Book excerpts Acarya Kesari Part 6: Protecting the Sri Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya

Part 6: Protecting the Sri Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya

Jagad-guru nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa aṣṭottara-śata Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura preached extensively, and in a very short time spread throughout the world the pure bhakti, or prema-bhakti, as practised and promulgated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. It is by his great endeavour that the sound of the mahā-mantra – Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare, Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare – is resounding in every part of the world today. After his entrance into the eternal pastimes of the Lord, the preaching current of pure bhakti greatly diminished. At that time, the followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, especially the Sārasvata Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, were attacked from all sides. Some so-called Sārasvata Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas were loudly propagating their own ideas. In this dire situation, our śrīla gurudeva, aṣṭottara-śata Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who was jagad-guru Śrīla Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda’s intimate associate, accepted sannyāsa by Śrīla Prabhupāda’s inspiration. He then tirelessly endeavoured until the end of his life to preach and spread his gurudeva’s inner heart’s desire. We are presenting herein a brief account of how he made the current of bhakti flow once again throughout the world and how he protected his sampradāya.

Śrīla Gurupāda-padma was a powerful and profoundly philosophical ācārya, adorned with immense genius and knowledge of tattva. He preached pure bhakti in two ways. First, he used scriptural evidence to establish the ideas practised and preached by Śrīman Mahāprabhu. Second, he refuted opinions that opposed siddhānta, such as the anti-devotional kevalādvaita-vāda, or māyāvāda (which is a hidden form of Buddhism), sahajiyā, smārta and jāti-vaiṣṇava, all of which are opposed to śuddha-bhakti.

It was Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, the Seventh Gosvāmī, who reinitiated the flow of bhakti when it had dwindled and almost disappeared. He preached in the modern world the essential aspects of Vaiṣṇava philosophy, such as bhagavat-tattva, śakti-tattva, bhakti-tattva, māyā-tattva and acintya-bhedābheda-tattva. Śrīla Gurudeva often declared that Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Daśa-mūla-tattva is the singular essence of all the literatures of the Śrī Gauḍīya sampradāya, including those of the six Gosvāmīs. Śrīla Gurudeva accepted Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as the immaculate scriptural evidence and the natural commentary on Vedānta-sūtra. Furthermore, he said that the nāma-prema-dharma (the religion of chanting the holy name in pure love), practised and propagated by Śrīman Mahāprabhu, is the actual subject matter of Vedānta. In order to establish these three points, he expressed the desire to publish a commentary expounding the glories of śrī harināma, based on the doctrine of śabda-vāda found in Vedānta-sūtra.

Śrīla Gurudeva also wanted to publish a commentary based on the devotional conclusions of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. He collected various written materials and began to prepare an outline of these two compositions, but he could not complete it because of his sudden entrance into nitya-līlā. It was observed at times that it was also his keen desire to publish commentaries on all the prominent Upaniṣads according to the viewpoints of his sampradāya.

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Jagannātha told Ramānujācārya, “Why did you fight with my servants? This is not your duty. It is My responsibility. You are guru and ācārya; if anyone comes to you for love, affection and shelter then it is your duty to help them. You have no right to judge and punish. You can give advice, but not remove them from My service.” Ācārya Rāmānuja accepted and Jagannātha’s service continued as before. All the pujārīs were serving Lord Jagannātha, offering Him bhoga, distributing prasādam and dressing Him. They have a very strong relation with Jagannātha. If a guru-sevaka or God’s servant does some wrong, any ordinary person cannot give punishment. They should be respected. Don’t criticize or look at their faults or else Gurudeva and God will be disturbed with you. Once there was a cow that went out to graze in the jungle. She saw some clear ponds and lush grass, so she went to drink some water and eat the grass and became stuck in deep mud. The more she tried to free herself the more stuck she became. A tiger saw the cow from the top of a nearby hill and thought to eat the cow. The tiger jumped down and also got stuck in the mud. By the evening the cow’s guardian came looking for the cow. He came and rescued his cow with a rope. The tiger thought that he would also be saved. They used the rope and pulled the tiger nearby but then killed the tiger and skinned it, taking its leather, nails and everything else. Don’t think to attack the servants of guru or God who have relation with Him. Even if they appear to stray or do many wrong things, they have a guardian. The next time Ācārya Rāmānuja came to Purī he never said anything to Jagannātha’s paṇḍās. In Jagannātha Purī, some pandas wear big gold chains and ornaments, abuse others, chew pan, steal, kick, and beat people, but there is not a problem. Jagannātha likes them. They have relation and love for Jagannātha.

