Parama-Dharma

sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
ahaituky apratihata
yayatma suprasidati
(Srimad-bhagavatam 1.2.6)

“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.”

The explanation of the word parama-dharma can be understood by Srila Rupa Gosvami’s verse defining uttama bhakti. We should follow this parama-dharma of chanting, remembering and meditating on Lord Krsna. Hari-katha (The naration of the Pastimes of Lord Krsna) is very powerful. Krsna has invested all His power in His name and His hari-katha. In fact, hari-katha is Krsna Himself. In the form of harinama (Krsnas Holy Name) and hari-katha, Krsna comes in your heart. You should strongly believe this. He will purify you of the greater part of your anarthas very soon. Then naistiki-bhakti will come, and after that the knots in your heart (hrdaya granthi) will be gone.

bhidyate hrdaya-granthis
chidyante sarva-samsayah
ksiyante casya karmani
drtsta evatmanisvare
(Srimad-bhagavatam 1.2.21)

“Thus the knots of the heart and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions, or karma, is terminated when one sees the self as master.”

tada rajas-tamo-bhavah
kama-lobhadayas ca ye
ceta etair anaviddham
sthitam sattve prasidati
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.19)

“As soon as irrevocable loving service is established in the heart, the effects of nature’s modes of passion and ignorance, such as lust, desire and hankering, disappear from the heart. Then the devotee is established in goodness, and he becomes completely happy.”

If you do not understand you can question me, and this question and answer period is called istagosthi. My door is always open, to hear any questions and to reply them.
Srimad-bhagavatam has described how Sri Vyasadeva engaged in this uttama-bhakti-yoga and was thus able to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

bhakti-yogena manasi
samyak pranihite ’male
apasyat purusam purnam
mayam ca tad-apasrayam
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.4)

“Thus he fixed his mind, perfectly engaging it by linking it in devotional service [bhakti-yoga] without any tinge of materialism, and thus he saw the Absolute Personality of Godhead along with His external energy, which was under full control.”

He saw Lord Krsna with all His associates, such as Sridama, Dama, Sudama, Vasudama, Stoka-krsna, Nanda Baba and Mother Yasoda, as well as Lalita, Visakha, Citra and all other gopis. He saw all the pastimes Krsna performed with them. The previously mentioned verses are the essence of the entire Srimad-Bhagavatam. If we will follow bhakti, we will also be able to see Krsna with His pastimes, and associates – and all our doubts and questions will disappear.

anyabhilasita-sunyam, jnana-karmady-anavrtam
anukulyena krsnanu-silanam bhaktir uttama
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.11)

“Uttama bhakti is the cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the benefit of Sri Krsna, in other words, the uninterrupted flow of service to Him, performed through all endeavors of the body, mind, and speech, and through the expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhavas). It is not covered by jnana (knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation) and karma (reward-seeking activity), yoga or austerities; and it is completely free from all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Krsna.”

The word uttama-bhakti is in this verse, so there must also be some lower classes of bhakti – mixed with karma, jnana, yoga, severe austerity and so on – and historical examples of devotees in those stages have been given in Srimad-bhagavatam.

We should especially know that service to Krsna with mamata a sense of “mineness” towards Lord Krsna is uttama-bhakti, and the increase of mamata in service places a devotee in successively higher stages.

Volgograd, Russia: September 14, 2004

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HOW STRONG WAS GURUDEVA'S CHARACTER?

