How to develop our spiritual practices

I want to speak about how we can develop our sadhana and bhajana. Srila Rupa Gosvamipada quoted one unprecedented verse in his book, Bhakti Rasamrta Sindu:

adau sraddha tatah sadhu sango ‘tha bhajana-kriya

tato ‘nartha-nivrttih syat tato nistha rucis tatah

athasaktis tato bhavas tatah premabhyudancati

sadhakanam ayam premnah pradurbhave bhavet kramah

( RS 1.4.15/CC 2.3.14-15)

In the beginning there is sraddha (born from past contact with devotees) in the form of faith in the words of sadhu and sastra. Upon its appearance, one acquires eligibility for sadhu-sanga, and then bhajana-krya (activities of devotion which begin with taking shelter of Guru, receiving initiation from him, etc). Anartha-nivrtti (eradication of contamination in the form of unwanted desires in the heart) also begins at this time, and thereafter nistha, steadiness arises in bhajana. This is followed by ruci (taste for Radha-Krsna nama, guna, rupa ,lila), and then asakti (deep attachment) arises for both the process of bhajana and the object of bhajana, Sri Krsna. When this stage ripens it is transformed into the state of bhava, and there after prema arises. This is how prema gradually manifests in the heart of the sadhaka.

This is the sequence of our bhajana and sadhana.

Adau sraddha is sraddha in its beginning stage, faith in the instruction of sastra and guru. Sraddha means firm faith with the scripture and with the instructions of the guru. Without the association of a sadhu this sraddha will not come into the heart of a devotee. So Rupa Gosvamipada gave in Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu:

Sraddha-sabde visvasa kahe sudrdhe niscaya

krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya

Sraddha means firm confidence that through performing the limbs of bhakti in a mood of loving service to Sri Krsna, all other activities are automatically performed, all desires fulfilled and all necessities attained. (p.33. BRS/CC.2.22.62)

Sraddha means the firm faith with both guru and sastra. What does this mean? Simply by performing bhakti unto Sri Krsna all obligations of this human form of life will be fulfilled. It means that if you come to the practice of bhajana and sadhana your life will be successful. This human life is very rare. After passing through 8,400,000 different species one attains a human body. The Lord has given us this human body and there is no guarantee that we will get another. Only with a human body can we do bhajana and sadhana to Sri Krsna so it is to be used exclusively for this.

Eating, sleeping, defending and mating; these four things are common to both humans and animals. What is the difference between animals and human beings? The difference is that a human being can inquire about spiritual life! Animals cannot inquire about spiritual life they simply eat, sleep, defend and mate. We human beings can inquire about our soul, “Who am I? Why have I come to this material world? After my death, where will I go?” With sadhu-sanga one will realize, “I am not this body, I am a soul, I am an eternal part and parcel of the Lord.”

Always remember you cannot conquer death. Today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or after 100 years you will have to die! We remember, one day I was a very small boy, then I was in my youth, then I will be old and then die. Every day we watch on TV and read in the news papers that so many people are dying, everyday people are dying, but we stay convinced, “I will not die!”

Day and night we are suffering the three-fold miseries of Maya. (Adhibautika-klesa, suffering caused by other living entities; adhidaivika-klesa, miseries caused by devas, e.g weather disturbances; adhyatmika-klesa, miseries caused by the mind and body). Maya-devi gives so much distress, just like touching the very hot oil used for making pakoras. We are suffering everyday (hot, cold, many different sufferings). So our sastra explains: you cannot conquer death, one day you will die. Sastra also says that we will never be satisfied enjoying all the different kinds of sense gratification.

When we die we change our body and we forget our past life. We don’t remember how much suffering we endured or how much we enjoyed! Who can remember how much they suffered or how much they enjoyed in their past life? A body is given, we take this new body, this new life, and we think “I am to enjoy”. Every life it is the same! This is called, chewing that has been chewed. In many different lives you married, you suffered and were cheated or are cheating. In many different lives you made boyfriends and girlfriends and then you disappeared. We are coming and then going and doing the same thing each time. If you chew something and throw it away then take it up again and start chewing on it , how is it possible for you to get any juice? This is called chewing the chewed.

So in this life do bhajana and sadhana, sacrifice one life to serve the lotus feet of Sri Guru and Sri Krsna. Control your senses by using the simple method of chanting:

Hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare

hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare

One day you will have to face death! One day old age will come and your body will become completely inactive, many wrinkles will come, the eyesight will decrease, you will not be able to walk, there will be many things you cannot do, the teeth will fall out; is this true or not? Maybe now your face is like a lovely red rasagula but one day it will go down! The day will come when you cannot walk, you will have to take the aid of a stick and your hands will be shaking.

