it is you who are doing so.” When Sanatana Goswami met Mahaprabhu with Rupa Goswami, he was totally changed. The king saw that he was going to give up his position, so he called Santana Goswami and asked, “Why are you not taking care of the management of these kingdoms? If you are not looking after them, everything will be ruined. So you should look after.” Sanatana Goswami replied, “I am not feeling well. I am ill. You should try to choose another person to be prime minister. I cannot do.” “Why?” asked the king. “You are so healthy. You are reading Bhagavtam with many renounced Vaisnavas and you are not looking after my kingdom?” Sanatana Goswami said, “I cannot do it.”
The king then took him into jail and he became a prisoner, and went to invade Kalinga in Orissa, where Jagannatha is. Sanatana Goswami called the jailer and in front of him, he gave five thousand golden coins, which was worth so much. The jailer told, “What can I do? The king will punish me.” Sanatana Goswami brought five thousand more gold coins before the prison guard, who said, “This is not a small amount. With this I can manage my whole life if the king comes and rejects me. So, I should take it.” Sanatana Goswami then left and headed to Vrindavan because He knew Caitanya Mahaprabhu was in Vrindavan. There was a very dense jungle and there, there were so many dacoits. They knew astrology. They saw that he was a prime minister and he has some gold coins with him. They pursued him and brought him to a very solitary place where the leader of dacoits was there. They gave him very delicious food and respected him so much. Sanatana Goswami was very disturbed. He thought, “Why are they honoring me so much? There is some mystery” He then called his servant and asked, “Ishan, do you have anything with you?” “Yes.” Ishan replied. “I have six golden coins.”
Sanatana Goswami then said, “That is like death. Give them up at once.” Ishan gave up the six coins and Sanatana Goswami gave them to the dacoit leader. The dacoit began to smile, “Krsna has served both you and I.” “If you had not given these coins, I would have slaughtered you. Your servant has one more coin though, but no harm. What do you want?” “I want to go to Vrindavan to become a monk. You should help and take me out of this forest and guide me to towards the way of Vrindavan.” The dacoit was so pleased and sent a person to guide them. When they crossed the forest, Sanatana Goswami asked his servant, “Ishan, do you have anything more with you?” Ishan said, “Yes, I have one more golden coin.” “Oh, you are so attracted to this golden coin!” Ishan replied, “It is not for me, it is for you.” Sanatana Goswami then said, “I don’t want it. You believe in this golden coin, but not in Krsna, not in God. I don’t want anything. With the golden coin you should return to your home. You are not qualified to be with me.” When we go to do bhajan, we deposit so much money in the bank, whether I am in the renounced order, brahmacari or sannyasi, or grhasta ashram. But, grhastas can have something. But those who have given up everything, yet they are collecting money, it is against bhakti. They have no faith in Krsna. So we must have faith. Sanatana Goswami told Ishan, “Go from here. Go to your home.” He gave up that money and alone, being previously a prime minister, was in worn and torn clothes. He went to Kasi and met with Mahaprabhu. Caitanya Mahaprabhu knew this fact.
He at once called someone to “Go outside. At the door there is a saint Vaisnava there.” The person went there and saw there was a Muslim, a fakir outside the door, who wore a long dress, had long hair and was in a very wretched condition. The devotee returned and told, “I have not see any bhakta or Vaisnava.” Mahaprabhu then replied, “No. You should call anyone who is standing there.” Then he called the man at the door, “Mahaprabhu is calling you.” Caitanya Mahaprabhu ran after him when he saw him. Tears were coming from His eyes. He chanted “Ha Krsna! Ha Krsna!” and He embraced Sanatana Goswami in that state. Sanatana Goswami was running from this and saying “Don’t touch Me Prabhu. I am a Mohammaden. I am a rotten person. I have no bhakti at all. Please do not touch me, otherwise you will become impure.” Caitanya Mahaprabhu told, “I am touching you to become pure. I am not pure, but you are pure.” This is the etiquette of Vaisnavas. We should behave like this to any Vaisnava. “I don’t want to see him. Don’t go to him.” You should not behave like this. If a man is chanting “Hare Krsna” even one time a day, he should be honored, if he is always chanting we should do sastanga pranam and honor him, and if he is an uttama Vaisnava, like Sanantana Goswami, we should give our whole self at his lotus feet and serve by body, mind, soul and everything.”
