If your diksa-guru is not giving proper honor to Vaisnavas, then he is not even a devotee. His name should be cut from the list of devotees. We must try to give honor to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s followers – and even to the followers of Sri Ramanujacarya, and those who are serving Laksmi-Narayana and Dvarakadish, although not the same respect as we give to ekantika-bhaktas of Krsna. We should give honor to the devotees of Krsna who are chanting and remembering, and at the same time try to know the gradations of devotees. If one is serving only Krsna, and if one is serving Radha-Krsna conjugal, and if one is very near and dear to Srimati Radhika, who will be given more honor? Of these three gradations of devotees, who is superior?
We should try to understand these gradations, otherwise we will see that Krsna, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, ordinary bhaktas, Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Haridasa Thakura, a Ramanuja bhakta, and a Dhruva-bhakta are all the same. We need to differentiate. A kanistha-Vaisnava cannot differentiate, and therefore our gurus have come to tell us, “You should not remain third-class kanistha-Vaisnavas.”
It is essential that we hear all these things and develop in our bhakti, so that we can clearly understand who are kanistha-Vaisnavas, who are madhyama-Vaisnavas, and who are uttama-Vaisnavas – who are conditioned souls and who are above conditioned life. Srivasa Pandita and Gadadhara Pandita came to this world, but they are not sadhana-siddha. They are eternal associates of Krsna. Haridasa Thakrua was both Brahma and Prahlada Maharaja.
But who was Rupa Gosvami? He was Rupa-manjari. In this lila, Rupa Gosvami used to take the foot-dust of Haridasa Thakura and Srivasa Pandita, but he is far, far, far superior to them. We should know all these truths.
Who preached more the heartfelt conceptions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in this world? Rupa Gosvami or Haridasa Thakura? Haridasa Thakura spread the holy name, and he was namacarya, but Rupa Gosvami was Mahaprabhu’s life and soul. He gave us all the books that were the heart of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, such as Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu and Ujjvala-nilamani.
How can we know all these truths without good association? If someone bans this and tries to stop others from going to qualified Vaisnavas, how can they themselves develop? Chanting alone will not suffice. Only chanting under the guidance of any good Vaisnava can take us to perfection.
May 5, 1996: Holland