Acaryas Quotes Bhakti Quotes Srila Narottama Thakura

Srila Narottama Thakura

Srila Narottama Thakura, accompanied by Srila Syamananda Prabhu and Srinivasa Acarya, came to Vrndavana, seeking the shelter and guidance of a Vaisnava. The three of them approached the lotus feet of Srila Jiva Gosvami, who was at that time residing at the Sri Radha-Damodara temple. Srila Jiva Gosvami was very happy to see them. He considered that Lord Krsna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had personally arranged for these three young devotees to be given classes on all the teachings of Srila Rupa Gosvami, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Sanatana Gosvami and the other great acaryas. He was very pleased to have students like them, and he began to teach them sastras like Sat-sandarbha, Brhad-bhagavatamrta with the explanations of Srila Sanatana Gosvami, Brhad-vaisnava-tosani, Hari-bhakti-vilasa, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindu, Ujjavala-nilamani and many others. Thus, the three devotees very quickly became masters of all the subject matters.

During this period, Srila Jiva Gosvami was accepted by the entire Vaisnava community as the “Vaisnava king”, the topmost Vaisnava, of three mandalas: Sri Navadvipa Mandala, Sri Vraja Mandala, and Sri Ksetra Mandala (Jagannatha Puri). He established the Visva Vaisnava Raja Sabha. “Visva” means world and “Vaisnava-raja” means pure devotees. He established Visva Vaisnava Raja Sabha for the whole world, so that any person in any part of the world can come to that spiritual institution, to inquire from pure devotees and to read and study Vaisnava philosophy. Srila Jiva Gosvami was the second president of that society, Srila Rupa Gosvami having been the first, and that society still exists today under different nomenclatures.

Sat-Sandarbha is the scripture of Srila Jiva Gosvami. It is an exceptional book regarding Vaisnava philosophy and the culture and principles of Vaisnava etiquette and procedures. The thoughts of Srila Jiva Gosvami in Sat-Sandarbha appear in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and all other Gaudiya Vaisnava literatures. Sat-Sandarbha came first, and after that, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. All its essence has been taken from Sat-Sandarbha.

At that time, only those given the consent and authority of Srila Jiva Gosvami were considered learned and qualified Vaisnavas. On this basis, one would be accepted as a Vaisnava by the entire society of Gaudiya Vaisnavas in the three places: Navadvipa, Jagannath Puri and Vrndavana. Vaisnavas from every part of India used to come to Srila Jiva Gosvami to study the sastras under his guidance.

Although Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, Srila Srinivasa acarya and Sri Syamananda Prabhu were not his initiated disciples, Jiva Gosvami adopted them and became their siksa-guru, giving them all siddhanta. He taught them Srimad Bhagavatam, Sat-Sandarbha, all the books of Srila Rupa Gosvami with an emphasis on Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu and Sri Ujjvala-nilamani, the books of Srila Sanatana Gosvami like Srimad Brhad-bhagavatamrtam, and all the other books of Gaudiya Vaisnavism.

Although these three devotees had their own diksa-gurus, they held greater respect for Srila Jiva Gosvami. If the siksa-guru is fully qualified, he should be respected as much as Krsna, and if diksa-guru is similarly qualified, he should be also treated like that, as a manifestation of Lord Krsna. If both are qualified, both should be given equal respect and regarded as Krsna’s manifestations. Siksa-guru is not inferior to diksa-guru, and in some cases he is superior to diksa-guru. This is according to qualification. Srila Jiva Gosvami never made any formal disciple. He never gave anustanika-diksa (fire sacrifice); he gave only Krsna-siddhanta, which is more important than the fire sacrifice and other rituals.

Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha, Mathura
November 2, 1996

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WHERE SHOULD WE DO OUR BHAJAN?