Breakfast for the Soul – Govinda-lilamrta

When a person wakes in the morning, feeling rested and refreshed, he completes his duties such as bathing and is soon ready for breakfast. Many people arrange their breakfast the night before. They have tea, snacks, drinks and ice cream ready to quickly take in the morning. But Kavirāja Gosvāmī says that this food and drink is not helpful. It is for the body but not the soul. If you do not give the soul nectar first thing in the morning then it will suffer and become dry. All dealings and experience the entire day will be bitter. Tama, raja, and sattva—the three modes of material nature and any substance comprised of these qualities will disturb the soul. However, by accepting nirguṇa-tattva—by drinking līlā-rasa, the soul is nourished. Even a little of this can make the soul well, happy and strong. This is called soul food and it is very necessary. Food for the body is not everything. Serving this body does not result in any eternal benefit. The body always has desires and demands satisfaction, but really, these desires are endless and their fulfillment can never be had. We must give nectar to the soul. This nectar must be the drink we take upon the coming of each new day. Where can we collect this from? The guru-varga gives this soul nectar. If you are connected to the flow of līlā-śakti then that flow will naturally continue from you to others. All souls that come in contact with līlā-śakti will be very pleased. If you are connected to this flow, then the body will no longer disturb you. The body will know that you only give him or her nectar, and thus become peaceful. Millions of lives have passed and millions more will pass in service to the body and mind. If we take from God but do not serve Him—if we simply take His gifts and use them to serve our body then we will suffer. This is why many our lives are full of diseases and pain. Unless one gets this special mercy of the guru-varga, all of this will not stop. After being dressed and decorated, Kṛṣṇa and Balarama come for breakfast. They meet with the sakhās and together they sit in rows. Yaśodā Mātā brings many golden cups and tells Citrā Devī, "First give them drinks." There is coconut water mixed with sugar cane juice as the first drink. If a person drinks this his throat becomes very smooth. This is followed by many fresh fruit juices and refreshing beverages that cool the stomach. Śrīmati Rādhārānī and the Vraja-devīs have cooked so many preparations that it seem impossible to serve them all in one meal. During breakfast, Rādhārānī looks to see if Kṛṣṇa is eating. She and all the sakhīs are very happy to see Kṛṣṇa eat. They give Kṛṣṇa rice with ghee and on the side they serve, ginger, neem leaves, jute leaves, some more ghee lemon, ginger and salt on the side. Yaśodā Mātā says, "O Kṛṣṇa, this is very healthy prasāda, You should eat a lot.” Kṛṣṇa says, "If I eat too much what will be left for my friends?" As Yaśodā Mātā walks away a little Kṛṣṇa quickly distributed everything from His to His friends. All the sakhās laugh, and Kṛṣṇa says, "Why are you laughing? Just eat." Yaśodā Mātā looks back and sees that Kṛṣṇa was not eating. Then Madhumaṅgala says to her, "Mother, Kṛṣṇa is not eating anything. He distributes anything you give Him." Śrīmatī Rādhārānī sends many kinds of laḍḍus that Ranga-devī and Citrā-devī serve from gold plates and distributed them. Kṛṣṇa’s sakhās continue to joke with Him. "Kṛṣṇa, You must be sick or something,” they say. “Why aren't You eating these nice sweets? We'll call the doctor. That will be good for You. We will tell Yaśodā Mātā to call a doctor who will give very bitter juice. Then will You be happy?" "I'm not sick,” Kṛṣṇa retorts, “You are sick. You should drink neem juice!” “Why don't You eat then?” Then Kṛṣṇa’s plate is re-filled and He eats something. While breakfast is being served, sometimes Madhumaṅgala says, "Kṛṣṇa is very skinny. He cannot digest anything. He has no fire in His stomach. How can He eat rich foods like this, cooked with ghee, butter, and honey? How can He eat these sweets and drinks you are serving Him? These things are for His healthy sakhās like me." When Madhumaṅgala teases Him like this, Kṛṣṇa grabs handfuls of ghee rice from Madhumaṅgala’s plate. Madhumaṅgala then cries out, "Hey! Kṛṣṇa is stealing all my breakfast! O Yaśodā Mātā, I'm so hungry. Give me something more." Then Vrajeśvarī piles Madhumaṅgala’s plate with more prasāda. Madhamangala becomes very happy, but he says, "Eating this rice and dāl is not befitting for brāhmaṇas. Where is the halavā, laḍḍu, barphi, rabaḍi and kṣīra?" Why does Madhumaṅgala speak like this? He wants Kṛṣṇa to eat nicely. When these preparations come, he simply needs to tease Kṛṣṇa to make Him eat with gusto. If Kṛṣṇa is given these things calmly He will be uninterested. If someone gives Him a plate and says, “O Kṛṣṇa, please take this,” He will not want it. 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Srila Gurudeva on: "HOW TO BALANCE ONE'S DAY"