Then bhakti can come, otherwise it will not come. If we hate Vaisnavas, or dishonor Vaisnavas. Even if he is not a very qualified Vaisnava, yet he is a kanishta Vaisnava, he should be respected. Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Himself Krsna is speaking like this. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself is showing the culture of Vaisnavas; how a Vaisnava should be. He Himself said, “I am touching you and embracing you for my purification.” At last, He embraced him and they both fell down on the earth and began rolling and crying out “Krsna! Krsna!”
Caitanya Mahaprabhu was looking towards Sanatana Goswami. “Don’t close your eyes, set up your eyes.” Don’t give them a chance to sleep. Again, why was he looking? His cloths were worn and torn and he was in a very wretched condition. He was dirty, even though he had a very good shawl with him, which his brother in-law gave to him. He did not want to take it but his brother in-law forcibly gave it, so it was on Sanatana Goswami’s shoulder. Sanatana Goswami was so buddhi-mana, wise. He at once went to the Ganges to take bath. He shaved his head, like us, with a choti (sikha), which is an indication for Goloka Vrndavan. A forgotten dog that has a collar cannot be shot. So in this way, [when you accept a sikha], Yama cannot come. Death cannot come.
Sanatana Goswami went to one field, where there was a beggar. In Hindi it is called, gujuri, worn and torn. Sanatana Goswami told him, “I want that you should be merciful to me. Exchange my shawl with your worn and torn cloth.” The beggar replied, “Are you joking with me?” At that same time, Sanatana Goswami gave his shawl to the beggar and took the worn and torn cloth and went to Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Caitanya Mahaprabhu became so pleased. If you want to bhajan, like anybhilasita sunyam, then this is anyabhilasita sunyam. Understand? Only krsna-prema, love is there. It is wealth. Bhakti is wealth. By this Krsna can be controlled and then it is uttama-bhakti. Otherwise, it is not. We tell consolations or give enthusiasm and encouragement so that someone may not be discouraged. We say, “Oh you are very good bonafide Vaisnava.” But this is only to encourage them. Actually, they are not. What is the definition of a sadhaka? Can anyone you tell?
All the definitions have been given in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu—everything. If you are not reading and understanding all these things then pure bhakti, pure love and affection for Krsna cannot come. Also, you cannot simply read yourself and understand this. You will have to read all these things with a very cesta, qualified tattva-jna Rasika Vaisnavas. Otherwise, we cannot follow this. Rupa Goswami has told, “We are not all sadhakas. We have not yet come into the category of sadhaka. Uthpan na rathaya samyak. [MT2] The meaning of this is a sadhaka has rati for Krsna, the first impression of prema-bhava. That bhava has come in his heart, but still suffering and sorrows may come. There is still some karma-phala. The fruit of karma is still there, but he is very soon to see and meet with Krsna, like Bilvamangala Thakur. Difficulties will come, sometimes any [inaudible 26:59]. So many rogas, diseases will come. Some mental problems may come, but they will not affect that person who has some rati coming down from Goloka Vrndavan, from anyone of the associates of Krsna, whether it is coming from Krsna’s father and mother, Nanda and Yasoda, or from Sridhama, Subal, his friends, or the gopis. It will come. Electricity is not here. It comes from a station, a powerhouse. If we don’t connect to it, the electricity will not come and the bulb will not give light. So rati is not here in this world. It comes from Goloka Vrndavan and if you do bhajan as he has indicated then that pure bhakti in the form of rati will come. This is called bhava.
When we are doing any sadhana by this body, mind and soul and rati is there. There are some anarthas. There may be nama aparadha, dhama aparadha and seva aparadha, offenses towards name, dhama, [the deities] and towards the Vaisnavas. He tries to pray for bhava. Then it is sadhana. We should be ready be a real sadhaka. I have told you that karma is essential. Activities for living life is essential for all. We cannot be saved without taking air, water or any food. So we must strive forward. We will have to do [these things], but we should not do anything that is opposite to bhakti and will cover it.
