[Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga]
If we desire to protect our bhakti, we must have the shelter of nama and mantra. Taking shelter is not such a difficult thing. Yet after one does this, he must increase his relationship and bring it to the level of complete purity. This is proper. If some mood of disrespect or indifference arises somehow, and mundane things are then seen to be desirable and great, then this is called avajna. We have come to the lotus feet of Harinama Prabhu, Jagannatha, Sri Guru, and the Vaishnavas, but after sometime we no longer like to remain in that shelter. Suddenly we feel great bliss where ordinary things present themselves. From where does abhimana and kapatata come to someone who chants the holy name? Why does the tendency to criticize enter such a person’s mind?
Offering prayers and respectful obeisances to Gadadhara Pandita, Mahaprabhu, Nityananda, Sita-pati or Advaita Prabhu, Srivasa Pandita and the devotees of the Lord, Haridasa Thakura begins to describe the next offense to the holy name.
If alone and devoid of shelter, many may come to attack us and force us to take their mundane rasa. Where Mahaprabhu and His associates are engaging in nama-sankirtana however, no one will be able to touch us. Gadadhara Pandita bestows transcendental rasa. Nityananda Prabhu gives transcendental bliss. Until one tastes this bliss they will not go to paramananda; they will run for jadananda–material happiness. Until Gurudeva or Nityananda Prabhu gives us some spiritual taste, we will remain attached to a lower taste. If someone is attached to eating fish, garlic and onions, then what does he know of pure and tasty foods? Nityananda Prabhu is ananda-kanda, the giver of bliss. As long as the jiva is in the mundane drain of jada-rasa, mundane rasa, they will think that bhajana is useless. Nityananda Prabhu is very clever. Whoever comes to the line of bhakti, He gives them a taste of transcendental rasa. Tasting this, a person will no longer like fish chutney, or garlic and onions. The lower taste will no longer remain when one has found the higher taste.
After offering prayers to Nityananda Prabhu, Haridasa Thakura invokes the name of Advaita Acarya Prabhu, the Lord of Sita.
bhaktavataram isam tam
Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 1.13
[Because He is nondifferent from Hari; the Supreme Lord, He is called Advaita, and because He propagates the cult of devotion, He is called Acarya. He is the Lord and the incarnation of the Lord’s devotee. Therefore I take shelter of Him.]
Advaita Prabhu is expert at delivering instructions on bhagavad-tattva. He teaches us how to receive vraja-bhakti and how to become related with the Vrajavasis.
Haridasa Thakura also prays to the merciful gaura-bhakta-vrinda; the devotees of Mahaprabhu, who come to our doors without invitation and implore us, “How long will you remain in sorrow? There is news of great happiness!”
vedera pratijna, rakhibara tare, rukma-barna vipra-suta
mahaprabhu name, nadiya mataya, sange bhai avadhuta
[Fulfilling the promise of the Vedas, the son of a brahmana, bearing the name “Mahaprabhu” and of golden complexion, has descended with His brother, the avadhuta Nityananda. Together They have maddened all of Nadiya with divine ecstasy.]
nanda-suta jini, caitanya gosā̃i, nija-nama kori’ dana
tarilo jagat, tumi-o jaiya, loho nija-paritrana
[Sri Caitanya, who is directly Krishna, the son of Nanda, has saved the world by freely distributing His own holy name. Go also and claim your deliverance.]
“Come and see the happiness you will receive.” Speaking like this, the devotees of the Lord will take you by force. They will make you taste this bliss. They have so much mercy; they can see that you are suffering.
The next offense is referred to as sruti-sastra-nindanam. To blaspheme sastra is nama-aparadha.
Until one has taste for hari-katha and the good fortune of coming to the dhama, one’s tendency will remain on the path of karma. By doing karma, one can gradually rise up to a higher platform. For this reason, Vyasadeva propounded the glories of karma, jnana and so forth. There are different classifications and sub classifications of beings; devas, danavas, ghandharvas, humans, and so forth. According to their level, processes for advancement have been described in Vyasadeva’s writings.