Hearing the glories of Bhagavān automatically cleans the heart and gives all good qualities. Therefore, Mahāprabhu chose this siddha-pīṭha, the perfected place of Gambhīrā. No ordinary people were allowed to enter that area for it was reserved for the service of Lord Jagannātha.In the garden of Kāśī Miśra, Tulasī and flowers are cultivated for Jagannātha’s service. But there is some other special glory there. Kāśī Miśra would daily go to that place and with firm concentration, sit and meditate on serving Lord Jagannātha. All places aren’t pure and the mind won’t be clean to serve Bhagavān. But there are some siddha-pīṭhas reserved for Bhagavān’s service. These days people make so called temples for the service of God, but they use these places for arranging marriages and hotels for mundane sense enjoyment and all people come and enjoy there. Then is that place for Bhagavān or for ordinary people? People build a temple and think, “This is owned by our family. This is my child’s room, my nephew’s room, my uncle’s room and all our anniversaries, marriages, birthday parties, śraddhā ceremonies and funeral festivals will be performed here. Everything is ours and Ṭhākurajī is imprisoned in a little room.”Then is that a place for Bhagavān’s happiness or one’s own families’ enjoyment? That place was only made for one’s own prestige. Then when any donations are collected all the money is counted and hoarded. The pūjārī is a paid worker who comes and places some sugar candy and flat rice on the altar, waves some incense and leaves. Then flies, mosquitoes and rats come and eat the offerings and pass stool on the altar. Is that a siddha pīṭha reserved for the service of God? A perfect place is where everything is used for the service of God with no trace of material sense enjoyment. Saintly people stay in such places to perform their bhajana, otherwise sādhana is not possible.Rich businessmen come to disturb the sādhus practicing bhakti in the temples. They say, “Hey, why don’t you come and do any business for me? You only eat and sleep like a lazy buffalo! You are a weight to society. Get out of this place.”People call their buildings a temple and keep a small altar to evade government taxes. Therefore, they name some place a temple. In such places the mind will never be clear and able to properly chant harināma and guru-mantra because they are full of the bad impressions of materialistic sense enjoyers.One time a sage was traveling and came to sit underneath a banyan tree to perform bhajana. But when he sat to meditate, he could not connect with harināma; instead, thousands of dead bodies appeared in his mind. All ghosts and demonic spirits were flying around that area cackling and attacking him.He said, “What do you want?”They said, “This is our graveyard, why did you come here.”In this way, not all places are pure and favorable for bhajana.Śrīman Mahāprabhu knew that this place of Gambhīrā was a beautiful garden reserved completely for the service of Jagannātha. Kāśī Miśra, the king’s guru, practiced sādhana and meditation of serving Jagannātha there from morning to evening. By going to a pure place your mind will be pure. But by going to a tamasika or rajasika place the consciousness will be restless and impure.For thousands of years all the king’s gurus of Jagannātha Purī would come to that place and do sādhana. What type of sādhana did they perform? One type of worship is called mantra-mayī-upāsana, where one only chants mantras and worship the Deities with arcana. But another type of worship is called svarasiki, this means to serve God internally out of pure loving affection. This love is the instrument of service and worship. What is the process to offer one’s body, senses, mind and heart to God? This is called real sādhana and meditation. The love of the conditioned souls has been spread and misused for millions of lives. How can this love be collected and offered to God? Conditioned souls use all their love and affection for temporary relationships.With mantra-mayī-upāsana, one remembers many mantras from the scriptures while giving incense, ghee wick, bhoga and other paraphernalia to the Deity. This is one method of serving Bhagavān. In the other process, there are no external materials; rather, the heart is the instruments and wealth. This is real pūjā, worship. Pūjā, worship, means to offer everything for the pleasure of the beloved.Kāśī Miśra, Sārvabhauma Paṇḍa, and other saintly devotees would come there and sit on a kuśa-āsana and practice mānasī-sevā. Always remembering the material world and speaking about mundane things is not the same as constantly engaging the mind in Bhagavān’s service. This is very difficult for ordinary persons. This is called samādhi, controlling the mind and intelligence and absorbing it in Bhagavān’s service. Such exalted saints who do so have conquered the mind.Śrī Guru sits in one place while chanting harināma and mantra; meanwhile all the offerings and Deity service run nicely in the temple. But this is only going smoothly by the power of Śrī Guru’s mānasī-sevā.One time, a brahmacārī asked Śrīla Gurudeva who manages and runs such big festivals like Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma and Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala parikramās.Śrīla Gurudeva replied that everything is maintained and done by Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī and the Guru-varga. Śrīla Gurudeva said, “One dog was walking underneath a rolling cart and thinking that he was the cause of the carts motion. Śrī Guru performs parikramā and thousands and thousands of devotees follow behind him automatically. Without his power no one would have the strength or ability to perform parikramā or follow bhakti.”Because of the internal mānasī-sevā of advanced Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, all external functions and services of the Deities and temples run naturally. If there is no internal service then externally nothing will go on. This is the specialty of Śrī Guru.Kāśī Miśra and the gurus in Jagannātha Purī would take bath in the ocean in the morning, and after donning tilaka, chanted their mantras while starting their internal service. Don’t think mānasī-sevā is imagination. When chanting guru-mantras, all paraphernalia is as near as your desire and thought. But if the mind’s nature is always to be restless and moving, then you cannot serve Bhagavān. The mind will run to wherever it has love and attraction. Pray to Śrīla Gurudeva for love of Kṛṣṇa, then naturally you will always remember Him.While performing mānasī-sevā sitting at this place of Gambhīrā, Kāśī Miśra would bathe Jagannātha, offer ornaments to Him and dress Him, and cook wonderful tasty foodstuffs and offer them as bhoga for Jagannātha. Mahāprabhu chose that nirguṇa place for His residence.It is said in śāstra, “The temple of Bhagavān is nirguṇa, transcendental.” But if a place is a temple in name only, while it is actually a place for sense enjoyers, than this is a tāmasika center. Those places that are reserved for the service of God are protected and cannot be entered by materialists. (click on the title to read the complete article)

