At once! Don’t procrastinate. Don’t think of engaging in bhakti later—like tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. We should not think that, “It’s alright to not perform bhakti now since our life is so long.” Rāvaṇa wanted to build a staircase to heaven; he proposed to build it on the same day he was going to fight with Rāmacandra. The war between Rāmacandra and Rāvaṇa was fought for many days, and only one day remained for the war to be finished. So Rāvaṇa wanted to build a stair-case to heaven, where anyone, regardless of any prior qualification or merit could climb the staircase and enter heaven. But the next day, on the last day of war, he had no time at all. The monkeys attacked and Rāma came before Rāvaṇa and a big fight ensued and Rāvaṇa was killed. In India it is said: kal kare so āj kar, āj kare so ab. This means: ‘What you want to do tomorrow you should do now.”’
There is no guarantee regarding your life span. Tūrṇaṁ, at once, you should give up your bad habits like smoking. You should not think of waiting for tomorrow. You should give it up this very moment. And you should try to chant harināma starting today, not tomorrow or any other day. You should not think, “Oh, I will gradually give these things up.” You should start to engage in bhakti at once. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? Tūrṇaṁ yateta na pated anu-mṛtyu yāvat. Before we die we should try to go to a bona fide guru.
We are not qualified to recognize a bona fide guru. We should pray to Kṛṣṇa to bestow His mercy on us so that we can find a bona fide guru. Kṛṣṇa knows everything. We should start searching for a bona fide guru from this very moment and be surrendered to him because we have found him by Kṛṣṇa’s mercy. We should be surrendered to Gurudeva first, then to Kṛṣṇa. Otherwise, by only serving Kṛṣṇa, our services will be fruitless.
There was a king called Khaṭvāṇga Mahārāja. He was very strong. When a war was being fought between the demigods and the demons, he was called to heaven to take part in the war. He was the leading general of the demigod’s army. At last, the demons were defeated. The demigods told Khaṭvāṇga Mahārāja, “You can ask us for any benediction.”
Khaṭvāṇga Mahārāja replied, “I want to cross the ocean of birth and death. I want salvation. I want to only serve Kṛṣṇa.”
The demigods said, “We cannot give this benediction. None can give this benediction. Only Mukunda can bestow this mercy.” ‘Mukunda’ means: one who can give mukti. Only Kṛṣṇa can give this.
Then he said, “Let me go to Vṛndāvana of the earthly realm.”
The demigods fulfilled his request at once and Khaṭvāṇga Mahārāja came to earth. Once in Vṛndāvana he began to chant, “Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare, Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.” At once, four messengers of Viṣṇu came and took him to Vaikuṇṭha. This pastime is written in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
So, we should know what guru has given us; we should try to keep it carefully in our heart. He has given us the seed to serve Kṛṣṇa. This seed is called bhakti-latā— the seed of the creeper of devotion. He also gives us the water to nourish the seed. What is that water? It is śravaṇam–kīrtanam (hearing and chanting). Unfortunately for us, and not for him, he was called by his Supreme Master for the direct association of his Prabhu; he is engaged in serving in more intimate, essential, and confidential ways. Some seeds he has sown in the hearts of devotees have not sprouted, some seeds have sprouted, but they need more water. Some water has been given, but it wasn’t enough. The seeds need more water. So, Svāmī Mahārāja requested me to water the seedlings and sprouts.
He told me, “Take this water; I am going to be engaged in another service. You should go and give this water.” What is that water I was told to give? The water is what I have heard from Svāmījī, from my spiritual masters, and from what I have gained from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta—this is the water. I have come for this purpose; to obey his orders—his divine orders. The devotional plants have grown, but they need more water. They have been neglected. Svāmījī specifically told me to water these plants. Otherwise, they may wither. And those whose seed of devotion hasn’t yet sprouted, they should also take this water. I want to perform this service that Svāmījī has entrusted to me. I pray that Svāmījī will be glad with my service. Also Kṛṣṇa and His associates are very merciful; I pray that they bestow their mercy on me so that I will be able to perform the service that Svāmījī has entrusted me with.
My mission is to help everyone, especially those devotees who have been neglected so much and who are on the verge of giving everything up. Some have been given harināma and dikṣā, but they have given up and gone to other sampradāya like the Nimbārka Samprādaya in India. I know them all. Some have gone to astrologers in their search for fulfillment. Some have gone to the Rāmānuja-sampradāya. And some have gone to Rādhā-kuṇḍa and have become sahajiyā–bābājīs. Svāmījī never wanted this to happen. I requested him to bring them back again with more love and affection. They cannot be controlled otherwise. We cannot control even an ant, what to speak of controlling devotees?
Svāmījī has never controlled or ordered anyone, as far as I know. They were controlled by his love and affection. We should control devotees with love and affection so they do not give up their holy master’s lotus feet. Those who have left should be brought again to their holy master’s feet and given energy to serve their holy master’s lotus feet with renewed vigor and confidence. By doing so they will break the chain of birth and death and will surely have the service of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa conjugal, or Gaura-Nityānanda Prabhu, or the service of Jagannātha. We will have to serve Jagannātha first because He is in this jagat, and then gradually we will advance and direct our services to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Or if it is convenient, at once you can have a relation with the Divine Couple—Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, both are the same. By serving Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in Navadvīpa with dāsya-bhāva, we will see that—when we jump in the Ganges from the Jagannātha-ghāṭa or from Nāgariyā-ghāṭa in Navadvīpa where Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu used to take bath—when we dive into the waters of the Ganges with the words ‘Śacīnandana Gaurahari’ dancing on our tongues we will see that in less than a moment we will have arrived at Keśī-ghāṭa in Vṛndāvana with the words ‘Rādhe Kṛṣṇa, Rādhe Kṛṣṇa’ dancing on our tongues.
U.K. 20 June 1996
[CC-by-NDNC Bhaka Bandhav]