Śrīla Gurudeva held a special discussion. He gave strong instructions on how to balance one’s day: a balance of sādhana-bhajana and temple services, a balance of sādhana-bhajana and preaching activities, a balance of sādhana-bhajana and family responsibilities, and a balance of sādhana-bhajana and earning money. Gurudeva began by saying that those who are not demons but are not doing bhajana are like very ignorant donkeys, kicked by the hind legs of the she-donkeys and taking all the burden of the washerman.In Holland, Śrīla Gurudeva said: “Persons favorable to devotion are of two kinds, and those who are not following the process, the rules of devotees and devotion, are greater in number. Real devotees are few, and even among that small number there are many divisions. Most are initiated by unqualified, false gurus, and even those with bona fide gurus are of many types. Some think, ‘My fire sacrifice has been performed and I have a sacred thread; therefore I am initiated.’ Such persons wear big tilaka, but there is no dīkṣā in the true sense, and they are continuing their unfavorable or sinful activities. They are greater in number, and we may be also in this category. There is no thick relationship with Kṛṣṇa and no real knowledge of tattva—not of jīva-tattva, bhagavata-tattva, guru-tattva, māyā tattva, or prema-tattva. Even if they remember a mantra like ‘aiṁ guruve namaḥ,’ their minds are elsewhere. After ten minutes they think, ‘What am I doing?’ They were sleeping or just drifting off. Then, while chanting, ‘klīm caitanyāya vidmahe,’ the mind is absent for half an hour. Most of us are in this category of struggle.”Śrīla Gurudeva continued: “Worldly affairs come, our job or the like, and we are always very careful and cautious in these affairs. The mind is always there—in computers and here and there—and not in the guru-gayatri and the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra. A pure devotee comes and inspires them, but as soon as he leaves—nothing is in there. Such persons numbers are greater. Others cannot follow ‘tṛṇad api sunīcena’ or even Srila Rūpa Gosvāmī’s instructions in Upadeśāmṛta: ‘vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ.’ Some wear neck beads of only one strand, which do not even touch the neck. Even in the military there are some rules and etiquette, and the soldiers are punished if they do not follow them. If we cannot follow these things, how can we follow vraja-prema? Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His associates were all paramahaṁsas, but they all followed Vaiṣṇava etiquette. If we follow their rules and regulations, a taste will come. In school there is daily reading and requirements completing the tasks given by the teacher. First, vāco vegaṁ: control your tongue. The today, ‘I will not quarrel with my wife or husband, children, Gurudeva, and other devotees.’ Without this you cannot control your anger. Don’t take rich foodstuffs. The fault of overeating is not only the fault of the tongue. All five senses are guilty, including the eyes. Looking brings attachment. Don’t try to be astrologers, and don’t read books other than bhakti books. There is no harm if you have not studied in school and colleges. By chanting, remembering, and serving Gurudeva you will be happy. Nothing else will make you happy.“Don’t criticize all the Kaṁsas and Jarasandas. Spend your time in always glorifying Nanda, Yaśodā, the gopas, gopīs, Kṛṣṇa, and the devotees. Don’t care much for your life’s maintenance. A lower-class devotee can do so, but when you are mature, you have nothing to do in this regard. What you need will easily come. Don’t talk prajalpa. Chant one lākha of holy names daily. If this is not possible, then chant fifty-thousand names. If not, then thirty-two rounds. If not, then go to the ocean and at once jump in. You should certainly go to the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. Chant, but if your bona fide guru has come to give a lecture, then go and hear. Then your chanting will become high-class. Be confident that by doing all this, surely kṛṣṇa-prema will come. First finish these things, then do anything to maintain your life. The holy name will arrange everything for you.“Don’t associate with friends or family members if they are not devotees. They are all cheaters. If you are ugly, with two or three children, your husband will reject you and take a new wife. So, give up all your other jobs and come to śaraṇāgati—full surrender to Kṛṣṇa.”Some of the hundreds of devotees present were meeting Śrīla Gurudeva for the first time, and some had been waiting since the year before, counting the seconds. Some, although meeting with him in one or two countries each year, for the past three, four, or five years, were just now realizing the magnitude of their fortune in getting the most rare and precious association of such a high-class pure Vaiṣṇava from Vraja. Many within the various categories of devotees were now in the process of changing all their priories in life and were preparing to leave their money and position to remain with Śrīla Gurudeva. Holland was the first place of Śrīla Gurudeva’s preaching in the West. He was now fond of calling it “Holyland.” It was in Holland that he first initiated disciples outside of India. By now he had thousands of disciples in the West, and thus far this year’s tour had already made another three hundred fortunate in this way.

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