Could He Control Himself?

By hearing this, Mahaprabhu would not have been able to control Himself. His krsnatva (His being in His identity as Krsna) would have become visible to all, and His pastime of giving raganuga-bhakti and tasting Radha’s mood would have been finished.

HOW TO CONNECT TO SRI GURU THROUGH WORSHIP

When Śrī Guru departs, he looks to see who among his followers wants his further association. He thus arranges a place for them to be with him. Those devotees read his teachings and glories. One who serves guru for his pleasure, not his own selfish desires, will soon meet with Śrī Guru again, even after his disappearance. The material and spiritual worlds are distinct and separate. Śrī Guru is transcendental, and one should endeavor to meet him on that plane through earnest prayer and meditation. He will then accept such service and will protect and maintain such devotees. Impersonalism or voidism has no connection with Śrī Guru; he is eternally present in his spiritual form and he is worshipful and worshiped when manifest in this material world as well as when unmanifest.

PART 1 WHY DID KRSNA TEST THE SADHANA-SIDDHA-GOPIS?

The Sruticari, Smrticari, Upanisadcari Gopis, and the Dandakaranya Rsis, who had come to Vraja and achieved the bodies of Gopis, performed Katyayani-vrata. After their vrata the Lord called them to perform rasa-lila. He brought them into His company and showed them His love and affection. In this way He accepted them and made them eligible for His company. In the Caitanya Caritamrta, it explains that a doctor gave a medicine to a person to cure a disease but upon taking it, the disease increased. This was because the sick person did not follow the proper diet and so forth, so he became even more sick. Similarly, the jivas pray to God for so many things, but even if you give it to them, they become so proud when they receive it. As soon as they get some position, post, or qualification, then their pride devours them. When Krsna danced, played, sang, and showed His affection to the Gopis, they became proud, thinking, “I am no less than anyone. I am the dearmost of God. I am the dearmost of Krsna.” In this way so much pride came within the sadhana-siddha-gopis, and they did not respect Srimati Radharani who is svarupa-sakti, and hladini-sakti, nor the nitya-siddha-gopis, therefore the Lord disappeared. What did the Gopis do when Krsna left them? They were experiencing so much separation from Him and were greatly lamenting. After meeting with Krsna there was so much joy, but when He left, they felt extreme separation. They began to search throughout the forest for Krsna. They asked everything and everyone, “Where is Krsna?” They asked the plants, the trees, the river, everything, but no-one was ready to give any answer or response to them. As long as the Lord is present in the heart, the jivas have some foundation and strength, but as soon as the Lord leaves or disappears, then the embodied souls have no position. Because of their karma they sometimes move in water, fire, air, ether, or earth. Without Paramatma (supersoul) the embodied souls have no form, and they move here and there in the elements like orphans. This is the fate of the ‘baddha-jivas’ - conditioned souls. Those who are ‘mukta’ liberated souls, can achieve Vraja-dhama in this world, ‘bhauma Vrindavan’. Before the liberated souls go to ‘aprakrta Vraja’ - transcendental Vraja, the Lord will give them many tests. The Vraja in this world is like a training center for the sadhana-siddhas, those who have achieved perfection through spiritual practice. Before Krsna met with the sadhana-siddhas-gopis in the Rasa dance, He tested them so much. He saw that they were not displeased with Him, nor were they selfishly thinking of themselves, so they passed the test. Krsna had previously danced, sang, and embraced the Gopis, filling them with the joy of meeting Him. He then thought, “I want to see what the sadhana-siddha-gopis will do.” This was like another test. Then what the Lord was thinking would happen, did indeed occur. They did not respect the other Gopis. The Lord then disappeared and the Gopis lamented greatly searching here and there for Him. After wandering far and