yāvat janama mora aparadhe hainū bhora
niṣkapaṭe nā bhajinū tomā
tathāpi ha tūmi gati nā chaḍiha prāṇa-pati
mūñi sama nāhika adhamā
Since my birth, I have offended You again and again and failed to worship You sincerely, without duplicity. Nevertheless, You are my only shelter. O Lord of my life, please do not neglect me, there is no one more fallen than I.
Here, Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura describes niṣkapaṭa-bhajana: “O Prabhu! I have committed many offenses, life after life. I don’t have a clean heart. I cannot do pure bhajana. I don’t have any strength of my own. The association near me is always trying to steal me away. But I am Yours, Prabhu! You are my beloved. I am fallen! Please take me and keep me close to Your lotus feet. I have no desire to return to māyā!” This should be our prayer.
Once, a devotee came to the āśrama and became a brahmacārī. After some time, he went to a park and saw a couple of lovers embracing and kissing each other.
The brahmacārī thought, “I am dry. I have no friends. Nobody talks with me. Nobody comes near me. Please God! Give me one friend! Then my life will be successful.”
The conditioned souls are very weak and hungry. Also, they have many unsatiated desires. Although they pray to Him, they often revert to their erring, misleading natures. They will jump into the well of māyā, again and again. People are always looking to engage in enjoyment despite having a diseased body. You will have to leave the body. Still, the conditioned souls are so attached to their bodies.
‘eka’ kṛṣṇa-nāme kare sarva-pāpa nāśa
premera kāraṇa bhakti karena prakāśa
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 8.26
Simply chanting kṛṣṇa-nāma once destroys all sins. It brings about bhakti that awakens prema.
premera udaye haya premera vikāra
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 8.27
When prema awakens, it generates transformations that manifest in the body, such as perspiration, trembling, hairs standing on end, choking of the voice, and tears in the eyes.
anāyāse bhava-kṣaya, kṛṣṇera sevana
eka kṛṣṇa-nāmera phale pāi eta dhana
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 8.28
The fruit of simply chanting kṛṣṇa-nāma just once is that one’s material existence is easily terminated and he receives the wealth of service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
hena kṛṣṇa-nāma yadi laya bahu-bāra
tabu yadi prema nahe, nahe aśrudhāra
tabe jāni, aparādha tāhāte pracura
kṛṣṇa-nāma-bīja tāhe nā kare aṅkura
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 8.29–30
If one chants kṛṣṇa-nāma again and again and yet prema does not develop and tears do not fall from the eyes, then know that this is because of so many offenses and thus the seed of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa does not sprout.
By chanting Kṛṣṇa’s name just once, all your sins, anarthas, and offenses will be destroyed. And then, the sādhaka will be admitted into the realm of prema-bhakti. The sādhaka will then be ornamented with the different symptoms of ecstasy. Crossing māyā, the desire for kṛṣṇa-sevā will completely blossom in his heart. Kṛṣṇa’s name bestows many fruits. Although you have been chanting Kṛṣṇa’s names for a long time, your heart doesn’t melt and tears don’t appear. This is because of offenses. Your love is lost because you have shared it with many others. You cannot use your love for God. In this world only ‘mortgage love’ is found.
Kardama Ṛṣi told Devahūti, “I will leave as soon as a son is born. I will stay with you only until our son is born.” Many people think, “The śāstras have stated that a person should be in family life from the age of twenty-five to fifty. So, I will loan myself to one person.”
A person says, “If your father gives ten million rupees, I will become your slave.” This is called kāma-timiṅgila. These giant timiṅgila are always ready to swallow everyone afflicted by lust.
Paḍinā asat-bhole kāma-timiṅgile gile, e nātha kara paritrāṇa. A sādhaka should say, “O Prabhu! O Kṛṣṇa! This lust is very powerful. Please protect me!”
