[Hari-kathā inspired by the Guru-varga]
From this Kṣetra-maṇḍala, Jagannātha Purī, Mahāprabhu distributed harināma-saṅkīrtana throughout the entire world. How can we chant harināma? Mahāprabhu Himself taught how to chant harināma. First He heard, and then gave instructions with pure energy. Without this spiritual power, the living entities may try with their own strength for some days, but it will not be continuous.
Mahāprabhu gives qualification to accept shelter of Śrī Guru and make relationship with harināma. We chant harināma, but pray for Harināma Prabhu to give us things other than pure bhakti. We do not do anything for the happiness of Harināma Prabhu. Harināma Prabhu is our supreme authority, but we do not believe this. We give this position to others.
Mahāprabhu requested Haridāsa Ṭhākura to explain the glories of harināma. He did not Himself describe nama-tattva. Haridāsa Ṭhākura practiced harināma with faith and dedication, therefore anything he spoke for the jīvas would be beneficial to them.
Mahāprabhu would also chant harināma day and night. Once, as Mahāprabhu was going to the bathroom, He caught his tongue and a small boy named Gopāla asked Mahāprabhu, “O Prabhu, why are You holding your tongue?”
“This tongue does not hear My instruction,” Mahāprabhu replied to the boy. “Even if I tell it to stop chanting harināma, it continues to chant without cessation. Therefore I hold it while I’m in the bathroom.”
“Prabhu,” said Gopāla, “when someone is leaving his body, and because of his illness and fear, passes stool and urine, should he chant harināma or not?”
“Yes, he should chant,” Mahāprabhu replied.
“Then why are You holding Your tongue?” asked Gopāla.
Mahāprabhu said, “Yes, this is true! Now you are my Guru.”
Because of this incident, this boy Gopāla became known as “Gopāla-guru Gosvāmi.”
Mahāprabhu continuously chants and practices harināma, but He has given the request to Haridāsa Ṭhākura to describe the glories of harināma. Haridāsa Ṭhākura is Lord Brahmā incarnate, and when he instructs the jīvas to chant the holy name they will be empowered to do so. Many people chant, but their aspiration is not pure bhakti. They take from Harināma Prabhu, but do not offer anything to Him. They have no relationship with Harināma Prabhu.
We see many gurus who help the jīvas. This can be considered hari-sevā depending on how much relationship they have with Harināma Prabhu, and how much they serve Him. If they do not possess these characteristics, then their disciples will also not follow Harināma Prabhu.
Preachers go out to spread bhakti and they say, “Follow me. Follow anything I say.” If they don’t show by example however, then their followers will also become like them. A preacher must be able to remain detached from mundane things, and solely dedicated to harināma. If they are attached to their followers, while they themselves are not strongly related to harināma, then they will go down.
Anything that comes to you, you must offer to Guru and Kṛṣṇa. Then you will remain free from anarthas. Otherwise, when you preach the glories of harināma, you will simply become entangled in māyā, and your time for performing harināma will be lost, being too much absorbed in maintaining your followers. People claim, “I’m doing so many things.” Yet if you are actually serving, and receiving sukṛti, then your taste for harināma will surely increase. Yaśodā Mātā does so many services, but she never forgets Kṛṣṇa. The Vraja-devīs do so many things morning to evening, but they never forget Kṛṣṇa.
If whatever you do increases uddīpana and remembrance of Kṛṣṇa, then that is called bhakti, devotional service. Otherwise you will only go down toward hell. By accepting followers, you are arrested by them, and embraced by attachment to them. This is very dangerous.
So Mahāprabhu requested Haridāsa Ṭhākura, “Please describe the glories of harināma.”
Haridāsa Thakura replied, “O Prabhu, I will speak whatever words You inspire me to speak. If I say anything untrue, please correct me. Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord of all lords. His potencies bestow all strength and opportunity for the jīvas to approach him intimately. Nāma and nāmī are non-different.”