I will give one history, then you can understand this. In India, there were so many kings, rsis and maharsis that were very qualified. Some were yogis. You know Sibi Maharaja. He was a good person. He was so merciful to all. He was always taking fruit, never telling lies, and caring about the welfare of others. Once, Indra feared that Sibi Maharaja will take his position. So he took a goddess with him and became an eagle and she became a pigeon. The pigeon was flying and the eagle was [inaudible 31:41]. At last, the pigeon came onto the lap of that rsi. The pigeon was breathing heavily. He was so fearful. In the meantime, that eagle came and told the maharsi, “Why are you taking my food? I am so hungry. I will die if you will not give me.” The pigeon was telling, “Save me. Save me.” The king said to the pigeon, “I will save you” and he told the eagle, “I will never return the pigeon. You can take anything else instead of this bird.” The eagle said, “I am so hungry that I may die. I want some food at once. Give me a portion of flesh from your body equal to weight as the pigeon.” Then the king told, “Yes.”
He cut off his thigh and gave so much flesh, more than the weight of the pigeon. The eagle said, “We should weigh this flesh.” When the weighed it, it showed that it was less. The eagle said, “More should be given.” The king gave his whole leg, but yet it was still less. He gave his feet and hands, but it was still underweight. Then he sat on the scale and said, “Just take me.” Indra at once appeared and said, “I will give you a benediction which you desire. What you ask I will give you.” The king said, “Don’t give examinations like this. I knew that it was Indra.” Here he did so much, but no connection to bhakti. It was not for Krsna or for the Vaisnavas or the eternal associates. There was little to no gandha, smell of bhakti there. So, he may go to svarga and then come back, or ascend only half-way. But if a man is chanting only one name of the Lord, it is more than that. Even if it is not the pure name, “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna,” but it is so many times more than that person. Such activities can cover our bhakti. So we should not be like this. “I am feeling alone. I should marry.” Why are you getting married? Is it for Krsna or for your happiness? You should try to think about this and then marry, no harm. The pandavas married Draupadi, no harm, but see whether you are marrying for Krsna’s pleasure or not. Anything you do, do for Krsna. Do it in relation with Krsna. When we are in a lower degree of bhakti, it is called aropa-siddha-bhakti. I don’t know the English name. There is no bhakti, but we may be making a garden, or anything.
Yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat
Yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad arpana
You may be doing anything, but the fruits should be given to Krsna. This is a lower degree of bhakti. Bhakti is very little then. What are you doing? You are doing things for you, but you are offering it to Krsna. But if you are doing everything for Krsna, it is so much better. There is a so much difference [between the two]. We should try to know and realize these things these things. To do for Krsna or to give something of what we are doing for Krsna is very different.
If I am becoming of Krsna, then I have offered myself to the lotus feet of Krsna. If you do anything, you will do it for Krsna. If you have a very good garden with so many mangoes and apples, then take a basket and collect those fruits and offer them to Krsna. This is good, but if you have offered your everything to Krsna and that garden is Krsna’s, and “I am the servant of Krsna. I am taking it for Krsna.” Then everything is okay. This is called bhakti. Try to understand the fundamental principles of bhakti. In no time you will become a pure Vaisnava. It is not so hard. It is very easy to be Krsna’s.
Sometimes, sanga-siddha. What is sanga-siddha-bhakti? Is it to be virtuous, to speak the truth and do welfare for others? These are certainly very good qualities, but if they are connected with Krsna, then these activities are bhakti. Otherwise, they are not bhakti. You cannot speak truth anyway. Why? If I am asking the doctor, “What is your name?” he will tell you his name. His name may be Kalpani, but it is not the name of this body, or the name of this soul. The father and mother have given a name to him. I may ask, “Who is the owner of this house?” “Oh it is Kishan’s.” But actually Kishan is not the owner. His body is not his own. Krsna has given wisdom, money—everything, He may die after a thousand years, or five thousand years, but he will eventually die. Who then will be the owner of that house? The government has made it and given it and may take it. Anything we speak in this world is not true. When we will realize that we are this atma, then we will see that we are eternal servants of Krsna and He is our eternal master. Then we can do anything and quickly develop. It is more than a half hour now, so one kirtan can be done. Munindra-vrnda vandite.