wide throughout the forests and groves they finally saw the footprints of Krsna. Seeing these footprints, they realized that they had never taken shelter of the footprints of the Lord. They had never meditated on or taken shelter of the symbols that are on Krsna’s feet, like the flag, goad, fish, pyramid, pot, and conch. There are very beautiful symbols on the Lord’s lotus feet and these were present in the footprints. THE GOPIS BLAME KRSNA The Gopis began to meditate on these symbols. By the influence of this meditation their hearts became completely purified, and the pride of their good fortune in meeting with Krsna was washed away. Because they meditated on His feet, everything was cleansed. Now they began to experience their own shortcomings. Before they were very proud and they thought, “Why has He left us? Why has He given us up? This is His fault. This is wrong. We left everything and came here to meet Him, and now He has neglected us!” They were thinking there was some fault in the Lord’s activities. Although externally you couldn’t see this, Krsna thought, “Now I will see their behavior.” The sadhana-siddhas-gopis were not feeling, “Oh we have neglected and disrespected the nitya-siddha-gopis, the eternal associates of the Lord.” It was like they have entered the house by force and tried to become the masters of the house. For example, it is like when a rich and wealthy person has just married a girl from a poor village. Within two days she will challenge and try controlling everyone in an attempt to become the master of the house. She will think, “Who is this aunt? Who are these in-laws? Who is this mother-in-law?” This is called ‘gusbeti’. They enter the house and within a few days try to exert their influence and try to dominate everyone thinking, “This is my place, now you can leave. Get out.” They have no respect and those who were always there, who were the masters for many, many years, are shown contempt and disrespect. Then the wife tries to become the queen, but there is no value in it. Similarly, the Lord thought, “If they are competing here in ‘bhauma Vrndavan’, then what will they do in eternal Vraja?” It is not so easy to enter the eternal realm, so Krsna thought, “I will help purify them of this pride.” For this reason, He left with Srimati Radhika. THE GOPIS FIND FOOTPRINTS The Gopis then began to weep and search for Krsna. Finally, they reached the footprints of Krsna and began to pray and take shelter of them. Then they saw another set of footprints and thought, “Oh how dear this other Gopi must be to Krsna? How great She must be? How much greater than us She must be? But we did not respect Her, we neglected Her. How great She must be that Krsna left us all but He did not leave Her, therefore She is the most dear to Sri Krsna.” When they saw Srimati Radharani’s footprints, they also saw some other items including a broken garland, and flowers that had been picked and used by Krsna to decorate Srimati Radharani’s hair. In this way they developed some faith for Radharani. DIFFERENT TYPES OF SRADDHA AND ANURAGA There is one kind of faith that is called, ‘laukika’ meaning weak or material faith. Another one is paramarthika or transcendental faith. Laukika-sraddha, material faith, can easily be destroyed, it is very flimsy. But paramarthika-sraddha, transcendental faith, is much more firm and strong when one is progressing from sraddha to nistha, firm dedication and faith. And then further it develops to ruci - transcendental taste, and then on to asakti - transcendental attraction and deep attachment. Then finally to bhava - pure ecstatic emotion, and it even goes higher to sneha, raga, mana, pranaya, and anuraga, which is loving attraction. Until this state of faith has reached all the way up to the pure state of anuraga or loving attraction, then one still has anuraga or love for one’s own body, mind, and senses. You cannot use this anuraga solely for Sri Krsna, you do not have that strength. For one’s own happiness one is ready to do anything, however for someone else’s pleasure or happiness no one is ready to sacrifice themselves for the pleasure of another, they cannot possibly do this. Therefore, tad-anuragi-jananugami, we must follow in