[Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga]
One kind of jiva comes to this world, takes shelter of the five elements and receives a material body. These are known as baddha-jivas. Some jivas of this category take shelter of the water and are called aquatics. Some, like birds, take shelter of the air. Birds however, are not the only ones dependent on the air. All materially conditioned living beings would be destroyed without air. If air was removed from the list of elements, the living beings could only remain for only a few moments in the body. Air is prominent in the lives of all, and pervades the world. If the air is mixed with impure substances, then there is a more polluted atmosphere. Tama-guna increases and the living beings in that environment become degraded and increasingly entangled in the net of misery. This is visible all around us.
There are five kinds of consciousness, acchadita-cetana, covered consciousness; sankucita-cetana, contracted consciousness; mukulita-cetana, budding consciousness; vikasita-cetana, unfolded consciousness; and purna-vikasita-cetana, fully developed consciousness.
Is there a place where the atmosphere is pure and the air is always clean? That place is where the devotees of Hari are engaging in hari-kirtana and where harinama is devoid of any pollution or contaminations of the three modes of material nature.
The mukta-jivas are eternal devotees of the Lord. They are always engaged in bhakti. They do not take shelter of any mundane element or environment. They do not accept any tamasika village as their home. They reside wherever the hari-bhaktas are engaged in bhakti and bhajana. They do not go to the forest or to some isolated place. They stay in the company of devotees and engage in bhajana.
We must attain the company Sri Hari’s devotees. This should be the goal of all our endeavors.
Some jivas, caught up in material understanding, always try to follow worldly dharma. They engage themselves in collecting many types of material knowledge. They come to the asramas, but then leave to learn hardware and software engineering. They want to study Java and become computer programmers. Otherwise, they study astrology and palmistry. They collect various tech qualifications; certificates, diplomas BAs, BSs, MAs and PhDs. They try to traverse the path of material progress.
Some liberated souls may possess such qualifications, dwell in similar environments and seem to be in a conditioned state, but actually they are like swans that are in water but do not become wet. It is said that you can bring an animal out of the jungle, but you cannot take the jungle out of the animal. Some people, when brought to the asrama, feel like birds trapped in a cage. They suffer and flutter around in anxiety.
The liberated souls however, have taste for reading sastra, and have no taste for mundane novels and other useless pursuits. Conditioned souls have so much taste for dramas, movies, novels and so forth, and if they have to learn one sloka, it feels like it is the most difficult thing they ever did.
Because of their conditioned state, the embodied souls are always running towards mundane objects. The liberated souls know that the Supreme Lord Hari is our real father, mother and all-in-all. In every birth, the conditioned jivas receive a mother and father throughout the 8,400,000 species of life. They themselves have been the so-called mother and father of so many other jivas in previous lifetimes. How long will the jiva remain in this miserable cycle of birth and death? When will he have faith and love for Hari?
The mukta-jiva does not have attachment for his material mother, father, brothers, sisters and family members. He has attachment to Hari and hari-bhakti. He has taste for chanting the names of Hari. The baddha-jiva, on the other hand, has taste for the names of maya and things related to maya. He memorizes hundreds of phone numbers, Facebook IDs and e-mail addresses, but if you ask him if he memorized one verse of the Gita, he says, “Oh, no. It is too difficult for me.” Whenever there is hari-katha, he falls asleep. Otherwise he feels that the words of the sadhus are like thunderbolts smashing his head. He has no taste for hari-katha. He cannot remember anything he hears about Hari and feels discomfort as he hears it, but if you ask him about material things, he will have so much to say. He remembers the contact information of so many materialistic people, but when it comes to the Srutis, Smritis, Puranas, Gita and the Bhagavatam, he cannot remember even a single word. So these are the identifying qualities of the mukta and baddha-jivas.
The nitya-mukta-jiva is always engaged in bhajana. Worshiping God directly is not real bhagavad-bhajana. Bhajana of Bhagavan’s bhaktas—worshiping them, serving them, staying under their shelter and having an affectionate relationship with them—this is real bhagavad-bhajana.
ye me bhakta-janah partha
na me bhaktas ca te janah
mad-bhaktanam ca ye bhaktas
te me bhakta-tama matah
[My devotees are not actually My devotees. Those who are the devotees of My devotees are factually My devotees.]
We must have a strong relationship and respect for Hari’s devotees. Upon waking, we should remember their names, offer pranama to them and pray for their mercy.