When you chant harināma, pray and invite Kṛṣṇa, then you will get relationship and friendship with Him and will serve Him. This is your duty as a living being. If you chant morning to evening, praying and inviting Kṛṣṇa to come to you, but you do not serve Him, then this is not pure bhakti. You think that chanting 64 rounds is like a duty, and that after completing your harināma, you become free.
Kṛṣṇa has all potencies, power and infinite greatness. When you pray to Kṛṣṇa, pray, “O Lord, please give me good qualities, and the taste to serve You and be present with You. I have so many anarthas, and they pull me here and there to serve māyā. I run around for my own name and fame. O Lord Kṛṣṇa, this is very painful and bad for me. Please allow me to come to Vraja and serve you under guidance of the Vraja-vasis.”
If you do not pray to Kṛṣṇa like this, you will remain attached to things like rasagullas, bananas, sandeśa, nice cloth, money, followers and fame. You will take these things from Harināma Prabhu, and go very far away. Your desire to chant harināma will not last long. While chanting harināma, have no external desires. Do not try to engage Kṛṣṇa in your service.
Once, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa went to the forest and saw a sādhu who had a sword as well as a bow and arrow. He was sharpening his sword and arrows very seriously. Arjuna asked him, “You are a sādhu, why are you doing this?”
“Why are you asking? You should not challenge sādhus.”
“It is not good for sādhus to have weapons.”
“Why do you question me. Who are you?”
Arjuna said, “Please, I do not understand your activities.”
“Well, if you must know, I have these weapons and keep them sharp, because whenever I see Arjuna, I will cut him into many pieces with this sword. And if I ever see Draupadī, I will shoot her in the heart with this bow and arrow.”
Hearing this, Arjuna began to shake, and fell on the ground.
“Why?” He asked. “What is the reason?”
“Arjuna chants Kṛṣṇa’s name, calls to Kṛṣṇa, and then employs Him as his servant. He makes Kṛṣṇa his charioteer. Moreover, he does not even make Him his own servant! He even made Him the servant of his horses! He had Kṛṣṇa feed grass to his horses, massage them and give them water to drink. The living beings should serve Kṛṣṇa, not make Kṛṣṇa their own servant.”
We chant harināma, and pray for Him to free us from all mundane anxieties, diseases and sickness. But if a phone call comes while we are chanting, we’ll put down our mālā and pick up the phone. Nāma is secondary, and whoever is calling, that is our “Prime Minister”. Why are you thinking about anything else and going far away from Kṛṣṇa? How can you really be with Kṛṣṇa? No one resides in the desert or in the sky. Calling Kṛṣṇa is not enough. “Kṛṣṇa is my friend, Kṛṣṇa is my beloved. I will serve Kṛṣṇa. I will make a nice seat for Kṛṣṇa and I will call Kṛṣṇa to come. I will arrange many nice things for Him.”
Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī would make a nice seat for Kṛṣṇa as well as pastes like Sandal, aguru, kastūrī. Then he would make sweet rice. He would perform the abhiṣeka of Kṛṣṇa with a golden pot of water, then carefully apply tilaka to Kṛṣṇa. Then he went to milk the cows, and brought back the milk to prepare sweet rice in a golden pot.
If you cannot do like this, then first forbid your mind, “While chanting O mind, do not go away from Kṛṣṇa. Do not think about māyā. Be present with Kṛṣṇa.” Where is Kṛṣṇa? “My Kṛṣṇa is at Govardhana. My Kṛṣṇa is in Vṛndāvana. My Kṛṣṇa is in Nandagrāma.” I will go there and offer praṇāma to all the Vraja-vasis, and will request them, “Please give me a chance to be Kṛṣṇa’s servant. Please give me the qualification to serve Kṛṣṇa. I have no taste, and I am a great rascal. My mind is always running here and there while collecting mundane things.” Pray to the Vaiṣṇavas, “Please give me the taste to serve Kṛṣṇa and to be related with the Vraja vasis.” Then chanting harināma, you will receive a service, and becoming engaged in that service your mind will never be restless. Otherwise, you will be bound to try and make Kṛṣṇa your servant when chanting harināma. You will pray to Kṛṣṇa, “Give me happiness. Give me respect. Give me name and fame. I want to speak so eloquently. I want a nice temple and garden, and a large bank balance.” You want Kṛṣṇa to serve you every minute. Kṛṣṇa will say, “You are chanting and pulling Me to serve you.” Then Kṛṣṇa’s servants will instruct you, “Don’t chat anymore.” Gurudeva gives us instruction to chant harināma, but then we always disturb Kṛṣṇa. Then māyā will arrange for us to forget harināma. We will set down our mālā on the wall and mice will come inside the bag and make it into their nest. The mice will give birth to babies in that beadbag, otherwise a monkey will take it and wear it around his neck. Somehow or another, we will lose our harināma.
