Hari-kathaArticlesDivine Qualities of a Vaishnava

Divine Qualities of a Vaishnava

Discourses on Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura’s
Prema-bhakti-candrikā – The Moonbeams of Love Divine
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 20–25
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “O Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī and Rāya Rāmānanda, hear from Me the symptoms of how you should chant the holy name to very easily awaken your inherent love for Kṛṣṇa.
One who considers himself more humble than a blade of grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect respect but is always ready to honor others can very easily chant Kṛṣṇa’s holy names continuously. Although he is very elevated, he thinks himself lower than straw on the street, and like a tree, he tolerates everything in the following two ways.
When someone cuts a tree, it does not protest, and even when it is very dry, it does not ask for water. The tree gives its fruits, flowers, and whatever else it has to one and all. It tolerates burning heat and showers of rain, yet it still gives shelter to others.

Although a Vaiṣṇava is the topmost person, he is devoid of false pride and gives honor to everybody, knowing all to be the resting place of Kṛṣṇa. If you chants Kṛṣṇa’s holy name, he will certainly awaken your inherent love for Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet.”

Four symptoms are observed in sādhakas who chant the holy name of Śrī Kṛṣṇa free from all offenses: (1) natural humility born of complete detachment from sense objects, (2) pure compassion devoid of envy, (3) purity of heart and freedom from false ego, and (4) an attitude of respect towards everyone according to their position.

A pure Vaiṣṇava has patience and tolerates everything. When someone insults or tortures him, he will not be disturbed. If anyone says, “You are a fallen soul,” the Vaiṣṇava will have no problem and will not give up his harināma and hari-sevā. Anyone may attack or disturb him, but the Vaiṣṇava will not think badly about that person; rather, he will give blessings and mercy.
He respects all according to their position. If someone insults the Vaiṣṇava, he will give respect and all types of help. He knows that everything happens by the desire of God and if he becomes distracted in mundane affairs, he will stop his engagement in service of God.
Mahāprabhu taught that of all the limbs of devotion, nāma- kīrtana is the most essential.
Some say, “I cannot perform nāma-kīrtana, I will practice smaraṇa.” He thinks and closes his eyes to remember God, but after two minutes he falls asleep. Or else, impressions from millions of lives will come in the mind, one after the other, in a serial. Nāma-saṅkīrtana is very powerful. If your mind is disturbed, loudly chant, “Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare / Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare!”

Chant very fast, not giving one instant of time for māyā to enter. Declare war on māyā, saying, “If you try to disturb me, I will disturb you also! If you send me the balance of millions of lives of impressions, I will not accept them! Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare / Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare! How can you catch me from behind? I am running very fast with Kṛṣṇa!”

Our past impressions run behind us, imploring, “Don’t leave us. Don’t chant harināma. Remember us. We are your good friends.”

Say, “No! Haribol! Hare Kṛṣṇa! I don’t like you anymore.”

This is a big fight, a big battle. If you don’t chant harināma, the soldiers of māyā will be very happy with you. But when you chant guru-mantra, they will attack you from behind and all sides, not only mentally but physically as well.

Haridāsa Ṭhākura did not try to disturb anyone or even go to anyone, yet still, a prostitute came and tried to seduce him. She wore revealing clothes and showed him so many poses. He did not call or invite her. Haridāsa Ṭhākura was nirbandha- kṛṣṇa-sambandha, constantly engaged in the service of Kṛṣṇa with relation. He had no other business. He said to the prostitute, “I have no time. I must complete my harināma.” How long could she wait?

If you run very fast with Hare Kṛṣṇa, māyā will try to shoot you from behind and pull you back with many hooks. If you are fixed in your practice, all her attempts will fail, but if you look back, you will be involved with those things and again forget harināma.

When sādhakas first start their practice and training, they should sit in front of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas—if not directly, then in front of their pictures—or sit in front of Ṭhākurajī, like Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Jagannātha, Tulasī, and so forth, and deeply chant.

If anything comes to distract the sādhaka, he should not give it even one moment of chance. In the beginning, smaraṇa is not possible for a sādhaka. He must perform śravaṇa and kīrtana.

However, after taking dīkṣā, the sādhaka should take shelter of the Vaiṣṇavas. As a gardener first ploughs a field and then plants seeds, Vaiṣṇavas help the disciples of Guru-pāda- padma to understand their guru, how to chant guru-mantra, how to pray, and how to seriously chant harināma.

Vaiṣṇavas do not say, “You have taken dīkṣā, now you are perfect.” They do not cheat like this.

Kṛṣṇeti yasya giri taṁ manasādriyeta—when someone first starts chanting harināma and comes to the Vaiṣṇavas, the Vaiṣṇavas will respect him within their mind, but will not honor him outwardly, saying, “You are a high class Vaiṣṇava.” That would be cheating.