There is a very good story: Once there was a king, he was a very cruel king. (Srila Vana Mj said to a devotee, “you have not heard, where is your tulasi?” “I have one.” “You have one, what is your name?” “Syamali.” “Savita d.d gave her a name.”) The king took many, heavy taxes from his subjects and he enjoyed many kinds of sense gratification. He committed many sinful activities during his life. When the king became old he realized by himself, “O, I will have to go to hell.” You can realize this yourself! That means we can analyze our whole life; how much we have committed sinful activities and how much we have performed pious activities. So at the time of his death, this cruel king realized, “O, I have committed many sinful activities so I will have to go to Yama-loka.”

Then the king started to think; how can I escape and not go to Yama-loka? He called an expert sculptor and asked him to make a number of sculptures that just look like him. This very skillful sculptor made 100 sculptures all looking just like the king and put these 100 vigrahas (sculptures) in a hall. Each vigraha had a nose just like his nose. Eyes like his eyes, hands, hair, all the features looked just the same as the kings. Now when the king was about to die he laid down in the hall beside one of the 100 vigraha and covered himself with a cloth. So now there were 101 vigraha.

The yama-dutas came, hey saw 101 persons and they all looked the same. They could not recognise which one was the king! They all had same eyes, nose, hands, all looked the same. Who is the real king? They returned to Yamaraja and said, “We could not find the real king. There are 101 of the same persons sleeping!” So Yamaraja himself came to the hall. He noticed all the vigraha and was very surprised! 101 and they are all the same! Yamaraja is very intelligent and in front of all the vigraha he glorified the king. He said, “This king is very intelligent, he has built very nice deities just like himself. These sculptures are perfect; they all look exactly the same. There is not one defect in any of them. ” The king became very puffed up by hearing his own glorification so the king started to speak. Yamaraja said, “Listen! all these 101 deities are perfect, but one is a little bit imperfect.” The king asked, “O Yamaraja, tell me, which one is a little bit imperfect?” Yamaraja said “You are a little bit imperfect because you are speaking.” so they took him to Yamaloka for punishment!

This means that you cannot cheat! One day you will be caught. Be very careful, in this material world no one can cheat because the truth always comes on the surface. Maybe in some moment, you are cheated, but really you are never cheated because truth always manifests. Try to understand this. The Bible says that truth is God and God is the truth. What is the truth? Truth is the Lord. This truth will manifest one day. No one can cover this truth.

Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada gave an example: the sun is always shining and it cannot be covered. A cloud can never cover the sun. It looks like as if the cloud is covering the sun, but that is our angle of vision. The sun is very large and the cloud is very small so how is it possible for the cloud to completely cover the sun? After a few minutes, the cloud will go away and you will see the sun. The sun is like the truth.

Our sastra also explains that truth is beauty and beauty is the truth. What is beauty? Sri Krsna. No one can compare with the beauty of Sri Krsna.

Perhaps there is a very beautiful young boy or young girl but one day he or she will be will be old. But Sri Krsna is always ever-fresh youth. God is ever-fresh youth. God never becomes old. Have you seen pictures of Sri Krsna? Does he look old with a beard?

In Dwarpara yuga, Sri Krsna stayed for 125 years. This is his naravata-lila (human-like past times). Throughout the 125 years Sri Krsna always has a beautiful form of not more than 10 or 11 years old. No wrinkles on His face, no grey hair, nothing like this! He is always very beautiful and attractive. His complexion is very beautiful and so much effulgence is radiating from Him. This is called His ever-fresh youthful form (nava-yauvana). Rupa Gosvamipada said nava-nira. This means, Sri Krsna’s beauty defeats the three worlds, His effulgence is like the effulgence of an ever-fresh rain cloud and He is always playing on His flute in His three-fold bending form.

You will become old but Krsna will never become old. So Sri Krsna is beauty; beauty is truth and truth is the beauty. All beauty is an expansion of Sri Krsna. Sri Krsna has 64 qualities but 4 are extraordinary qualities. The first quality is His beautiful form and this is the sweetness of His beauty, His ever-fresh beautiful form. Everybody is attracted by His beauty. When Sri Krsna starts to play on His flute everybody starts to dance.