Mahāprabhu instructs, “If you chant harināma, but have no relation with Hari and no desire to serve Him, then certainly you will give up chanting and will never progress toward achieving pure bhakti.”
We chant harināma and guru-mantra, and think of māyā. Gurudeva says, “When chanting harināma, offer yourself to Guru-pāda-padma and do praṇāma to the Vaiṣṇavas. In the mind, go to the holy dhāma and pray, “Please give me some chance, some tendency and mood to serve Kṛṣṇa.” This is called śakti-yoga. Pray for this śakti, energy.
The jīvas are very weak, and their minds and intelligence are very small and insignificant. They have no capacity to follow bhakti. While their bodies are young, they are especially attracted to māyā. When they see a charming face, they are ready to surrender themselves to it. They want to come close to the person with that face. When chanting harināma, they think of these objects of māyā and become so attracted to these urinal pots which they go to lick, and thus ride the train to hell. Even then, they do not pray to Kṛṣṇa, “I am like a pig. O Prabhu, please save me! Where have You gone? How can I come back to You? I have this habitual nature from so many millions of lives, but please save me.”
If you request Kṛṣṇa like this, then He will send Guru and Vaiṣṇavas to lift you out of the sewage of māyā.
Śrīla Gurudeva had a strong tri-daṇḍa . He would beat the brahmacārī’s with his daṇḍa or sometimes with his umbrella. Often, he would use his wooden shoes. If a brahmacārī went out from the temple, he would beat him. Gurudeva would look to see who came and went from the temple. He had his room nearby the door, and when a brahmacārī came inside, he would slap him and say, “Where were you?”
This strong personality is necessary if we want to progress in bhakti. If everything is very easy, we will be very busily engaged in māyā and will not be able to control ourselves. We are not afraid enough of māyā; we are careless and fearless.
Therefore, while chanting harināma, come to the holy dhāma and to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas. If your mind is not surrendering to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas and the holy dhāma, then drag it by force. Tell your mind, “If you don’t chant and come to the holy dhāma or feet of the Vaiṣṇavas, I will not give you any food or drink! First practice harināma and serve, then I will give you some facility.”
Be strong with your mind, then it will be scared and will not disturb you more. It may try to disturb you for a few days, and then it will come in the proper line. First chant, then give the mind and body food and water. Otherwise control your breath. Say, “O mind, you are running here and there?” Then stop breathing. Now how long will your mind disturb you? You can even leave your body, but chant. This must be your conviction. Be very strong.
Our ācāryas perform puraścaraṇa. Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī, Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, and all our ācāryas performed strong austerities like this. They show us by their perfect example how we should behave, otherwise we would only continue chanting nāma-aparādha.
kabhu nāmābhāsa haya, sadā nāma-aparādha
e saba jānibe bhāī, kṛṣṇa-bhaktir bādha
“Certainly there is only nāma-aparādha when one performs āsat-saṅga. Sometimes, by great fortune, there is nāmābhāsa, but you should know that both nāmābhāsa and nāma-aparādha are obstacles for kṛṣṇa-bhakti.”
Pray to Kṛṣṇa to be empowered with this śakti. Cry to Him for mercy. We like māyā-śakti so much, but we do not pray to Kṛṣṇa for his transcendental śakti. If we are chanting harināma without this relation and service tendency, then many living entities will come and eat us like ants eat a large snake. If we chant harināma and meanwhile pursue māyā-śakti, that Māyā-devī will say, “Oh, you like me?” Then she will cut us up into many small pieces and throw us into hell.
