[Hari-kathā inspired by the Guru-varga]
Mahāprabhu asked Haridāsa Ṭhākura, “There are many jīvas in this world, how can they cross beyond maya? They are attached to the mundane world over the course of millions of lives and have forgotten their soul, and the Supersoul.”
Haridāsa Ṭhākura replied, “Śāstra describes the Absolute Truth. Great souls collect this truth, practice it in their lives, and whatever they speak therefore is helpful for others, but I am Your insignificant servant. Only to fulfill Your desire, will I speak something. If what I say is correct, please be merciful and if what I say is wrong, please correct me.”
Harināma is supremely helpful for the jīvas. Harināma Prabhu is omnipresent. He has all qualities to benedict the living entities. All śakti is present in Kṛṣṇa’s names. When one by chance utters harināma, taking shelter at svarūpa-śakti’s feet, he receives all auspicious opportunity, qualities and mercy. He also develops a strong relationship with Harināma Prabhu. However, if one follows māyā-śakti; the external potency, then Nāma Prabhu will not protect or help him.
Repeating the name of ordinary men who happen to have the names “Rama” or “Krsna” is not chanting the holy name with connection to svarūpa-śakti. When one chants the name of the Lord in this way, directing it to mundane people and keeping them in the mind, then this special connection is not there. However, when sad-guru gives these names of the Lord to his disciples, then by repeating those names, one will have this connection.
In other yugas, nāma is simply Brahma. Now in kali-yuga, nāma with svarūpa-śakti is available. Take shelter of the transcendental potency; svarūpa-śakti, then she will give you pure help and the fire of your material existence will be extinguished. One who has relation with māyā travels throughout the 14 planetary systems of the material universe without being able to escape or cross into the spiritual sky. One may chant harināma, but because he is attached to māyā he will only receive the objects of māyā.
The living entity is very small and has no strength to understand what is good or bad, right or wrong. Sometimes he hears something or reads something and then follows that path, but has no power to discern what the truth is. When a person takes shelter of the svarūpa-śakti, She gives him the strength to understand what the right path is and what the wrong path is. Māyā can only give knowledge of māyā. How then can one cross? The frog in the well cannot see beyond his well. He only moves about in the small amount of water within the walls of the well, without ever escaping. Similarly, we are in this jail of māyā where Durgā-devī is the warden. She gives mundane objects to the living beings, and being very insignificant and weak, they become enamored by māyā and trapped, continuously moving in the cycle of birth and death.
Spiritual guides come into this world to uplift the fallen souls. God sends them to this world to help all living entities. They are not attached to anything in this world. From their birth, liberated souls have no taste for any of māyā’s objects. They also have no taste for material love and affection. They are beyond all these things. They have no previous karma.
From Prahlāda Mahārāja’s very birth, he would not take blood or meat like the demons around him. In kali-yuga, Mīrābai and many other great devotees were not attracted to any mundane food, relatives or dwellings. They were solely attracted to Kṛṣṇa. When a sādhaka meets with a liberated soul, a sad-guru or a pure devotee, he becomes very happy and engages in bhakti. Some sādhakas come to the Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, but still only search for fulfillment of their senses’ desires. They cannot maintain a mood of eagerness to serve or study śāstra. They hide and watch movies or read novels. Even though they are with Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, they cannot give up their taste and habitual nature of being engrossed in objects of māyā. Still, by being in the proximity of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, then like how iron is attracted to a magnet, they also can become empowered and gradually give up their taste for māyā.
When living entities come to Hari, Guru, the Vaiṣṇavas, Tulasī Devī and the holy dhāma, they get some special energy. However, this enthusiasm can be lost in bad association. Still, if one has respect and remembers sādhus and the dhāma, then their power will come and pull them back to the dhāma. It does not matter which far corner of the world they may be in—even if they are in hell, by remembering the sādhus, Gaṅgā, Tulasī, etc., then they will get spiritual strength and will be dragged out from that place. They will lose their taste for mundane food and residence. When there is spiritual strength, the soul will not allow the senses and mind to engage in sinful activities like lying and stealing.