There are two kinds of people that live in the asrama: those who think, “How can I make relationship with mundane people,” and others who always meditate on the great acaryas and sadhus of our line and the other Vaishnava sampradayas, thinking of their activities and teachings. They hear the message of these great devotees of the Lord and faithfully fill their ears with hari-katha. These two kinds of people are very different. They are both comparable to living beings that take shelter of the air, but for one group, their air is paramartha and for the other, their air is mundanity.
Liberated souls have relationship with sruti-sastra. They are self-realized. They have transcendental knowledge, and they are so strongly related with this that they cannot give it up for one moment. If in a day, it so happens that they do not perform their stavas, stutis, harinama, and mantras, they feel that their entire day was completely useless. Throughout their entire lives, they engage in glorifying uttama-sloka Krishna.
ayur harati vai pumsam
udyann astam ca yann asau
tasyarte yat-kshano nita
Srimad Bhagavatam 2.3.17
[In both rising and setting, the sun decreases the duration of life for everyone, except one who utilizes his time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.]
With the rising and setting of the sun and moon, life passes and is thus shortened. The sun gives sakti. All sakti comes from svarupa-sakti and it is the function of the sun to give some of this sakti to the jivas in this world. With the energy given by the sun, the conditioned souls awaken and engage in material activities. They cannot live without karma. They take urja-sakti and engage it in mundane pursuits. They cannot engage in hari-bhajana.
The nature of mukta-jivas is different. They use their urja, or power, and engage it in the service of urjesvara, the supreme Lord of all power. The sun and moon cannot steal the lifespan of someone who is mukta.
The sadhaka must have understanding of tattva-jnana, otherwise nonsense people can steal him away and make their nest in his heart. They will say “What type of mandira is this that you are living in? This is useless. I have so many mandiras.” There is a great difference between a hari-mandira and a nari-mandira, a place for worshiping unchaste women.
Bogus cheaters say, “Only what you can see with your own eyes is believable. Therefore do not neglect your family which stands before you and is always visible. No need to repeat this imaginary holy name. Who is God? You call out His names day and night, but have you ever seen Him? You have so many brothers, sisters, uncles and relatives, but you do nothing for them. If you sing their glories and touch their feet, then you will be benefitted. There is no need to chant these imaginary names.” They speak like this. In truth, they have no knowledge at all.
Hiranyakasipu had no proper understanding. He thought that by his own austerities he would achieve something, but Prahlada Maharaja had the strength given by his Guru. Hiranyakasipu became miserable by performing his austerities, and even without performing hard austerities Prahlada Maharaja was blissful. He did not have to do anything, he only listened to the instructions of his Guru and therefore had nothing to worry about.
Hiranyakasipu performed austerities and only became more and more distressed. He said, “Oh, this thorn, Prahlada—my son—is such a problem.” He saw everyone as his enemy. Those who, with all faith on their own strength, perform austerities and sadhana, are simply burdened with a great weight on their heads.
Therefore, with spiritual sakti, one can obtain everything. Wherever the devotees of God are, they will pass their days in supreme bliss. They will have no distress. On the other hand, those who are trapped in attachment to materialistic life find only sorrow at every turn. Day and night, they do parikrama of maya, thinking that they will be happy. Just ask them how happy they are.
We must develop our sambandha-jnana, but in what? Who should we have relationship with? Should we have relationships with ordinary priests and our material family members? Priests engage us in mundane family life. They say, “From today this is your wife,” or, “This is your husband.” They put rings on our fingers, which are like shackles binding us to worldly life. Then we cannot escape. This is maha-maya-mrityu-jnana, the understanding of maya’s cycle of repeated death.
Unlike worldly priests and mundane literature, Veda, Vedanta and the Srutis do not give us instruction that binds us to maya. They bestow knowledge of the Supreme Absolute Truth.
amnayah praha tattvam harim iha
paramam sarva-saktim rasabdhim
tad-bhinnamsams ca jivan prakriti-kavalitan
tad-vimuktams ca bhavad
[Amnaya, or the teachings of the Vedas received through disciplic succession proclaim that Sri Hari is the Absolute Truth. He is the supreme possessor of all sakti and an ocean of rasa.]
If the baddha-jiva resides with the mukta-jiva, he can learn about Hari bhakti. This is sambandha-jnana. Materially attached persons wish to have sambandha-jnana for their blood relations.
In Kshetra-dhama, Jagannatha says, “It is best to give up your arms. Give up your feet also, otherwise thieves grab on to you and drag you into their worldly life.” Jagannatha Himself gives up His arms and legs and is happily situated in nirguna-tattva. When one has spiritual sambandha-jnana, he understands the glories of navadha-bhakti and will therefore have exclusive devotion to Hari.
