Let us begin by speaking about Rupa Goswami, starting with describing his position in relation to Lord Caitanya and His principal followers. Foremost amongst them were the six Goswamis of Vrindavana. In the middle of the painting shown on the screen are the two brothers, Sanatana and Rupa Goswami. There is their nephew, Jiva Goswami, and three others—Gopal Bhatta Goswami, Raghunatha Dasa Goswami, and Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami. Srila Prabhupada loved to speak about their renunciation: tyaktva turnam asesa-mandala-pati-srenim sada tucchavat. They were in aristocratic positions, and rejected it all to come live in Vrindavana, wearing one cloth, living under a tree, and maybe eating once a day. The comforts of opulent life was not at all what they aspired for. They had it all, and rejected it. More importantly, they gave a treasure to the world in the form of transcendental writings. Those of you that know this verse from Sad-goswamyastakam, you can sing along with me:
lokanam hita-karinau tri-bhuvane manyau saranyakarau
vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau
The translation, in honoring the six Goswamis goes like this: “I offer my respectful obeisances unto each of the six, who are very expert in scrutinizingly studying all the revealed scriptures, with the aim of establishing eternal religious principles for the benefit of all human beings. Thus, they are honored all over the three worlds and they are worth taking shelter of, because they are absorbed in the mood of the Gopis and are engaged in the transcendental loving service of Radha and Krishna.” They took it upon themselves to serve the Vaisnavas by studying all the revealed scriptures in light of the teaching of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and, after gleaning the essence of them, presenting the essence for the benefit of all human beings.
Here’s a painting of a Caitanya tree, from Caitanya Caritamrta, where Lord Caitanya is the main trunk and the main branches are Advaita Acarya, Lord Nityananda, and Gadhadhara and Srivas. From the branches of the Caitanya tree, many sub-branches and sub-branches of those sub-braches arise. And many fruits were received by the whole world. Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally watered the root of the tree, and helped distribute the fruit of love of God. So abundantly, the fruits of love of God were made available! The taste of those fruits was love of Krishna in the mood of the residents of Vrindavana. This right hand painting also illustrates this. Although He was in the mood of a devotee of Krishna, He is actually Krishna in the mood of a devotee of Krishna, and specifically, in the mood of Srimati Radharani. That’s the mood of love which Lord Caitanya made available. The teachings of Lord Caitanya, and in turn the teachings of Rupa Goswami, are specifically to make that love available.
Here’s one way Krishna Dasa Kaviraja glorifies Rupa Goswami—citing Srila Prabhupada’s translation—“Before the creation of this cosmic manifestation, the Lord enlightened the heart of Lord Brahma with the details of creation and manifested the Vedic knowledge. In exactly the same way, the Lord being anxious to revive the Vrindavana pastimes of Lord Krishna, impregnated the heart of Rupa Goswami with spiritual potency. By this potency, Srila Rupa Goswami could revive the activities of Krishna in Vrindavana, activities almost lost to memory. In this way, he spread Krishna consciousness throughout the world.” Rupa Goswami’s gift was not just love of Krishna, but love of Krishna in the mood of the residents of Vrindavana. In giving this gift to others he displayed it himself, the love of Krishna in the mood of Vrindavana.
Here is Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s description of this gift of the study of the scriptures offered by Rupa Goswami and others: “Srila Rupa Goswami collected the essence of all the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and offered it as a gift to the genuine sadhakas. So, we’re offering the gift of Rupa Goswami to all the genuine sadhakas and those that wish to be genuine sadhakas too.” This is from his commentary on Upadesamrta.
Next, here are some verses by Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami. “Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught Srila Rupa Goswami the ultimate limit of the truth about Lord Krishna, the truth about devotional service, and the truth about the transcendental mellows culminating in conjugal love between Radha and Krishna. Finally, he told Rupa Goswami about the ultimate conclusions of Srimad Bhagavatam. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu told Rupa Goswami all the conclusions he had heard from Ramananda Raya, and duly empowered him so that he could understand them.” How about that? “Not just, ‘Here are my teachings’, but I hereby empower you to understand everything! The highest truths!” “By entering the heart of Rupa Goswami, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu empowered him to ascertain properly the conclusions of all truths. He made him an experienced devotee, whose decisions correctly agreed with the verdict of the disciplic succession. Thus, Srila Rupa Goswami was personally empowered by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”
This is a painting of Mahaprabhu instructing Rupa Goswami at the Dasavamedha ghat. After teaching him, and empowering him to fully understand the conclusive truth of all these amazing subject matters, He told Rupa Goswami, “Write books!” “Indeed, Srila Rupa Goswami, whose dear friend was Swarupa Damodara, was the exact replica of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And he was very, very dear to the Lord. Being the embodiment of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s ecstatic love, Rupa Goswami was naturally very beautiful. He very carefully followed the principles enunciated by the Lord and he was a competent person to explain the pastimes of Lord Krishna. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu expanded his mercy to Srila Rupa Goswami just so he could render service by writing transcendental literature.”