Haridāsa Ṭhākura now describes Kṛṣṇa’s kindness. To help the jīvas, Kṛṣṇa sends his beloved associates. Kṛṣṇa bestows whatever the devotees desire and which is beneficial for their bhakti and bhajana. When devotees desire to follow bhakti and serve Kṛṣṇa, He arranges everything. He takes this upon Himself as His personal loving duty, like how parents think of the welfare of their own children. Any living being who takes shelter of God and remembers Him with love will be empowered with so much mercy. Bhagavan helps and provides for all beings, but those who are antagonistic to Him cannot realize His mercy.
Sometimes the conditioned souls chant the holy name, perform nirjala-vrata on the day of Ekādaśī, offer prostrated obeisances, do pilgrimage, eat once a day during cāturmāsya-vrata, practice celibacy and undergo many kinds of austerity. What is their purpose in doing these things? After all this sacrifice, they pray to God, “Give me a beautiful wife. Give me a good husband. Give me a nice house with many cars and servants.”
This is only śubha-karma. They are like businessmen who try to buy boons from God through the performance of sādhana. Such a person has no spiritual inclination. He is like a laborer who takes a wage and then uses that income to buy intoxicants. One comes to the temple, works there and takes a wage from God, then runs with it back into māyā.
It may be that another person works in a mundane place, collects money there, then brings what he’s collected to the temple to engage in God’s service. This is thousands of times better. Such a person gets spiritual sukṛti. He will obtain bhakti and gradually, the chance for more and more intimate service. One person serves Hari, Guru, Vaiṣṇavas, the temple and the dhāma, and takes a wage, which he runs away with to hell. This is the ignorant nature and material tendency of the conditioned soul. Like an eagle flying in the sky; he looks down at a carcass on the ground. This is our nature. We stay in the temple, but if we find the chance to meet with a wealthy company manager who comes as a guest we intently serve him, desiring that he will some day give us large amounts of money.
Sometimes people perform hatha-yoga, but this is karma-khāṇḍa; materialistic activity. They study the Bhagavad-gītā, Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata, but their aim and object is only material enjoyment. They want to enjoy the results of their activities, and they will give only to their own relatives and followers. We see this now even in the temple. A Guru will only give something to his disciples, and not a farthing to his god-brothers, thinking them to be cheaters. They have no faith in any of their god-brothers, nor in any other devotee, nor even in God Himself.
Trees have many branches, fruits and flowers, but whom are such things for? The greedy farmer says, “These things are mine. I will sell them and enjoy what money I make.”
Such people are faithless. Family men think of their own family. If a sādhu thinks only of his own followers, then he is not a real sādhu. By enjoying the fruits of one’s activities, one can never attain peace, ātmā-śānti. It is only a waste of all one’s time. The result will be zero.
A man can work his entire life and his result will be zero. He may go to the holy places and chant harināma, but the entire result will be zero. If everything he has collected was done for the sake of his own enjoyment, these things will take him to hell. Such is the unfortunate position of a person who does not use all he has for God’s service.
Śubha-karma only gives a temporary result. How then can the living being renounce this karma-khāṇḍa, and engage in pure bhakti? For many lives people follow karma-khāṇḍa, but cannot cross beyond it. The only result is more and more material attachment.
In sādhu-saṅga one can realize that he is kṛṣṇa-dāsa, Kṛṣṇa’s servant and not māyā-dāsa, the servant of Māyā. By meeting with sādhus, one can get liberation from māyā. Then one will fully engage his mind, words and actions in God’s service. This is possible for those with sukṛti. Jñāna-khāṇḍa and karma-khāṇḍa cannot give this sukṛti.
Some people realize that māyā is full of suffering, and that anything one takes only gives pain. For instance, a person may work very hard, and then after years of working he buys a box that has four wheels, doors, windows and an engine. He enters this box with his family and seeing this Yamarāja says, “O soldiers, go and collect these jīvas. They are sending themselves to hell in a box. Look they are driving. Where are they going? They think they are driving to the park, to the beach or to the cinema, but really they are driving here to hell.”