Radha Nache, Krishna Nache, Nache Gopi Gan

Man Mere (Sakhi) Van Gaia ri Pavana Vrndavan

Radhe Radhe Radhe Radhe Radhe Radhe Radhe

Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Radha Nache, Krishna Nache, Nache Gopi Gan

Man Mere (Sakhi) Van Gaia ri Pavana Vrndavan…

In Vrndavana the vrajavasis are singing this song! When Sri Krsna plays on the flute in rasa-sthali everybody starts to dance, Srimati Radhika, Lilata, Visakha and all the gopis, they all start to dance! You are not dancing because your hearts are not filled with joy. You will dance when your hearts are intoxicated with Sri Krsna! Then, when you chant the holy names you will start to cry, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying and sometimes rolling on the ground. When Krsna- prema comes into your heart then, you will start to dance. Now prema is not manifesting so you are not dancing, not crying and not rolling on the ground.

When you cry for Krsna that means you have love for Sri Krsna. Who wants to cry for Krsna? Our mission is called the “crying school!” Mahaprabhu said “cry for Krsna! Everybody cries for Sri Krsna!” Krsna is my mother, Krsna is my father, Krsna is my all in all. Now we have lost Krsna, but we are not crying for Krsna. If you lose one penny or something, then you look for it, “Where is it? Where is it?” but we have lost Sri Krsna and we are not crying.

Mahaprabhu said, “O my brothers, cry for Sri Krsna.” Do you want to cry for Krsna? Cry for Krsna: Hare Krsna…… Cry for Krsna! He is a very valuable thing. Mahaprabhu cried, “Where is my beloved Govinda? Where is my Krsna? Where will I find Him” Day and night Caitanya Mahaprabhu called out loudly:

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

When Mahaprabhu stayed in the Gambhira in Jagannatha Puri. (Srila Vana Maharaj asked the devotees, “Have you been to Puri with me?) One night Mahaprabhu came out from the Gambhira and jumped into the ocean. Why? He was thinking, “Where is my Krsna?” That night a man was fishing and Mahaprabhu got caught in his net. The fisherman thought, “Maybe I have caught a big fish!” but when he pulled his net onto the shore he saw a dead body! (Maharaja pays pranama to the deities.) Mahaprabhu’s body was extraordinarily long and sounds were coming from the body. Noises like a ghost, “Mmmm, mmm….” The fisherman got very frightened, he thought may this is a ghost and he will possess my body so he lightly touched Mahaprabhu’s body and his own body started to shake. He thought, “I need to go to the ghost charmer.” The ghost charmer is one who expels ghosts.

Svarupa Damodara and the other devotees were searching for Mahaprabhu. They were all upset, “Where is Mahaprabhu? He is not in the Gambhira.” After some time they came onto the beach. Then they saw the fisherman coming along the beach and he was talking to himself, saying, “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Hare Hare…” Svarupa Damodara realized he must have touched the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu. How else could this prema come into his heart! Svarupa Damodara asked the fisherman, “What happened? Where you are going?” The fisherman said, “While I was fishing in the ocean, I thought I caught a fish, but it is not a big fish, it was a dead body! When I touched the dead body, my whole body started to shake and I started to chant Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare…!” Svarupa Damodara slapped the fisherman telling him, “I am the best ghost charmer. Tell me where is that big fish?” The fisherman pointed and told him, “I will not go there again to look for that dead body!”

Svarupa Damodara and others went to the place where the fisherman had pointed and seen Mahaprabhu. He was making the sound, “Mmmm, mmmm….., Gonnn, gonnn, gonnn…..!” Svarupa Damodara and the others started to do parikram of Mahaprabhu and sing the song.

Hari haraya namah krsna yadavaya namah

yadavaya madhavaya kesavaya namah

gopala govinda rama sri-madhusudana

giridhari gopinatha madana-mohana

Krsna is Himself Hari and He is also Yadava. He is in the dynasty of both Nanda Baba and of Vasudeva; all are Yadavas, the dynasty of Yadu. So my dandavat pranama to the lotus feet of svayam Hari who is Yadava Krsna. Namah means giving up all kinds of worldly relations, upadhis, and offering our everything to the lotus feet of Krsna. (p.134. GGG. ed.2010)

They were singing this song and doing parikram of Mahaprabhu. After a few minutes, Mahaprabhu returned to consciousness. Svarupa Damodara asked Mahaprabhu, “Why did You come here? What happened?” Mahaprabhu said, “I was crying for My beloved Krsna! Where is My beloved going?”

