September 24, 2017 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Watch this class here
Today is a super excellent, auspicious day, the appearance day of Shrila Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja. In our guru-parampara he is the very nearest and dearest disciple of nitya-lila Bhaktisiddhanta Shrila Prabhupada.
vaisnavera guna gana, korile jivera trana
In the Chaitanya Bhagavatа, Vrindavana Das Thakur explained, “In this life it is very difficult to perform bhajana and sadhana. Because Kali-yuga is very powerful. But if you listen to the life history of our previous acharyas, of our guru varga, if you hear how they performed bhajana and sadhana, then some hope, asha, will come in our heart.” How did they serve their guru-parampara? I am always giving emphasis on these words, guru-seva. Prahlada Maharaja told –
There are many kinds of processes on how to attain to the Lord. But Prahlada Maharaja told, “A very simple process is to serve guru.” ‘Guru-shushrushaya, guru seva.’ This is the best and easiest process. Shrila Gour Govinda Goswami Maharaja told, “In this material world you have sacrificed all of your blood for your family members and for everyone else. But still it is very difficult to completely satisfy them. But if you offer a little bit of service to guru, then guru will be pleased with you.” Then when guru is pleased with you, Krishna will also be pleased. If Krishna is unhappy with you, then guru can protect you. But if guru is unhappy with you, then no one can protect you. So the conclusion is how we will serve our guru-pada-padma. Guru–nistha, guru–bhakti is called the backbone of our bhajana and sadhana.
So we see how Prabhupada’s disciples, when I say Prabhupada I am referring to Bhaktisiddhanta Shrila Prabhupada. All of the disciples of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada were completely surrendered to his lotus feet, they served Prabhupada and fulfilled all of his desires. Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Goswami Maharaja, Bhakti Dayita Madhava Goswami Maharaja, Bhakti Rakshak Shridhar Goswami Maharaja and Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja. How did they fulfill the desires of their guru? A guru never makes a disciple, a guru only makes a guru. Do you understand? This is the philosophy. What does this mean? Guru inspires the hearts of his disciples to preach all over the world. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told –
pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma
sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma
Mahaprabhu told, “One day my name will be preached all over the world.” For this regard, all the disciples of Prabhupada, those whose names I just mentioned, preached all over the world. Now, everywhere they are called jagat-gurus.
So now, how did Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja serve his guru? Many times I would hear Gurudev, Shrila Narayana Goswami Maharaja glorify him. Gurudev would say, “When I first met with Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami, I always saw him absorbed in writing. He wrote many granthas.” Gurudev also told, “…And he was always chanting the holy names. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami was always absorbed in writing and chanting the holy names.” Prabupada had given him this instruction, “You have to manifest granthas.” He also did many other services. At that time, he was also a temple president.
Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada always told all his disciples, “Everybody has to chant 64 rounds.” Prabhupada also wrote, instructing him to manage everything regarding his patrika, Prabupada’s patrika. So in this way, he was managing and also writing granthas. One day, Shrila Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja told his Gurudev, “Gurudev, you gave me this instruction, that everyday I have to chant 64 rounds. Can I perhaps chant a little bit less? Maybe 40 rounds or 50 rounds or 34 rounds?” Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada then asked him, “How many hours are you sleeping?” Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja replied, “I am only sleeping four hours.” How many hours did he say? Four hours, and the other 20 hours he was engaged in seva. Then Prabhupada told him, “Ok, you can sleep one less hour. You’ll sleep for only three hours. But, you should not stop chanting 64 rounds.”
When one hears this katha, so much inspiration comes into one’s heart. It is so inspirational to hear how Prabhupada’s disciples served him. Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja was engaged in his daily seva for 20 hours, he only slept four hours. Still Prabhupada told him, “No, you cannot be excused. You say, ‘Hey Gurudev, I do not have time to chant so many holy names.’ Ok, you can just sleep less because you will still have to chant 64 rounds of the holy name per day.” ‘Sańkhyā-pūrvaka-nāma-gāna-natibhiḥ’. At the time of Prabhupada, at that time they were very fixed. Every brahmachari had to chant 64 rounds and render his service. If you only chant holy names and do not engage your mind in servicing guru, then your mind will be going here and there. Because our minds are like what? As like ghosts. If you do not engage in serving, in Krishna consciousness, then your mind will automatically what? It will go here and there; one should chant 64 rounds and read granthas.
