Acaryas QuotesGurudeva said todayThe Qualities of the Kaniṣṭha-bhakta

The Qualities of the Kaniṣṭha-bhakta

June 26, 2009
Śloka Class
Bhagavad-Gītā 2.27

Śrīla Gurudeva: [To Balarāma dāsa and Govinda dāsa, the two teenage sons of Śrīla Gurudeva’s hosts in Italy, Līlā-puruṣottama dāsa and Kṛṣṇa-devī dāsī] What śloka have you learned?

[Balarāma dāsa and Govinda dāsa individually recite:]

jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur
dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmād aparihārye ’rthe
na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi

[One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament. *

Śrīla Gurudeva: You did not fully remember the verse.

What is the meaning?

Balarāma dāsa: In this world we take birth, and then we have to die, and then we take birth again. But we don’t have to lament. We just do our duty.

Govinda dāsa: One who takes birth in this world also has to die. In this way, a person has to take birth and die. He has to suffer reversals, but he does not have to lament.

Śrīla Gurudeva: Will you die?

Govinda dāsa: Yes.

Śrīla Gurudeva: And after that, what will happen?

Govinda dāsa: I will take another birth.

Śrīla Gurudeva: Then again you will have to die. And after that, what will happen?

Govinda dāsa: Again I will have to die.

Śrīla Gurudeva: It continues in cyclic order. It will not be stopped, and it is full of so much misery and suffering. So, what is our main duty?

Govinda dāsa: To chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, and try to stop this cycle of birth and death.

Balarāma dāsa: To serve guru and try to reach Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

Śrīla Gurudeva: Giving up all material activities before your next death, chant and remember Kṛṣṇa.

Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Under the guidance of Gurudeva.

Śrīla Gurudeva: Yes.

[Sundara-gopāla dāsa, Acyutānanda dāsa, Brajanāth dāsa, Madhuvrata dāsa, Vṛndā-devī dāsī, and Kṛṣṇa-devī individually recite this verse and then explain it:]

arcāyām eva haraye
pūjāṁ yaḥ śraddhayehate
na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣu
sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.2.47)

[A devotee who faithfully engages in the worship of the Deity in the temple but does not behave properly toward other devotees or people in general is called a prakṛta-bhakta, a materialistic devotee, and is considered to be in the lowest position.]

Sundara-gopāla dāsa: Śrī Havir is explaining to King Nimi the qualities of the kaniṣṭha-bhakta. He has given the qualities of the uttama-bhakta and madhyama-bhakta, and now is giving the qualities of the kaniṣṭha-bhakta. The kaniṣṭha-bhakta is one who serves the Deity of the Supreme Lord with faith, but is unable to properly respect Vaiṣṇavas and people in general.

Śrīla Gurudeva: Why has it been told that such a person is a bhakta? Why has he been called a kaniṣṭha-bhakta?

Sundara-gopāla dāsa: Although he is like the shadow of a bhakta, he is worshiping Hari on the altar.

Śrīla Gurudeva: The verse states that he does not honor ordinary persons. Why should he honor them? Do you understand my question?

Sundara-gopāla dāsa: The madhyama-adhikārī bhakta can differentiate between different levels of devotees and non-devotees, but the kaniṣṭha does not know how to make that differentiation.

Śrīla Gurudeva: My question is this: To say that he has the flaw of not respecting bhaktas (tad-bhakteṣu) is all right. But why should he honor ordinary people (anyeṣu)?

Sundara-gopāla dāsa: Oh, you are asking, “Why should he?”

Śrīla Gurudeva:

uttama hañā vaiṣṇava habe nirabhimāna
jīve sammāna dibe jāni’ ‘kṛṣṇa’-adhiṣṭhāna
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 20.26)

[Although a Vaiṣṇava is the most exalted person, he is prideless and gives all respect to everyone, knowing everyone to be the resting place of Kṛṣṇa.]

Kṛṣṇa is everywhere, whether or not we are aware of it. Therefore, we must honor even a blade of grass.

Kṛṣṇa-devī dāsī: After explaining in the previous verses the characteristics of the uttama-bhakta and madhyama-bhakta, Havir explains in this verse the characteristics of the kaniṣṭha-bhakta. He is a materialistic devotee because although he is worshiping Śrī Hari according to the rules and regulations of śāstra, he is not able to discriminate between one who is an uttama-bhakta, one who is a madhyama-bhakta, one who is a kaniṣṭha-bhakta, and those who are common people. His śraddhā is not developed, and he is in a very precarious position.

Śrīla Gurudeva: [To Premānandī dāsī, Kṛṣṇa-devī dāsī’s daughter] Why are you late?

Premānandī dāsī: Usually my mother calls me, but today she didn’t.

Śrīla Gurudeva: You yourself must be eager. You should go to her, and tell her, “Let us go now.”

What is the meaning of the śloka?

Premānandī dāsī: This verse is describing the…

Śrīla Gurudeva: Who is saying this?

Premānandī dāsī: Śrī Havir, one of the Nine Yogendras discussed in the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, is describing the kaniṣṭha-bhakta. The kaniṣṭha-bhakta worships the Deities in the temple, but at the same time he doesn’t give proper respect to devotees or people in general.

Śrīla Gurudeva: What is tomorrow’s śloka?

Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: We are packing and traveling tomorrow.

Śrīla Gurudeva: Now, our ‘school’ is closed for summer vacation. We are going back to India.
Will next year’s festival again be held in Italy?

Līlā-puruṣottama dāsa: I hope so. Do you want to come to Italy again?

Śrīla Gurudeva: Everyone wants to come here.

Līlā-puruṣottama dāsa: Then, for sure we will arrange it.

Śrīla Gurudeva: It will be a burden for you?

Kṛṣṇa-devī dāsī: No. By your mercy it is no burden.

Śrīla Gurudeva: If some devotees request that it be held in their country, we can think about that; otherwise it will be here in Italy.

Brajanāth dāsa: If we do it in Holland, it will be twice as expensive.

Kṛṣṇa-devī dāsī: If possible, we will take the same place.

Śrīla Gurudeva: Oh, this is a very big place. Everyone can fit comfortably. It is also near the ocean, so we can easily go there to walk.

Bās. Hare Kṛṣṇa.

[Excerpted from the Gaudiya Vedanta Publication “Walking With a Saint 2009”]
[CC-by-ND GVP]

Must Read

More Articles Like This