Try to understand this philosophy. Cry for Sri Krsna and not for other things:

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Try to understand, when will you cry for Sri Krsna and how will you cry? When you have knowledge of your relationship with Sri Krsna; then you will cry.

In this world, when a relative leaves their body, you cry. (Srila Vana Mj asked, “Has anybody’s relative left their body? Were you crying at that time or not?” The devotee said, “Yes, my mother.” “Your mother, you were crying?” “Yes.” “Always remembering, and shedding tears.”) Understand. Where there is a relationship you will cry. But will you cry for Krsna? You will cry for Krsna if there is a relationship. Nobody has seen Krsna so how will we make a relationship with Him? You saw your mother, and she gave you her love and affection, so you cry for her. Your mother’s love and affection come into your heart throughout your childhood. (A devotee said, “My mother died and I was not crying.” Srila Vana Maharaj asked, “When did your mother die?” “20 years ago.” “And you were not crying, why?” “My mother said, ‘When I am alive, treat me nicely and do not make me angry, then when I die or whatever happens, you will not have a problem.” Srila Vana Maharaj said, “She is crying for her mother, right?” “Yes.”) When you miss someone, then you will cry.

In this world, everyone is crying for their boyfriend, their girl-friend, husband, wife, wealth, money, cats, and dogs. In America, I saw one lady was crying because her dog died. She was crying very loudly! She was not crying for God, she was crying for a dog! Understand. Dog and God, d-o-g and G-o-d. I said to her, “You are crying for a dog but you are not crying for God?

When will we cry for God? When will such a relationship come? How do we get a relationship when we have not seen God? When we try to have a relationship with God, the realization will come. Then we will cry to Him. How do we get this relationship?

A mother will cry for her baby if her baby dies. (Srila Vana Maharaj asked, “Who has a baby?”) When you have a baby you have love and affection for the child and through that love and affection, you have a relationship. For a mother, the relationship is, she is my daughter or he is my son. There are love and affection in the mother and son’s or daughter’s relationship.

In the same way, what is our relationship with Krsna? Who is He? Do you know? You don’t know! Guru gives this relationship! Guru gives the relationship with Krsna. Gurudeva said, Guru means he who gives the relationship with Krsna. Krsna is my son, Krsna is my friend or Krsna is my beloved. Guru gives this relationship in the heart through mantra. This is the duty of Guru. Guru is called the presiding deity of the relationship with Sri Krsna.

For example, a light, if you connect the light to electricity it will come on, but if it is disconnected, the light will not come on. So the Guru’s duty is to connect his disciple with Sri Krsna. A disciple cannot connect himself to Sri Krsna. So the Guru’s duty is to give this connection to the disciple, then the knowledge of relationship will develop. In Sanskrit this is called sambhanda-jnana.

When you have knowledge of your relationship with Sri Krsna, two things happen. The first is called seva-tendency, the tendency to serve. The second is possessiveness (so much attachment), mammata, will come into your heart. (Srila Vana Maharaj, said to a devotee, “You have a son, you gave him milk when he was a baby, so much service you did for him, night and day. How old is your son?” “He is fourteen now.”) Now he is big but when he was a very small baby, few months old, you took care of him by serving him, cleaning him and so on. Now he is big and is looking after himself but by remembering those days when he was small, so much love and affection rises in your heart, doesn’t it?”) When sambandha-jnana, knowledge of relationship, develops then two things appear: one is the tendency to serve and the other is possessiveness. I-ness and mine-ness is coming to you. When this knowledge of relationship arises, then the tendency to serve Krsna, and possessiveness comes, He is mine, also arises. This is a type of faith and it will come by association with sadhu; adau-sraddha, sadhu-sanga, bhajana-kriya, anartha-nivrttih, nistha, rucih, asaktih, bhavah and prema (firm confidence in the process of bhakti, association with pure devotees, performance of the activities of devotion, diminishment of unwanted habits, firm faith, taste for Radha-Krsna, deep attachment, the stage of bhava, ecstatic transcendental love of God; p.486. Slokamrtam), this is the sequence.

Rupa Gosvami said that of the 64 limbs of bhakti the first one is to take shelter of Sri Guru’s lotus feet. The second step is to take diksa (initiation). You have to take initiation and you have to follow Guru’s instructions (siksa), by learning some slokas or sastra and doing service to Sri Guru with intimacy:

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Without initiation your spiritual life will never develop.

Jaya Gurudeva Jaya Gurudeva

Jaya Gurudeva Jaya Gurudeva

Nitai-gaura haribol!

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