Especially now in Western countries during Kali-yuga… what do you see? Everyone on their iPads, iPhones, mobile phones or computers. Instead of listening to harikatha, they are all looking at stupid, nonsensical things. Ok, I am not against having or using a computer. I also have and use one. One can use their computer or their phone to listen to harikatha from our previous acharyas. But they do not want to listen to harikatha. Instead, they only use them to browse and go here and there. An idle brain is the devil’s workshop. Modern science has giving so many opportunities to us. This is true. Since we have misused them, our minds have gone here and there. So, you have to engage your mind in Krishna consciousness. Bhagavata-bhajan, this is our life. You must chant 64 rounds of the holy names everyday, there is no excuse. At the time of Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada, there was no excuse. If you said, “Oh, I have no time. I have to do all of these things.” No. Shrila Prabhupada, he told Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja, “Ok, if you sleep four hours everyday, now you can sleep…” How many hours did he say? He said, “…sleep only three hours. With this one extra hour, what can you do? You can chant more holy names.” This was his instruction to his disciple.
So much inspiration comes when you hear this katha. You have to chant then holy names and also render service towards guru and Vaishnavas. If you do not chant the holy names, how will your mind be purified? –
nāma vinu kali-kāle nāhi āra dharma
sarva-mantra-sāra nāma, ei śāstra-marma
(Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi, 7.74)
The essence of all the scriptures is nama-sankirtana. How will you stay with the Lord if you do not chant the holy names, what to speak of guru or Vaishnavas. Even if you want to stay directly with Bhagavan, in some cases, even Bhagavan will not protect you. Where can we find this example? Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Bhagavan. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu traveled in South India, at that time, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had one servant. What was His servant’s name? Kala Krishna Das. He also served Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He was serving Him, by cooking, washing His clothes and other things. But, Kala Krishna Das became intoxicated by a gypsy woman. Due to this, he gave up Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and he was staying with the gypsy woman. But Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Bhagavan. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu caught him by his choti and returned him back. The gypsies did not want him to return back to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. They even attempted to physically attack Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. But Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Bhagavan. Through his manifestation, all of the gypsies ended up actually fighting each other. In the midst of this, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took Kala Krishna Das out of there and gave him shelter. When Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu returned back to Jagannath Puri, He left Kala Krishna Das.
If you do not do your bhajana and sadhana, what will guru do? You may be thinking, “My Gurudev is an uttama-mahabhagavata.” If you not do your bhajana and sadhana, what will an uttama-mahabhagavat do? Let’s say a plate is coming, with many different kinds of preparations. Gurudev, Shrila Narayana Goswami Maharaja would say, “Many kinds of delicious food have come, prasad has come, bhagavad–prasad. You must eat yourself, guru can not take that bite for you. You must eat, then you will become healthy.” What does this mean? Guru gives you mantra, harinama. Then you must start chanting the holy names. You have to do your bhajana and sadhana. After these endeavours, guru’s mercy will come. Two fingers. Mother Yashoda was trying to bind Krishna. But every time she was two fingers short. What is this teaching us? First, must come our endeavours, then Krishna’s mercy will come. Bhagavata–kripa. So in the same way, when our endeavours to serve guru and Vaishnavas come, then automatically Krishna’s mercy and guru’s mercy will also come. So in this way, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada told his disciples, “Everybody must serve guru and Krishna and chant the holy names.” These are the teachings of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Vaishnava sevana, nama sankirtana. Whether you are householder or renounced…even if you are grihastha, there are no concessions. You might say, “Oh, I am grihastha. I have no time.” Or one might say, “I am sannyasi, I have no time.” No. There are no concessions. Do your bhajana and sadhana, you are a sadhaka. Whether you are householder or renounced, this is not a concession. Everybody has to chant 64 rounds. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj told his western disciples, “Ok, you cannot chant this much. Everyday chant…” How many rounds did he say to chant? [Devotees answer: “16 rounds.”] But here, Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada told, “No, everybody has to chant 64 rounds.” This is the process.
So I have read and listened to the life history of Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja from his disciples. There was one time when I met with him, Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja, in Vrindavana. At that time, he did not have a temple. He was staying in Vrindavana at Shri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math. At that time, I had also arrived with Gurudev. Maybe you have seen the picture of that time when Gurudev met with him, I was also there. Actually I would meet with him many times. He was very humble. He is actually called the embodiment of ‘trinad api sunich’. He was always chanting, “Haribol! Haribol! Haribol!” I will tell you one story on his life history, showing how he was the embodiment of ‘trinad api sunich’, dainya-murti. Once there was one acharya, he was giving a class on Bhajana Rahasya grantha. Do you know this book, Bhajana Rahasya? Bhaktisiddhanta Shrila Prabhupada, in preface for Bhajana Rahasya wrote, “Archana and bhajana.” Archana means is to worship to Thakuraji and bhajana means one who realised his own transcendental, constitutional form, his own siddha-deha. With this form, one directly serves the divine couple, Radha and Krishna. That is called bhajana. Bhajana, sadhana, sadhana, bhajana are not the same words. Sometimes you are using these words, but actually this is not accurate. Bhajana is very high level. Only uttama-mahapurushas can perform bhajana, we cannot really perform bhajana. Only those who are the eternal associates of Krishna, Krishna’s nitya parikars. What does the word bhajana mean? Seva. We are sadhakas, we can do sadhana. I am only discussing a small portion of tattva-siddhanta, so you can more clearly understand. In Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu, Shrila Rupa Goswamipada explained, ‘Adаu shraddha tatah sadhu sanga tha bhajana- kriya, anartha nivrtti, nishtha, ruchi, asakti, bhava, then prema dasha.’ This is the sequence.