I have explained sanga-siddha and how it is mixed. To chant, remember, to do kirtan, to hear the pastimes of Krsna, to hear the pastimes of real rasik Vaisnavas, to worship and to serve are nine [limbs of bhakti].
sravanam kirtanam visnu smaranam pada sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma nivedanam
You can do any of the nine or the sixty-four kinds of bhakti relating to Krsna, for Krsna or for His associates. Anything related to Krsna, if you will do by mind, by soul or by the senses, it will be bhakti. But it should be done for Krsna or done for anyone linked of Krsna, it will be bhakti. It may not be directly to Krsna, but it will take you to Krsna. Vrinda has two shapes; one is her sakhi form, and the other is the tulasi plant. Krsna also has two shapes; one is Salagrama, and the other is Krsna Himself. So it is very easy to have tulasi. If you plant tulasi and do parikrama of her, a mood will come to us to serve Krsna. To serve Gurudeva. What is this? Is this not serving Krsna? It seems that that service is outside of Krsna, but to serve Krsna is bhakti. By serving Gurudeva, he will tell you hari-katha and you will have his mercy. Without guru you cannot go [to Krsna]. So this is the essence.
Any of the sixty-four kinds of bhakti will lead us to krsna-bhakti. I spoke earlier about Sanatana Goswami. He met with Caitanya Mahaprabhu and fell flat at His lotus feet. “I want to ask you some questions.” Mahaprabhu replied, “Yes you can ask any question you like.” Sanatana Goswami then asked his first question. “Who am I? Why am I unhappy in this world and how can I ever be happy?” Try to understand this question. Why are you in distress? Those who have taken birth will have to die tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, in some years, or up to one hundred years, or even in a thousand years, but you’ll have to die. You will have to become old. There are so many rogas, diseases. We are here unhappy in this world. Even if there is no money problem. You may be so strong and healthy and are the prime minister of England or India. Someone can shoot you at any time. In India so many [were assassinated]. In America so many also [were assassinated]. [MT7] Money cannot solve any of our problems. It will create so many problems, yet we think that money can save us, give us happiness, but it is not truthful.
You can ask your forefathers who have become so old. Ask them “Are you happy?” They will answer, “No I am not happy.” Why? This world has been made for all these things. Here nobody can be happy. Only one will be happy if he chants Krsna’s names, willingly or unwillingly. There is no question, he will be happy. Why? Krsna is merciful, he is omnipotent. He knows everything. He can help you. He is so powerful and so merciful. He knows how you can be helped. At first, we will have to know “Who am I?” This is the first question. If this question does not come to our mind at all, then we are not a human, we are like a wild animal. There is no difference between a wild animal and us. I may go to slaughterhouses and see so many cows, and she-goats. One by one they are sent inside to be packed in a machine. I may give them some green grasses in their mouths nearby and the will quarrel over the grass. They do not know that they will be digested soon. They do not know why they are going inside the [slaughterhouse] and do not come back outside.
And we try so much for happiness but very little comes, but it is mixed also with suffering. There is no pure happiness. But if you don’t like suffering, still it will come. Why? Anyone who is taking birth in a very rich family, like the Indian Tata family or the American Rockefeller. A person may be born in a king’s dynasty and becomes the king, or the prime minister. Why is one born blind? Why? So we should understand this question: “Who am I?” Why does distress come? I may want happiness, but distress is coming. I want happiness but it does not come. How can we be happy?
Caitanya Mahaprabhu then answered this question of “Who am I?”
jivera svarupa haya krsnera nitya das
krsnera tatastha sakti bheda-abheda prakasa
All souls, whether they are in the body of a man, woman, child, plants or animals, they are eternal servants of the Lord, of Krsna, but they have forgotten their svarupa. They have forgotten their constitutional nature. They only know that they are the physical body. When the physical body goes away, then they cry and cry.