If you sow and water a seed regularly, it will sprout and grow into a nice plant. Similarly, you should endeavor again and again to progress in the realm of bhajana. You should think, “I will go near Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. They will always protect and water the seed of devotion with śravaṇa-kīrtana. The creeper of devotion will always flourish under their care. I will have good moods. The creeper of devotion will bear many tasteful fruits and fragrant flowers. Then, I will have no more problems. But the seed of this creeper will not sprout if it is placed on a rock. So, I should not make my heart into a stone.”
Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī stated in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 8.31):
caitanya-nityānande nāhi e-saba vicāra
nāma laite prema dena, vahe aśrudhāra
But in chanting the holy names of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityānanda, all these considerations, like offences, are not present. If you chant Their names, They will give you prema, and tears will fall from the eyes.
The holy names of Śrī Caitanya and Nityānanda don’t consider any offense. Just by chanting and praying to Their names, prema will come. Nityānanda Prabhu and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu gave prema to many offenders and atheists. Even those who committed offenses at the lotus feet of Mahāprabhu, Nityānanda Prabhu, Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura, and their associates were also given prema.
Śacī Mātā had apparently committed an offense at the lotus feet of Śrī Advaita Ācārya. Mahāprabhu therefore told her, “I will only give you prema if you ask Advaita Ācārya for forgiveness.” Although Mahāprabhu and Nityānanda Prabhu are always thinking of how to give the wealth of prema to everyone, Mahāprabhu at first refused to give that precious gift to His own mother, and He gave the same treatement to Devānanda Paṇḍita. Why? Mahāprabhu does not freely give prema to those who have committed offenses. The conditioned souls have been committing offenses for millions of births. Nityānanda Prabhu and Mahāprabhu first check to see if the jīvas are humbly praying and crying to be forgiven for their innumerable offenses. If they are, then it is possible for them to attain prema.
Guru and Vaiṣṇavas understand the inner intentions and behavior of the conditioned souls. They know everything. Mahat-aparādha, an offense commited to a pure devotee, will result in a terrible disease. The offender will become inimical to anything related to bhakti and his heart will become dry. He will no longer serve Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. He will distance himself from service, and soon after will re-establish his relationship with māyā. Guru and Vaiṣṇavas are always ready to shower their mercy and forgive the offender, but the offender himself continues to commit offenses, and due to this, he goes further and further away from Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. He creates a big border and restricts himself from going near to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas.
Guru and Vaiṣṇavas never consider a person’s qualification. Upon seeing a person seeking shelter, they will immediately take that person in their lap and say, “I will clean you and give you all facilities to engage in hari-bhajana.” But the conditioned souls are lost. Due to their independent nature, they have lost everything. If the fortunate souls are serious and don’t choose to lose themselves again, they can always be with Guru and Vaiṣṇavas; then they will always be protected. But if they neglect Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, many offenses will be committed.
The first fruit of an offense is disease and many forms of sickness. Then, weakness, followed by fear will come. The person who has committed offenses will distance himself, saying, “How can I go near Guru and Vaiṣṇavas? I am not qualified; I am not able to. It is not good for me to go near them. It is much better to distance myself from them. I will no longer go near them.”
How can such a person ever be helped? If someone chants harināma but is actually crooked and cheating—if he has not cut off his relationship with māyā (with his body and his followers) and does not offer respect to his Guru-varga, but out of desire for respect from others externally shows himself to be a big sādhu—then such a person can never achieve bhakti.
For example, a king told his son, “Dear son, respect your father and forefathers.”
The son said, “Yes father, I will respect you as you respected your own father.”
The king had put his own father in prison and had given him only one cup of water and a handful of chickpeas to eat. Previously, that king had three brothers—there were four princes in that kingdom—but the brothers all killed each other, and the only surviving prince then took the post of king by force and imprisoned his father. Is this called proper respect of one’s father?
Similarly, we are all near the Guru-varga now and have received everything from them, but if we have no respect for the them, if we don’t offer our respectful obeisances unto them and instead only think of our own respect and followers, then what will be the result? If a father only respects and loves his own children, he will go down. If someone only likes his followers and disciples, then his disciples will also only like their own disciples. Why would they still respect their guru? But if someone follows his Guru-varga, then his disciples will also follow their Guru-varga, and in this way, the flow of mercy can come.