But then also, sadhana-bhakti is explained, from bhava-bhakti to prema-bhakti. In sadhana-bhakti, you will find the stages of shraddha to asakti, that is referred to as sadhana bhakti. Then there is bhava-bhakti, then prema-bhakti. So from the stages of shraddha to asakti, it is called sadhana-bhakti. Then bhava, mood, will begin to manifest by the causeless mercy of guru and Krishna. –
kṛd asau bhāva ucyate
(Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya, 23.5)
This is called bhava-dasha. This is the definition of bhava, when bhava-dasha is manifested. Then prema-dasha is like this –
bhaktir ity ucyate bhīṣma-
(Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya, 23.8)
When a sadhaka is one pointed with Krishna, these types of possessiveness will come. That is called the prema. Actually prema, love, cannot be tolerated by this material body. If prema manifests in one’s heart, he will give up his body; the material body cannot tolerate prema. So this means a sadhaka can attain asakti, then bhava-dasha. They are many things to be spoken on this. But I will now finish my discussion of archana. Archana, is worshipping the Lord. Most neophyte devotees, those who are kanishtha-adhikari, are focusing their intentions on worshipping Thakuraji.
arcāyām eva haraye
pūjāṁ yaḥ śraddhayehate
na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣu
sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ
This is the definition of a kanishtha-adhikari devotee, of a neophyte devotee. Now returning to the story, so that acharya, he was giving this example of archana. Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada wrote, “Archana and bhajana.” But in high level stages, there are no differences between archana and bhajana. Shrila Jiva Goswamipada explained, “Archana means what? Kunja-seva.” As like Shri Rupa Goswami or all other high class exalted devotees perform, manasik-seva. Siddha-dehas perform this archana. Radhikam archayami.
So now, this example the acharya just used, “Archana. Everyone has to worship Thakuraji. Everyone must do archana.” Because they are part of the five limbs of bhakti. ‘Sadhu sanga, nama sankirtana, bhagavata shravana, mathura-vas and shri murti sraddhaya sevana.’ Shri murti sraddhaya sevana, you have to worship your Thakuraji with faith, archana. You should not neglect doing archana. You cannot say, “Oh this is only meant for kanishtha-adhikaris, I am an uttama-adhikari or madhyama-adhikri. There is no need for me to do archana.” No. You have to do archana. In our Gaudiya matha, when you first receive diksha-mantras from guru, you must learn the two sevas, services. First you have to learn how to cook. To do this, you must first go to the kitchen. Afterwards, you then have to learn how to worship Thakuraji. Do you understand this process? Now, you do not have these rules and regulations. But in the beginning, they very strictly applied these rules and regulations, especially at our Keshavji Gaudiya Math. After taking diksha, a disciple would have to render kitchen seva for at least five to six months. After six months, then they would render service to the altar, temple seva. To worship Thakuraji is very hard. Everyday you must wake up at 3:30 or 3:00 o’clock in the morning, then bathe, then chant your gayatri-mantra and then attend 4:30 am mangalarati. Then you will have be one of the last to go to sleep. Instead of sleeping at 10:30 pm, a pujari sometimes goes to sleep at 1:00, even 2:00 am. Only to then again awake at 3:30 am. Archana is a very difficult process, but in our temples you will see these things.
If you do not want to perform archana, then you will not properly know how to worship Thakuraji. If you do not know how to cook for Thakuraji, how will you develop your bhajana and sadhana? So some devotees at times are thinking, “Why should I know so many shlokas or shastras? Maybe I am a madhyamа-adhikari, maybe I am not an uttama-adhikari. But still, I am not a kanishtha-adhikari.” So you must not neglect worshipping Thakuraji, you must not neglect archana. Returning now, that acharya, he did not actually criticise anyone. He simply spoke this harikatha. The Acharya said, “Did you know that Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja was an expert in worshipping Thakuraji? Because he was born in brahmana family, from his childhood, he had so many good impressions. So he very expertly and properly worshipped Thakuraji, archana.” One of the disciples of Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja attended this class and did not fully understand what the speaker had said. The disciple of Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja was thinking, “Oh, maybe my Gurudev is kanishtha-adhikari? Since the shastras are saying that kanishtha-adhikari’s focus and intents are on archana.” Every disciple is thinking my Gurudev is uttama-bhagavata. So this disciple thought, “…but he criticised my Gurudev by saying he is kanishtha-adhikari.” Then his mind became very disturbed. Because sometimes, listeners do not listen properly. They listen with this ear, then it goes out of that ear or sometimes they are not even listening. They only sit here and let their mind’s begin to wander. They are thinking many things, their mind is traveling here and there, here and there. This is the problem.