By disrespecting sastra one becomes arrogant, but is this the only fear? Is this why this prohibition has been placed? Why would there be an obstacle in one’s devotion? Why has this principle been put forth? Material objects are always present before our senses and we have no knowledge of transcendental objects. Krishna-tattva is beyond this material plane. Until the jiva becomes related to amnaya-vastu, he will be bereft of any support.
In sastra all instructions are given. Many restrictions are also given.
aikantiki harer bhaktir utpatayaiva kalpate
If one wants to perform one-pointed devotion to Hari, but neglects sastra, then he only becomes a disturbance.
You must remain under the rules and prohibitions of sastra. Mahaprabhu started the ‘Hare Krishna Revolution’. Yet why didn’t He say that everyone should go into Jagannatha’s temple? Did Kasi Misra, Sarvabhauma Pandita, and King Prataparudra not understand Mahaprabhu, and therefore not allow entry for all? Srila Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, and Srila Haridasa Thakura never tried to enter the Mandira. Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami were from greatly esteemed brahmana families and were Mahaprabhu’s dear associates. In their perfected forms they are manjaris. Also, Haridasa Thakura was Brahma and Prahlada, who came together as one form. These were indeed great personalities and devotees of the highest caliber. Why then did they not enter the Jagannatha Temple? They humbly maintained respect for the established etiquette.
Mahaprabhu did not instruct us to cross over the regulations of sastra. Rules are necessary for ordinary beings. We must force ourselves to rise for mangala-arati. Those who naturally wake in the morning do not need anyone to come to wake them, but until that time comes, rules and prohibitions must be followed very carefully. Without proper knowledge, a person will not even bathe properly. He will only throw a bucket of water over himself with no consideration of purity or impurity. The rules and regulations are for our own welfare.
We should not think that we are pure Vaishnavas and that we can forget these rules. We have no knowledge or spiritual understanding, yet we tend to think we are high class devotees. The sruti sastra was given so we can receive bhagavad-jnana. We should not show disrespect to these instructions. The material senses cannot grasp nirguna-tattva and transcendental objects. Without Krishna’s mercy it is not possible.
In the sruti sastra, karma, jnana, and yoga are described. Everyone can follow bhakti, but we must cross beyond karma, jnana, and yoga. Bhakti is the supreme path, but we must realize this. We must understand that karma and jnana are temporary. Otherwise how will one follow bhakti? For living beings bound up in maya, it is not so easy to comprehend pure bhakti. The Vaishnavas are always endeavoring to teach us pure devotion; to teach us about sambandha, abhideya, and prayojana.
Hari is the Absolute Truth, sarva-saktiman, and sastra describes this. Those who perform bhajana, take veda-sastra-siksha into their hearts and offer their faith to Bhagavan. By following the path of vaidhi-bhakti and remaining under srinkala, or the shackles of rules and regulations, we will progress.
Those who perform sadhana under guidance of sastra, following rules and regulations, doing japa and gayatri, wearing tilaka properly, performing acamana properly and so on, will develop good habits. They will wake early, memorize verses from Bhagavatam, and study other granthas.
If a person is forced into becoming a sadhu, he will only become more inclined to debauchery. The rules and regulations of the different sastras are intended for us to build a platform upon which we can gradually progress, yet we should not think they are all-in-all. If someone can somehow become established in raganuga-bhakti beyond all governance, we should consider him very fortunate. The gradual method is to follow the rules and regulations of all the scriptures and progress in a sequential manner.
If we do not follow sastra, we cannot properly understand sakti and saktiman and we will say that everything is impersonal Brahman. To understand Krishna’s eternal potency, we must take shelter of sastra under the guidance of Sri Guru and Vaishnavas.
siddhanta baliya citte na kara alasa
iha ha-ite krsne lage sudrdha manasa
Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 2.117
“A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of such conclusions, considering them controversial, for such discussions strengthen the mind. Thus one’s mind becomes attached to Sri Krsna.”
Knowledge of siddhanta-jnana is necessary. We do not follow the words of impersonalists, mayavadis karmis, or jnanis. We follow amnaya, the message of the Vedas received through the guru-parampara. We accept what has been passed down from one generation to the next in the bona fide spiritual succession.
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