If a guru only looks down and is only paying attention to his own followers, then no blessings will come from the Guru-varga. The disciples will only possess the fruits of their bad activities because of being inclined towards their wicked moods. Then their bad activities come to that guru. Such a person cannot be called ‘guru;’ he is a ‘goru,’ a cow.
When someone first arrives in the āśrama, the Guru-varga will teach him, “Pray to my Guru Mahārāja. This is proper respect. Then I will be happy. Respect my Guru Mahārāja and the Guru-paramparā.” If the devotees do not teach new-comers to respect Śrī Guru, the Vaiṣṇavas, Param-gurudeva, and the Guru-paramparā, then where are they? Who are they? This would be opposed to the line of bhakti. It would be a new line, or flow, but it would be like coming from Gaṅgā and flowing into a drain instead.
When the water of the Gaṅgā is mixed with drain water and other kinds of water, it becomes like the ocean. Ocean water in itself is not useful. Only when the sun filters and evaporates that water, puts it in the clouds and then, at the proper time, showers it down as rain, then that water will be useful again and helpful for all.
Similarly we can ask, when will all our love and affection be for the Guru-varga only? If our love and affection comes down, like rainwater and it mixes with this material world, then it becomes muddy and dirty. It mixes with drain water and then flows with the river to the ocean and everything is useless. Everyone’s love and affection should go up to the Guru-varga. Every day, at every moment, offer them your respectful obeisances. If you do not do so, you are not a disciple. If you break the discipline, you are not a disciple, and māyā catches the disciples who do not respect Śrī Guru, God, and His family.
He who is attached to his own blood relatives or his own followers is contaminated. This is called anartha, offense, sin, and false ego. All of this throws you down into the drain of material existence.
Who do we serve day and night? Who do we have relationship with? Who do we use all our income for? For whom do we spend all our blood and energy? All this should be considered. Otherwise we are great cheaters and hypocrites.
Who will give judgment? Yamarāja and his soldiers will punish us. Māyā-devī’s popular family members will give their judgment and accordingly, the fruit will come, making everyone realize how honest someone is. Outwardly, someone may perform arcana, pūjā, and offer respect to everyone, but this is not real bhakti.
Many people stay in the holy dhāma, just like crocodiles, fish, and other species live in the waters of the Gaṅgā. Such people may be present in the dhāma, but their heart and mind is with their family, children, and home. If you stay in the dhāma but are doing business or are collecting many things for your own sense enjoyment, then you cannot receive any spiritual treatment. It is very difficult to help such a person. This disease is very strange. Such a person becomes like a brahma-rakṣasa.
Once, a dog came crying for help to Śrī Rāmacandra. In his own language, he complained to the Lord, saying, “You are the king. You give good judgment to all. I surrender to You. I am an orphan animal, please help me.”
Rāmacandra said, “Yes, I will try to help you. What is the difficulty? By your karma you received the body of a dog, but please tell Me what is wrong and I will help. “
The dog said, “I was lying on one side of a street and a Paṇḍita came by and beat me. He broke one of my legs. Now I cannot walk easily. I am suffering so much without any treatment. What can I do?”
Rāmacandra said, “Call the brāhmaṇa.”
Rāmacandra would never give any judgment or punishment to the brāhmaṇas. He always respected them and followed the proper etiquette. If any judgement was necessary, He would call his guru, Vaśiṣṭha.
This time also, Vaśiṣṭha came and Rāma told Him, “Ask the Paṇḍita why he broke the leg of the dog.”
Vaśiṣṭha asked and the Paṇḍita replied, “The dog was lying in the middle of the road and did not give me any respect or go to the side, so that I could cross easily.”
The dog said, “The road is very large, I was only sleeping on one side, without barking or doing anything! Why did he beat me?”
Vaśiṣṭha asked, “What punishment do you want to give him?”