In the same way, that disciple of Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja, he did not listen properly. After hearing this katha he was thinking, “One who is a kanishtha-adhikari gives intents to worship to Thakuraji. And then he gave an example about Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja. He was an expert at worshipping Thakurji. So is my Gurudev, Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja a kanishtha-adhikari?” His mind was very disturbed. Then after the class he left and told his Gurudev, “Gurudev my mind is very disturbed.” Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja asked his disciple, “What happened?” The disciple replied, “I went to hear harikatha from this person. And he told you are a kanishtha-adhikari.” That time Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja very humbly asked, “Oh, you listened to harikatha from a Vaishnava?” Then he shouted, “Haribol! Haribol!” And he took his japa mala and put in on top of his head. And he said, “Ah, I was thinking that I am still not a Vaishnava. But now a Vaishnava has giving me this title, I am a kanishtha-adhikari. Now look, I am a kanishtha-adhikari.” Because in Chaitanya Charitamrita it is explained, ‘krame krame teṅho bhakta ha-ibe ‘uttama.’ Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja told his disciple, “One day, he is a kanishtha-adhikari, then after a few years he will become a madhyama-adhikari, then he will become an uttama-adhikari. So why do you have a problem? Now I am a Vaishnava. Because a Vaishanva gave me this stamp, that I am a Vaishnava. I was still thinking that I was not a Vaishnava.”
‘āmi to vaiṣṇava’, e buddhi hoile, amānī nā ho’bo āmi
pratiṣthāśā āsi’, hṛdoya dūṣibe, hoibo niraya-gāmī
(Krpa Koro Vaisnava Thakura, Bhaktivinoda Thakur)
Bhaktivinoda Thakur sang, “If you think I am a Vaishnava, then you can not give respect to others.” ‘Ami to vaiṣṇava’. Always remember, ‘I am not a Vaishnava, everybody else is a Vaishnava’. So this shows how Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja was the embodiment of ‘trinad api sunich’. Whoever is an uttama bhagavata is always thinking, “I am a kanishtha.” He can even be thinking, “I am not even a kanishtha.” This is the humility, the humbleness of Vaishnavas. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught us how we can always become humble –
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror iva sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
(Chaitanya-Charitamrita, Adi 17.31)
If you want to chant the holy names, you first have to acquire four qualifications. First, ‘trinad api sunichena’ – you must always be humbler than a blade of grass. ‘Taror api sahishnuna’ – you must always be tolerant like a tree. ‘Amani’ – you must never hanker for your own name, fame and reputation, ‘manadena’ – and always give respect to others. Then you will be qualified to chant the holy names. Bhaktivinoda Thakur sang this song –
kabe nityānanda, more kori ‘doyā,
chārāibe mora viṣayera māyā
diyā more nija-caraṇera chāyā,
nāmera hāṭete dibe adhikār
(Kabe Ha’be Bolo, Bhaktivinoda Thakur)
Kabe nityānanda. That means, akhanda-guru-tattva, He will give me shelter under His lotus feet and then you will be freed from all of maya’s clutches. Maya means what? Attachment from material sense gratification. Then you will be qualified to chant the holy names. So he is saying ‘kabe nityānanda, more kori ‘doyā, chārāibe mora viṣayera māyā diyā more nija-caraṇera chāyā, nāmera hāṭete dibe adhikār’, then you will be qualified to chant holy names.
So Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Maharaja, he is actually the embodiment of the ‘trinad api sunich’ and he always chanted the holy names. And when I met with him, he mostly glorified nama and also explained about nama aparadha. Nama aparadha vichar – you have to consider the ten offences to the holy name. Nama aparadha vichar. This is very important. You must chant the holy names, this is true. But how will you chant the holy names?
ye-rūpe la-ile nāma prema upajaya
tāhāra lakṣaṇa śuna, svarūpa-rāma-rāya
(Chaitanya-Charitamrita, Antya 20.20)
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told, “Hey Svarupa Damodara, Raya Ramananda. How will you chant the holy names? Taking Harinama and diksha from guru is not enough. You must learn how to properly chant the holy names.” So Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Himself spoke these things. Learn these shlokas, the third verse of Shikshashtakam – ‘tṛṇād api sunīcena taror iva sahiṣṇunā amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ’. And always control your senses. This is very important.
Transcriber: Sanatan das (USA)
Editors: Divya Premamayi dasi (Slovakia), Sanatan das (USA), Acyuta Priya Devi Dasi (Brazil)