Pray to parā-śakti, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Then your harināma will be successful.
It is stated in Śri Gautamīya-tantra:
devī kṛṣṇamayī proktā
kāntiḥ sammohinī parā
“Śrī Rādhikā is the Supreme Goddess, the exclusive abode of Kṛṣṇa’s loving pastimes, and the shelter of all goddesses of fortune. She is the most beautiful. She is Kṛṣṇa-mayī. She is incessantly absorbed in Kṛṣṇa. She is the embodiment of all splendor, and is the enchantress of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s heart.”
If you take shelter of any māyā-śakti, then this life and millions of lives to come will be lost. While you chant, come to svarūpa-śakti and take Her shelter.
Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa’s śakti are non-different, as it is with fire. Its heat and its light are non-different. When you chant harināma, kṛṣṇa-śakti Rādhārānī is not separate.
rādhe! jaya jaya mādhava-dayite
“O Rādhā! All glories to You! All glories to You, the most beloved of Mādhava! You are the most celebrated among all the young damsels of Gokula.”
“The beautiful way You dress causes Śrī Dāmodara’s attachment for You to swell. You are the presiding Goddess of Śrī Hari’s pleasure groves in the forests of Vṛndāvana.”
lalita-sakhi-guṇa ramita viśākhe
“From the milk ocean of Śrī Vṛṣabhānu Mahārāja’s affection, You have arisen like a beautiful young moon. O dear friend of Lalitā, by Your qualities of playfulness and friendship You have enchanted the heart of Your intimate sakhī, Viśākhā.”
karuṇāṁ kuru mayi karuṇā-bharite
“You are so full of mercy that great yogīs and brahmacārīs like Śrī Sanaka Kumāra and Sanātana Kumāra are always engaged in describing Your exalted nature, so please be merciful to me!”
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has also composed many beautiful prayers. While chanting, pray with these songs and the verses of Śrīmad-bhāgavatam and the literature of our gosvāmīs. Always meditate, “How will svarupa-śakti be pleased with me?” She is very kind, but still we neglect her.
We do not like our mother. We like prostitutes instead. A mother will not sit in the same place as a prostitute. How can we stay with bahiraṅga-śakti māyā and expect svarūpa-śakti to give us mercy? We are always attracted to bahiraṅga-śakti, like a lusty man is attracted to a prostitute. Yet we have no attachment, nor desire to serve svarūpa-śakti who is like our mother. If this is our situation, then svarūpa-śakti will not remain with us.
Kṛṣṇa is omnipresent, and nāma is omnipresent. Śakti is His vaibhava; His glories and beauty. She has all-controlling power. If this transcendental śakti comes to you, you will be extremely powerful and māyā or anything mundane will never be able to touch you. Make your heart a garden for svarūpa-śakti, then you can cross māyā. If you have no place for svarūpa-śakti in your heart and you chant with attachment to māyā-śakti, then svarūpa-śakti will not come to protect you.
Haridāsa Ṭhākura described that there are three kinds of śakti and that Kṛṣṇa’s nāma and His śakti is non-different. When you chant harināma, make a place for svarūpa-śakti within your heart. Then Kṛṣṇa will definitely give you His mercy. Otherwise if you chant Kṛṣṇa’s names, but have no place for His śakti, then He will not be happy with you.
For instance, if in a temple there is no place for guru-varga, then Vaiṣṇavas will not come there. Then it is not called a temple, it is a hotel. It is a business center. Similarly, if your heart has no room for Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, svarūpa-śakti or antaraṅga-śakti, and you chant harināma, other things will come, but not the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. Your harināma will result only in mundane business.
When śakti comes, then all vaibhava and goodness will come. Kṛṣṇa has 64 qualities, His incarnations have 60 qualities and the living beings have up to 50. All our good qualities however, have been lost because of our entanglement in māyā. When we make a place for svarūpa-śakti in our hearts, then all good qualities will come to us. When svarūpa-śakti is present in the heart, then Kṛṣṇa will be present there in His original form. Then one’s life will be successful.