On the way to a destination meant for enjoyment, the four wheeled box crashes into a tree and all inside are taken by the servants of Yamaraja to their master, the lord of judgment. People do everything for their own enjoyment, but this only brings a painful result.
Some people think, “I will not waste time. I will collect knowledge and achieve perfection. Sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma. Everything is Brahma. I won’t think about material enjoyment.”
They acquire so much dry impersonal knowledge, and day and night chant mantras like these. They say that they are Brahma and that everyone around them is also Brahma. Everything is Brahma. They think, “I will merge into Brahma, and then I will not feel any pain,” but then, what really happens? Can they merge into Brahma? This is only the speculation of the brahmavādīs.
That Brahmān is effulgence, light. If you mix water with water, air with air, and light with light, there is still some individuality remaining. All water is not the same. Similarly, all air is not the same, nor is all fire or light the same. When a contaminated person mixes with clean people, the clean people will kick that dirty person out, saying, “First clean yourself, then you can come and stay with us.”
We may try to go to Brahma, but we have so many bad moods within us. How can we meet with Brahma? If you want to enter a formal assembly or a government ministry, you must know proper manners and etiquette. You will be checked many times before being allowed entrance. You’ll need proper knowledge. People collect so much impersonal knowledge and then say, “This is nothing. That is nothing,” then they enter the brahma-jyoti and their individuality becomes dormant. They feel nothing, and only remain immobile in the effulgence of Brahma. Demons killed by Vishnu also go to this place. There, there is sleep without disturbance. There is no consciousness. People think this to be happiness. When one sleeps at night, some consciousness remains, but when one merges into this Brahma effulgence, no consciousness remains.
They never meet with Kṛṣṇa, nor realize the transcendental bliss of pure love.
There are three kinds of sukṛti. There is karma-unmukhī-sukṛti, jñāna-unmukhī-sukṛti and bhakti-unmukhi-sukṛti.
A hard working karmī sees a sādhu performing kīrtana. The karmīs says, “Come to my garden. I have many guavas and will give you some.” The sādhus come and are given the guavas. They take them and offer them to the Lord and then distribute them.
Some karmīs open a water charity center. Sādhus that pass by drink water from them. Other karmīs open food charity centers, and sādhus who perform bhajana go there to receive the charity and this maintains their life.
The result that these karmīs recieve in these examples is called karma-unmukhī-sukṛti.
Sometimes karmīs think, “I have opened a charity, but who will cook, clean and arrange everything?” Then they go to the Jagannātha Temple, buy large amounts of old mahāprasāda which is sold for less and then distribute it. They don’t know the glories of mahāprasāda. They take rotten prasāda, mix salt, chili, lemon and add water. They make this drink, which is called taṅka-taraṇi, and distribute this.
“This very cheap,” they think. “I will distribute this and become renowned for my generosity,” but this is still mahāprasāda and bestows a good result to those who accept it. Anyhow, Jagannātha still helps them.
This is karma-unmukhī-sukṛti.
Sometimes sādhus perform nāma-saṅkīrtana and put on a program in which they give Bhāgavatam class. Many businessmen see them and think, “They are poor beggars. They wear torn cloth. I will give them some good cloth.” By doing so, the businessmen get karma-unmukhī-sukṛti.
When faith finally comes, one follows bhakti.
Haridāsa Ṭhākura now addresses Mahāprabhu. “Oh Lord, You are very kind. You bestow mercy on the karmīs and jñānīs by making a secondary path.
When pure knowledge comes, the jīva runs for attaining the Absolute Truth. When one follows the primary path or in other words, when one follows bhakti there is no need to follow the secondary path.
Often the conditioned souls argue, fight and have many doubts. They say, “This is not right. This is not true.” Then after some time by the sādhus’ mercy, they get spiritual power and śraddhā, faith awakens within them.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam gives a secondary path for karmīs. Karmīs are attached to varṇa and āśrama. A father thinks, “It is my duty to arrange the marriage of my sons and daughters.” He will sell his house, collect so much money, and even steal or tell lies to ensure that his duty of marrying his daughter into a good family is carried out. He thinks, “How will my children grow up to be wealthy and successful in business?”