If a person keeps himself related to materialistic life he will be unable to perform the limbs of bhakti. If someone tells him to do hari-kirtana he will say, “I will not do hari-kirtana, I will do maya-kirtana.”
Such a person will go to university and become certified as an expert in maya kirtana, or someone who performs kirtana of material nature, but he will never do kirtana of Guru and Vaishnavas. He becomes so happy when he glorifies maya.
Until we have taste for the nine limbs of devotion and practice these limbs in our life, we cannot progress. If we have this taste, then we will gradually come to the point of full surrender to Hari, Guru and the Vaishnavas and follow abhideya-tattva.
How can we attain krishna-prema? If we take shelter of pure devotional service, then all knowledge of sastra as well as an unflinching service tendency will manifest in our hearts. We will not fight with others, nor try to please worldly people. In a minute, the Vaishnavas will remove these bad desires.
Those who criticize the sastras which glorify the holy name, are great offenders to Harinama Prabhu. One should never hear from those atheistic people who blaspheme sastra. It is not an offense to recognize atheists and avoid them. One should not accept any of their knowledge.
One person drinks water and another drinks wine. Observing the two, there is no fault in explaining what water is and what wine is. Some people may simply say that both are liquid, but a knowledgeable person will say that water has such and such qualities, while wine has so and so qualities. Water will affect a person like this, while wine will affect a person like that. This is not criticism. This is simply describing the qualities of specific objects.
Some may question why we are discussing the ways of atheists and the ten ways in which harinama is mistreated, as we are not supposed to be critical of others. Yet discussing the qualities and natures of different objects is not ninda, criticism. We should know the nature of the atheists and reject their false speculative knowledge.
Those who say that sastra is false are atheists and offenders of the holy name. We should not listen to them or our intelligence may become bewildered. Some people say that the Vedas are imagination and at the same time call themselves aryas. Really, however, they are anarya, against the arya line, for they do not believe in God and the pure scriptures. One should never hear from such offenders. Hearing from them is also nama-aparadha. Therefore, stay under the shelter of, and hear only from those Vaishnavas who truly understand the essence of scripture.
The devotees understand that those sastras are the embodiment of spiritual cognizance. Those who do not accept the Vedas are offenders to the holy name and attain a very dire state.
One must never forget the holy names, the abode of Bhagavan and His associates. Because we have no love for these, we always remember materialistic things and names. If you ask people where is the pathway to Jagannatha Mandira, people would say, “I do not know,” but if you ask them the path to those places where material enjoyment is available, then everyone will be able to direct you. They can tell you the way to the cinema, but not to the holy places. Those who are related to Hari and have devotion for him will know and remember all His holy places, His names, and His devotees.
Liberated souls can never forget Bhagavan’s names because they have pure love for him. We have no love, therefore we forcibly take our bead bags and move the beads, but still we only remember others’ names. We hold onto “her” beads, but cannot meet, but we remember, “Oh alas! How was my relationship in my youth? We would hide in the different corridors and eat chocolate together, and cake, and hold hands together.” Even though we are holding bead bags and chanting, we cannot forget our past relationships. We have no relationship with harinama and no relationship with the holy dhama. Those who have relation with nama and dhama can never forget them. They never forget or neglect to sing, “Jaya Jagannatha! Jaya Sri Krishna! Jaya Radhe Radhe!”
In kali-yuga most people perform bhajana of maya-sakti, but do not want to serve Bhagavan. They follow the tamasika-tantras and criticize the Satvata Sutras. They eat meat and fish, offering it to whomever as bhoga, and they criticized all others. They know and practice black magic and use it to kill or harm others. Such persons find no happiness. They will always be in anxiety.
Avoid association with atheists and mayavadis. If Maya-devi sees that someone is in sadhu-sanga and desires hari-bhajana, then she does not punish and she will help them. However much you do bhajana of Maya, she will only punish you and cause you suffering. This is also her mercy.
Maya-devi will not disturb that person who chants krishna-nama. She will lift one up from samsara; material life, and bring one to sadhu-sanga.
Chant harinama and engage in nama-sankirtana. There is no need to worship Maya-devi. There is no need to remember her names. If you perform hari-bhajana she will help you.
If by some accident you blaspheme sastra, then feeling great repentance, use Tulasi and flowers to worship the Gita, Bhagavatam and other sastras. Pray for forgiveness for your offense. The Bhagavatam the Vedanta sastra should all be worshiped with Tulasi leaves and flowers. Then Bhagavan will be merciful and fill one’s heart with pure knowledge.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]