There are three kinds of vaibhava; one is cid-vaibhava and another is acid-vaibhava. Cid-vaibhava includes the eternal spiritual worlds; Goloka Vṛndāvana, Vaikuṇṭha and Bhagavān’s other dhāmas. When we have no relation with svarūpa-śakti or Kṛṣṇa, then we will be with jīva-vaibhava (the third vaibhava) and acid-vaibhava.
There are two kinds of jīvas; liberated and conditioned. The liberated souls may appear in this world, but have no relation to anything here. They are always engaged in bhakti. Conditioned souls however, become more and more attached to the things of this world. They inhabit places where the modes of nature rule, and become more and more degraded. When we are influenced by māyā-vaibhava we think everything is mine. We say, “This is mine, mine, mine.” We become a miser. When we say, “Everything is mine; this house is mine; these children are mine; this woman is mine,” then we are arrested by māyā.
This is māyā’s vaibhava. On all sides, the conditioned soul is ensnared by māyā. We come alone, and we will go alone. All property and assets will remain, for it is Kṛṣṇa’s property. How can we say it is ours? If we say it is ours, then we are thieves. Nothing is ours in this world, only Kṛṣṇa is ours, but we don’t think like this.
So there is cid-vaibhava, jīva-vaibhava and acid-vaibhava. Haridāsa Ṭhākura now describes cid-vaibhava.
Vaikuṇṭha, Rāma-loka, Dvārakā, Kṛṣṇa-dhāma, Govinda, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Hari, the incarnations of Hari; this is all cid-vaibhava. The dvi-bhuja Muralīdhara Kṛṣṇa, or the two armed Kṛṣṇa who plays the flute, is the Absolute form of Godhead (svayam-bhagavan).
Kṛṣṇa bestows rasa; vraja-rasa, bhakti-rasa and prema-rasa in two places, Vraja-dhāma and Navadvīpa-dhāma. In Navadvīpa-dhāma this rasa is distributed by His saṅkīrtana-rasa and in Vraja, it is distributed through His rāsa-līlā. Without this rasa, the jīva cannot attain svarūpa-siddhi and spiritual power.
Daily, we collect the rasa of māyā. We consume vegetable rasa, grain rasa, water rasa, and so many things. This bestows mundane energy upon us and increases our attachment to māyā. Kṛṣṇa however, distributes transcendental vraja-rasa during rāsa-līlā. This rāsa-līlā is His process for distributing spiritual energy and rasa.
Mahāprabhu arranged two places to distribute this rasa. One in Navadvīpa-dhāma and one in Vraja-dhāma. This is transcendental, cid-vaibhava. If you follow this vraja-rasa you will automatically cross māyā-dhāma and go to Kṛṣṇa’s abode.
Like an ant that becomes trapped in honey, the more the conditioned soul accepts māyā the harder it becomes to escape. However, if we are engaged in vraja-rasa then we will get strength, transcendental power and the ability to easily cross over māyā. At that time everything of māyā will appear to us like dead corpses or excrement. When one has greed for spiritual rasa, it will come to take him across maya.
When someone chants harināma having taken full shelter of svarūpa-śakti, he will be purified and will cross the modes of material nature and be established in śuddha-sattva. The devotee thus situated, will not be disturbed by anyone’s abuses.
Haridāsa Ṭhākura did not become disturbed when the Muslim soldiers beat him in 22 marketplaces. He was situated in nirguṇa-tattva.
Haridāsa Ṭhākura was established in śuddha-sattva. If you can become like this, then you can always chant govinda-nāma and your environment will be very clean and favorable. Your nature will be always inclined to serve Kṛṣṇa. This is the process of chanting harināma.
Mahāprabhu had this discussion with Haridāsa Ṭhākura so that the living entities could understand the process of chanting nāma. This discourse took place in Śrī Kṣetra-dhāma. If you hear these instructions in Śrī Kṣetra-dhāma, you will gradually acquire taste for vraja-rasa, and will chant day and night. Then, when you go to Navadvipa or Vraja you will be engaged in vraja-rasa and not māyā-rasa.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]