The Vaiṣṇavas know, “Now, this field needs to be ploughed and cultivated. It is filled with weeds and thorns, which must all be removed.”

For example, two people came to a harmonium expert. The teacher asked, “Do you want to learn the harmonium?”
“Yes.”

One said, “I have practiced for the last three years.”

The other said, “I don’t know anything.”

The teacher said to the man who had practiced for the last three years, “I will teach you for three thousand rupees per month.” And to the other he said, “You need only give three hundred rupees per month.”

The first one was very disturbed and said, “I practiced for three years and have some experience. Why are you asking ten times more from me than from the man who knows nothing?”

“Yes,” the teacher said, “the new person knows nothing. He will follow whatever I teach. You have learnt many things wrong and I will have to work very hard to make you forget all your past knowledge. Only after that will I be able to instill my knowledge in you.”

Many people come to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas with so-called qualification. They think they know so much, but their hearts are like fields full of thorns, grasses, and wild weeds. First, the Vaiṣṇavas must cut and remove all these weeds by the root; otherwise it is impossible to make a nice garden.

The Vaiṣṇavas must work very hard, and then they can make a beautiful flower garden with jasmine, rose, belī, camelī, and so forth.

Ordinary people have no understanding of what bhakti, bhajana, and Vaiṣṇavism are. They think, “I went to a guru and took dīkṣā. Now I am very respectable, a higher authority. My understanding is great.”

They memorize verses from the scriptures and begin to lecture with what they have heard from Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, but they have no realization. Their mundane nature has not changed; they have not crossed māyā, nor have they become related to Hari, Guru, Vaiṣṇavas, and pure devotion. They only know some verses or rules and regulations of Vaiṣṇavism, but they are very proud. This is a problem. Guru and Vaiṣṇavas say, “First stop your business, this is not helpful for anyone.”

Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu started His saṅkīrtana movement in a private house, without allowing outsiders to enter. When the devotees had become related to harināma, had relished nāma-rasa and become greedy for that, had lost their mundane knowledge and become completely absorbed in bhajana, then Mahāprabhu said, “Now go and distribute.”
Āpani nā kaile dharma śikhāna nā yāya (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi- līlā 3.20–21). If you have not practiced in your own life, and have not taken shelter of Vaiṣṇavas, by preaching here and there with your own understanding, trying to control others, no one will be benefited. No one will listen. And if they do, they will not practice in their life. If they practice, then they will not realize anything.

śreyaḥ-sṛtiṁ bhaktim udasya te vibho
kliśyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
teṣām asau kleśala eva śiṣyate
nānyad yathā sthūla-tuṣāvaghātinām
Srīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.14.4

“O My Lord! You are the ultimate abode of auspiciousness‚ and devotion is the best and only method to obtain You. The four goals of mankind, such as mokṣa, are easily achieved by doing bhakti, just as water flows from a reservoir uninterruptedly.

When one performs bhakti, one automatically attains all knowledge, so one need not endeavor separately for jñāna. Those who give up the path of bhakti and engage in painful endeavors to attain jñāna, obtain only misery and nothing else, just as those who beat empty husks receive no gain but their own fruitless hard labor. No rice comes from the husks.”

If you put husks in a grinder and works very hard, no grains will come out. Similarly, if you haven’t taken shelter of the Vaiṣṇavas, practiced guru-mantra, endeavored to develop guru- bhakti, chanted harināma, and understood the glories of Nāma Prabhu, everything you do will be imitation.

After a long time, by the mercy of Nāma Prabhu, you will attain sādhu-saṅga and only then will you collect strength, energy, power, and taste. Without taste, you will follow bhakti for only some time and then give it up. If you have no energy, you will remain weak. You will chant harināma for one day, but then lose your japa- mālā. You will serve for a few days and then think, “This is just mundane work. It is bogus.”

Therefore, you must take shelter of the Vaiṣṇavas. Vaiṣṇavas will dig, check, and test, “Where is this person? What is his position?” Then they will say, “Chant harināma seriously,” and teach the proper process to do so.

At first, the Vaiṣṇavas may appear very hard, for they must operate on the anarthas of the sādhakas. It is for this purpose that Śrī Guru-pāda-padma, after giving harināma and dīkṣā, sends his disciples to the Vaiṣṇavas.

Mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇavas give a training course to the practitioners of bhakti-yoga. If the sādhaka doesn’t follow the course, he will not progress.

Discourses on Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura’s
Prema-bhakti-candrikā – The Moonbeams of Love Divine
A Bhakta Bandhav Publication

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