The dog said, “Give him the position of being the mahānta of the large and famous Kalinjara temple.”
The Paṇḍita began to dance in great joy thinking a great boon had come for him. Rāmacandra asked the dog, “Why do you want him to have this post?”
The dog said, “I gave him this post because then he will not serve. He will be very greedy to enjoy. He will not serve God and he will be greedy to enjoy all the property that is offered to God. In my last life, I was the ācārya of this Kalinjara temple and I stole everything. Now my tongue is always hanging out of my mouth and saliva is dropping from it. I was always greedy to eat the offerings that were meant for the Lord, and I would steal things before they were offered in the temple. Therefore I got this body as a dog. When the brāhmaṇa becomes a dog, he will understand his faulty nature.”
People come to the temple, to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, the holy dhāma, Gaṅgā, Godāvarī, and the holy tīrthas, but they are very greedy for mundane things. They want name and fame. They make big announcements and want everyone to be in their group. They want everyone to respect them, and if someone doesn’t, they torment him. They have no love for God and God’s family; they only desire their own respect, name and fame. Will punishment come or not? Ask yourself, “Where am I? Am I really nearby God and the holy dhāma?” Large fish live in the Gaṅgā, but are they really near to Gaṅgā? In the same way, some people stay in the dhāma but cannot get treatment.
How can Śrī Guru, the Vaiṣṇavas, and harināma help them? They fly in the sky, like eagles, but are only looking down for dead bodies. Their attachment is with their own sense recreation. Then how can they cross māyā? They do not follow or give respect to Śrī Guru and the Vaiṣṇavas. Thus, their pride cheats them, and they cannot obtain the blessings of Śrī Guru and the Vaiṣṇavas. How will their anarthas dissipate?
Such people say, “Don’t go to any other Vaiṣṇava. No one else is a Vaiṣṇava. Only hear from me. My group and disciples are Vaiṣṇavas, other guru’s disciples are not.” This is not the nature and etiquette of bhakti and bhajana. Vaiṣṇavism means that you must offer yourself to the Guru-varga, and any service, inspiration, or instruction that the Guru-varga give, must be followed. And you must continuously serve Śrī Guru.
Śrī Guru teaches the glory of God, the Vaiṣṇavas, and the Guru-varga. If someone really respects and loves God, the Vaiṣṇavas, and the holy dhāma, then such a person is a Vaiṣṇava, but our ācāryas have explained that someone who wears tilaka, neckbeads, and has a big śikhā, showing everyone, ‘I am a great Vaiṣṇava and all should serve and follow me,’ is not a Vaiṣṇava in reality. Is he tṛṇād-api sunīcena or not?
Mahat-saṅga helps everyone, but crooked cheaters are not mahat; they are not honest. By going to a great personality, you automatically become cleansed. If you feel you have become impure at heart, have no desire for harināma, and no tendency for service, then you should understand that you are fallen and must be in bad association.
If someone, knowing his own fallen position, repents and surrenders to Śrī Guru and the Vaiṣṇavas, then they will directly reflect that person’s true condition to him—like taking a picture of his heart and showing him how fallen, impure, and full of anarthas he is. Śrī Guru and the Vaiṣṇavas show this, so that he, understanding his own condition, will repent at heart and pray deeply. When he sincerely cries, Śrī Guru will bestow his mercy and purify his heart.
The disciple prays, “You are my eternal master, but I am cheated by māyā and have so much attachment to, and relationship with, the objects of māyā. O master, please help me! I am attached to my body and mind, and have no greed for bhajana or service. I only make a show for everyone, but really, I have no desire. I am fallen, arrested by māyā, and I do not even want to cross this. I am such a fallen soul.”
“I am truly very fallen”—this realization comes. When you have this feeling of repent and lamentation, you can truly attain good fortune, because you will become a recipient of the mercy of God, the holy dhāma, and the Vaiṣṇavas.
Excerpted from the Bhakta Bandhav Publication “ Śrī Prema-bhakti-candrikā”, Chapter 3
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]