The karmī will try again and again to arrange all these things, but when his children do not follow him, he becomes very disturbed and goes to sādhus for advice. The sādhus say to him, “Follow Ekādaśī and your children will become good. Sometimes, you should perform nāma-saṅkīrtana in your home. Then your children will follow you. Hold a festival and feed the sādhus. If you do this, your children will definitely become obedient to you.”
The karmī follows this advice and calls the sādhus to his home for a feast. The next day his children have become very humble and respectful.
Then the karmī thinks, “I should call the sādhus here every day.”
Then, he goes to the sādhus with another worry. He tells them, “My son is now a young man, but he has not yet started any business.” He invites them again for prasādam and finds that very soon, his son gets a good business and marries a nice girl.
“Yes,” the karmī thinks, “From now on, I will call the sādhus for a program of nāma-saṅkīrtana every month. I will put on a feast and give them charity.”
Although this karmī executes these activities for the sake of his own material enjoyment, a form of service is performed for the sādhus. They come to his home and instill within him, the seed of śraddhā; faith in bhakti. When he has any problem he runs to the sādhus. Sometimes the sādhus give him dried candana from the body of Jagannātha, jagannātha-mahāprasāda or caraṇāmṛta from Girirāja and in this way, bestow upon him strong faith.
When karmīs receive the seed of faith, their progress begins.
Next, it is described how the jñānīs gradually progress by the help of a secondary path. A jñānī with much knowledge approaches the sādhus and argues, “Why do you only chant Hare Kṛṣṇa? What is the meaning of this? Why not study more, and open colleges?” They ask many questions. They come to try and defeat the sādhus in order to increase their name and fame. The sādhus give them respect and say, “You have so much knowledge.”
When it comes to dealing with jñānīs, if you do not respect them, they will not even speak with you. First respect them saying, “You are so great. You are helpful for everyone.”
“Yes,” they will say. “Truly, I am great.” Then these jñānīs will return to you again and again. Gradually make this kind of relationship with such a jñānī, then at the right moment take out his teeth and make him “Ve-danti” (a true follower of Vedanta, or in another translation, “toothless”). Make him understand that all his knowledge is completely useless, for it is only mundane. With that knowledge one cannot cross māyā and attain the supreme goal of life. Does he have a relationship with God? Has he realized his soul and the Supreme Soul? If a jñānī is asked about these things, he will fall silent. You can gradually instill faith in a jñānī by this method.
Mahāprabhu said, “This is only external.”
Haridāsa Ṭhākura said, “Yes. Prabhu, You are very merciful. You bestow faith in bhakti to the karmīs and jñānīs by a secondary path.” Sādhus bestow faith in the holy dhāma, the Bhāgavatam, and they gradually give the ability to cross beyond material existence.
In satya-yuga, perfection was attained by the process of dhyāna, in tretā-yuga by yajñas, and in dvāpara-yuga by arcana. In kali-yuga the people have no patience for meditation and no purity for yajña or arcana. They are always troubled. They are short lived and expert at collecting all bad things. Kali-yuga jīvas have no nature to collect qualities of goodness.
Nowadays in this world, people have opened a tool called Facebook. It is there to show one’s face and identity to others. People show who they are, where they stay and what their nature is. In kali-yuga the jīvas have very low natures, their mentality is very bad, and they always insult others.
Jñāna, karma, sāṅkhya-yoga—these are like thorns on the path. The jīvas have no desire to perform sādhana. They want everything to be easy. They don’t want to do any hard work.
Haridāsa Ṭhākura said, “O Prabhu, You propagate the yuga-dharma; nāma-saṅkīrtana so that the living beings can easily cross beyond māyā.”
This harināma is sādhana as well as sādhya. When you chant harināma, Hari is present with you. Parents take special care of their infants. Similarly, the first day one takes shelter of harināma, it is like the jīva gets spiritual birth. Hari then carefully takes care of that person.
When someone comes to Guru and takes dīkṣā and harināma, then just like a baby, Kṛṣṇa and Guru take care of that person with great love without considering aparādha. However, when one has knowledge and understands everything, if he does something bad, he will be punished.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]