the footsteps of those who have this anuraga, and to follow them is considered the mature state of sadhana. Otherwise you may exhibit yourself as becoming a big babaji or sadhu, and show off so much faith, bang on the drums and karatals, but as soon as you are a little bit disturbed or disrespected, or there is some disturbance in your enjoyment and sense gratification, or maybe even a little chastisement and discipline from Guru and Vaisnavas, and you have to renounce all other things for service, then what will you do? You will enter your room or house and flee from service. This is laukika-sraddha - material faith, and it is very weak. Until you follow this instruction of Rupa Gosvami, to follow in the footsteps of those who have anuraga - pure devotion, you will not be able to progress to the higher stages of devotion. Once you follow this tad-anuragi-jananugami properly then you can progress to mana, pranaya, anuraga and so forth. Otherwise this laukika-sraddha (material faith) is not very valuable. When you achieve paramarthika-sraddha (transcendental faith) this will progress to higher and higher stages of bhakti. We should strive only for this, and be prepared to sacrifice everything, renouncing all our own comforts and selfish desires. We have to sincerely look and see, who is dear to Guru, who is most dear to Krsna, and then take shelter of them. THE GOPIS LEARN FROM RADHIKA’S PRAYERS Proceeding forward, the Gopis found Srimati Radhika senseless on the ground. They began to fan Her, and witnessed many different ecstatic symptoms on Her body, like perspiring, hairs standing on end, and a choked voice. This made their faith in Her develop even more. They took shelter of Her and asked Her, “How did You get here?” Those who have good qualities or good qualifications are actually exalted, when they experience any shortcoming they have, they are not shy to express this. They do not try to hide their faults. But we try to hide our faults. We lie, cheat, and steal, and then we will make ten or twenty people our witnesses to say, “No, this is a good person. They are not a thief, they are not a sinner, they are very good.” We think, “Everyone else is a sinner, everyone else is very bad, but I am so good.” We will arrange hundreds of people to give evidence in our favor. But a good person will not be afraid to show their faults. Srimati Radhika did not say, “Oh it was your fault that Krsna left with Me.” Instead She said, “Krsna left Me. I told Krsna, ‘I am tired and cannot walk any further’. This was My own pride. I tried to engage the Lord in My own service. How great a mistake this was and as a result of this, Krsna left Me.” The Gopis, hearing Srimati Radhika’s humility, could now understand Her exalted position. If those who occupy high positions are very exalted and advanced, have all good qualities, then those under them will also be decorated with these qualities. If they express their own faults, and are very open and honest, then those under their guidance will also become like that. Otherwise they will only develop more faults. If people from the outside criticize us, we should not think, “Why are they complaining and blaming?” but instead we should be ready to accept and see our own faults. The Gopis now realized, “We have made a mistake!” Hearing the prayers of Srimati Radhika and the nitya-siddha-gopis, which are full of svarupa-sakti, the sadhana-siddha-gopis understood that these prayers are real and proper. They thought, “Until this point, we were all praying, but what was our mood?” It is said that only Madhavendra Puri, Srimati Radharani, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu understood this sloka of Srimati Radhika. There was really no one else who could understand it. Mahaprabhu also performed kirtana of this verse. (CLICK ON THE TITLE TO READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE)

Prema-jyoti, the Effulgent Lamp of Love

When the gopīs embrace Kṛṣṇa, the kuṁkum from their chests come on Kṛṣṇa’s face, cheeks, forehead, and so forth. That is prema-jyoti, the effulgent lamp of love. That light is very powerful. This love touches Kṛṣṇa and is offered to Him...

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