Śrīla Gurudeva did not give dīkṣā initiations for more than two decades after Acarya Kesarī’s disappearance. Nonetheless, he was widely revered as a spiritual master during this me. Many accepted Śrīla Gurudeva as a parakīya-guru and in turn he accepted them as parakīya disciples. Devotees from ISKCON, other Gauḍīya Maṭhas, local brāhmaṇas and priests, and village people from different castes all respected and accepted Śrīla Gurudeva as their beloved teacher and guardian. Examples of parakīya-guru and disciples can also be seen in the lives of the Six Gosvāmīs and previous ācāryas. In some cases, the indirect disciple is superior to the direct disciple. If someone has offered everything to the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava, and the Vaiṣṇava has accepted one as his own, then mantra and dīkṣā are a formality. Our lineage is the bhāgavata-parampara—in which prominence is given to śikṣā, spiritual instruction. The siksa-guru increases faith in Gurudeva and Bhagavān and is as significant as the dīkṣā-guru. If one undergoes a formal dīkṣā ceremony yet never receives śikṣā, he will never be able to advance in bhakti. Śrīla Gurudeva told some of those who stayed with him, “You are my parakīya (indirect) disciples. This is a sweet relation.” The dīkṣā-guru protects his disciples by sending them to high-class Vaiṣṇava association. The path of anugatya is illuminated by the disciplic succession: the mañjarīs serve under the guidance of the sakhīs, the Guru-varga serves under the guidance of the mañjarīs, and the Vaiṣṇavas serve under guidance of the Guru-varga. For sādhakas it is thus essential to follow the footsteps of those Vaiṣṇavas who are intimately connected to the Guru-varga. Then one will not endeavor to cultivate worldly friends and will certainly advance on the path of pure devotion for Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Various ācāryas would send their brahmacārī disciples to Śrīla Gurudeva to learn how to practice strict sādhana. Also, followers of different spiritual masters would seek the guidance of Gurudeva after their own guru had departed. Over the following years, in addition to the numerous disciples of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja who trained under Śrīla Gurudeva, many disciples of Śrīla Bhakti Jīvana Janārdana Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Śrīrupa Siddhāntī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Sāraṅga Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, Śrīla Gour Govinda Mahārāja, as well as other ācāryas, trained under Śrīla Gurudeva. Gurudeva welcomed and cared for everyone. He always received the spiritual masters of those who came to him and taught those disciples how to properly serve their own guru; he never encouraged them to neglect their guru. He acted as siksa-guru without selfish motives. Many disciples of different gurus dwelt there harmoniously, yet everyone worshiped their own spiritual master with the full support and encouragement of Śrīla Gurudeva. When brahmacārīs of different gurus recited jaya-dhvani (names of spiritual masters and holy places declaimed before and after temple programs), Gurudeva instructed them to first praise the name of their own spiritual master. Such an ideal Vaiṣṇava is met only by great fortune. Srila Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Gosvami Maharaja, and Srila Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvami Maharaja, were best of friends and closer than brothers. Although Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja was the official acarya, he always collaborated with Śrīla Gurudeva and Śrīla Trikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and together they made all the decisions for the maintenance and development of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samitī. These three godbrothers, known as the three pillars of the Samitī, first discussed issues together, and later had open meetings with the other members of the society. For a spiritual organization to be successful and to prevent it from being derailed from the authorized ideology and lineage, self-realized souls must be in positions of authority. The ideas of ordinary people generally cause disharmony. Before giving dīkṣā initiations during festivals such as Gaura-pūrṇimā, Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would offer Śrīla Gurudeva prostrated obeisance—Gurudeva naturally returned the respectful gesture. Even though Śrīla Gurudeva was junior, Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would humbly say, “I am about to perform a sinful act, taking on the sins and offenses of these people. Please protect me.” Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvami Maharaja sent many of those he initiated—and who wished to be brahmacārīs—to study under the guidance of Śrīla Gurudeva at Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha in Mathurā. Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would instruct them, “Go stay under the guidance of Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja and learn from him. If you disrespect or disobey the Vaiṣṇavas, and they dismiss you, then I will also not give you any shelter.” Whenever Pūjyapāda Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja would come to Mathurā, he would bring many gifts like brooms, Bengali vegetables—banana flowers, jafru, parmal—cloth for the Deities and the Vaiṣṇavas, and sundries; he never came empty-handed. Śrīla Gurudeva would occassionaly invite Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja to Mathurā to give dīkṣā initiations to Mathurāvāsīs or brahmacārīs who were prepared. When these pure Vaiṣṇavas met, they offered praṇāma to each other and then spent many hours sitting side by side, engaged in conversation. Śrīla Gurudeva would give all the donations he had received to Śrīla Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who would in turn give everything he had collected to Śrīla Gurudeva. These collections were then mutually entrusted with the treasurer of the Gauḍīya Vedānta Samitī, Kṛṣṇa-kṛpā Prabhu, and when funds were needed for festivals or for maintaining various temple projects, they withdrew and used them accordingly. Śrīla Trikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja also reserved donations he received throughout the year during his collections in the area of Chunura, from Uddhāraṇa Gauḍīya Maṭha, and he would deposit this with his godbrothers when they met four or five times annually. These three ideal godbrothers had complete trust in each other and they thus harmoniously served the cause of their divine master. Sometimes godbrothers or their disciples came from other temples and stayed with Śrīla Gurudeva in Mathurā. He always taught them to respect and worship their own Gurudeva. Śrīla Gurudeva encouraged everyone to follow the appearance and disappearance days of all Vaiṣṇava-ācāryas; indeed, Śrīla Gurudeva himself respected and followed their āvirbhāva and tirobhava festivals. Śrīla Gurudeva always taught how to properly follow Vaiṣṇava etiquette by his own example. Śrīla Gurudeva instructed the brahmacārīs, “Never think that other Vaiṣṇavas besides your guru should not be respected. Śrī Caitanya

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