There is a story I want to tell you as an example. There was a very big rsi saint in India named Astavakra rsi. Astavakra means that he is crooked in eight places. His hands were here, and his mouth was like this. He was bent in eight places. He could not speak so fluently. Anyhow, carrying a stick he came from the Himalayas to the palace of Maharaja Janaka, who was such a realized soul. Sita Devi came as his daughter. She was the wife of Rama. When Astavakra rsi came, the gatekeepers opened the gate and said, “For you, there is no obstruction. You should go.” He came to that meeting place like we are here now, in an assembly hall. The assembly hall was full of very big rsis and learned scholars of all kinds. Some of them were self-realized in Paramatma, like Yajnavalkya. When Astavakra Rsi entered the meeting all, all began to laugh.
Astavakra rsi took his stick and put it here [indicating] and also began to laugh very loudly. All were astonished. “Why is he [laughing]? We were laughing at his crooked body. He is so black and ugly. But he is fearless entering this assembly hall full of rich and learned personalities. Maharaja Janaka stood up and folded his hands, “O Maharaja. Why are you laughing?” Astavakra rsi then asked, “Why are all of you laughing?” Maharaja Janaka answered, “They are laughing at the sight of your ugly face and body and that you dare to come here in this very learned assembly. You are [inaudible 55:44] and you are lame. All of your parts of the body are crooked and even still you are coming here. You do not have any good cloth. You are almost naked.” He was only wearing a langoti. Do you know what that is?
Devotees: A loincloth.
He began to laugh and said, “I am not laughing, I am actually crying because I have come here from a long distance. It took fifteen days to walk here from the forest. I had heard that there were many learned persons and realized souls here.”
Janaka Maharaja said, “Yes, we are all learned.”
Astavakra Rsi then said, “Alas. I see that none here are learned. You are all cobblers, shoemakers.”
Maharaja asked, “Why are you saying this and abusing them?”
Astavakra Rsi replied, “Really they are shoemakers. They have knowledge in matters of leather skins. They have not seen the atma, which is superior. They are only seeing this body which is only made of material elements. They are not able to see my soul, which is so fine. Why have I come? My coming here is in vain. I am returning now.”
Maharaja Janaka embraced him and took him in his lap and made him sit on his own throne and fell flat at the lotus feet of Astavakra Rsi. “You are my Guru.” The entire world knows that I am a realized soul, but I am always involved with this body. When the soul comes out of this body, the body will have to be buried, burned to ashes, or it will be eaten by jackals, eagles, and dogs. They will quarrel over saying, “This is mine. It is not yours.” So this body is not you. Caitanya Mahaprabhu tells that the soul is who I am. You should try to realize this soul. Don’t try to give pleasure to this body. You cannot save it anyhow. The doctors cannot save you, neither can the engineers. Scientists do so much labor to make this body happy. They are trying to invent ways that a new heart can be given, a monkey’s heart can be given to a dog and a dog’s brain can be given to you, but they cannot know what is the atma. They have invented so many strange things, this electricity, airplanes, computers, weapons that can kill lakhs of people, like they did in Japan. Yet, they cannot create even a leg of a small ant. They cannot invent the atma and what things makes one happy.
For this we will have to go to Caitanya Mahaprabhu and to Sanatana Goswami. Caitanya Mahaprabhu told him that we are all servants of Krsna, part and parcel of the Lord. How will this be known and will we be happy? I will try to explain this in class tomorrow. I give so much thanks to all that you have come to listen to me. I am like a beggar. I am a penniless person but I don’t want one penny, not a farthing. I have come from India, from Vrindavan, from the place of Radha-Krsna, Sanatana Goswami and Rupa Goswami, not to collect any money but I want to collect certainly something—pure hearts. I want to collect pure hearts, and make them more smooth, more sweet and fragrant and offer you to the lotus feet of Krsna. So you can help me in this way.
Gaura Premanande! Hari Haribol!