Here is a painting of Rupa and Sanatana under one of their favorite trees, their minds absorbed in Radha and Krishna and their transcendental pastimes, and describing them in suitable language so that fools like us can hear and properly understand.
When we perform ceremonial functions, for example on Monday we’re going to have a Srimad Bhagavatam installation, we’ll recite the Mangalacarana prayers. And the very first one is to Rupa Goswami.
sthapitam yena bhu-tale
svayam rupah kada mahyam
Its translation is, “When will Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada, who has established within this material world the mission to fulfill the desire of Lord Caitanya, give me shelter under his lotus feet?”
In Gaura Ganoddesha Dipika, a book written by Kavi Karnapura, which is a “who is who” in Caitanya lila ~ who are they in Krishna’s lila ~ he identifies that Rupa Goswami is Sri Rupa Manjari. And here’s what he describes in that purport about who Rupa Goswami is: “In Goloka Vrindavana, Srimati Radharani is lovingly served by eight principal gopis, of whom Lalita sakhi is her dearest friend. These intimate maidservants of Srimati Radhika are assisted by eight main manjaris.” Each of the principal sakhis, eight main Gopis, they have little girl manjaris that assist each of them. Sri Rupa Manjari is the leader of those, and she serves Lalita. “They please the sweet divine couple by carrying messages, preparing tasty beverages, stringing fragrant flower garlands, offering betel buds, decorating the kunjas, fanning, etc.” That is who Rupa Goswami is. And, as he did in Krishna’s lila, he intimately served Lord Caitanya in Gaura-lila.
Here is a painting of a pastime that also illustrates a pastime where Lord Caitanya directly declares that he gave empowerment and his full mercy to Rupa Goswami. It is described in Caitanya Caritamrta that during kirtana before Lord Jagannath, sometimes Lord Caitanya would sing a particular song again and again—a refrain, a stanza from a song. Depending upon one’s culture, it appeared to be a mundane love song. He loves her, she loves him. Bollywood style. Or Romeo and Juliet. Or West Side Story. Lord Caitanya kept singing it over and over again. Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami said that Rupa Goswami could understand the mind of Lord Caitanya. Rupa Goswami later wrote a companion verse to complement the song sung by Lord Caitanya which was very explicitly expressing Radha’s feelings of separation from Krishna, searching for Krishna. “Where is that beloved son of Nanda Maharaj? Is he now on the bank of Yamuna? Is he beneath the Vetasi tree? Is he playing on the fifth note with his flute?” Rupa Goswami wrote about Radha’s pining, her feelings of separation from Krishna, on a leaf and stuck the leaf in the thatched roof of his hut to go do his mid-day bathing and duties. In his absence, Lord Caitanya came to the hut. Since Rupa and Sanatana, along with Haridas Thakura, were so humble, they felt themselves unfit to enter the Jagannatha temple. So, they stayed at Siddha-bakula with Haridasa. Lord Caitanya often went to see them. Although Rupa Goswami was not there, Lord Caitanaya saw that leaf. When he read the verse, and he was astonished! Rupa Goswami came back to his hut at that time, and Lord Caitanya read the verse aloud in front of Rupa Goswami. Later, he went and he was back in his residence in Gambhira and asked Swarupa Damodara, “How did he know my mind? How is it possible?” By the way, we discussed this in our class yesterday morning in Chicago. Prabhupada specifically advised, “Do not make the mistake of predicating the mind of the spiritual master, for one may very easily make big offense.”
But Rupa Goswami was not guessing. He knew! He knew the mood of Lord Caitanya. Swarupa Damodara replied, “There is only one possible conclusion. For Rupa Goswami to know your inner feelings, he must have received the fullness of your mercy. Otherwise, it’s not possible.” Deductive logic. And Lord Caitanya then spoke this verse, “Yes, it’s true!” He instructed him, as the previous painting showed, at Dasavamedha ghat, “I thereupon also bestowed upon him my transcendental potency. Now you should give him instructions. In particular, instruct him in transcendental mellows.” So, in addition to Lord Caitanya imparting transcendental knowledge and the realization of everything that He taught him, He similarly empowered Swarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya to impart the same teachings in further depth.
It’s one thing to study and to learn. It’s another thing to have realization. It’s another thing to fully understand everything that you’ve heard. Fully realized—that’s Rupa Goswami! On two occasions, Lord Caitanya confirmed this very very very very very special mercy that He gave to Rupa Goswami. For those reasons, in our line of disciplic succession, out of all the awesome members of Lord Caitanya’s associates, Rupa Goswami is the next in line. Nonetheless, Rupa Goswami accepted the position of regarding his elder brother as his spiritual master, due to his humble mood of devotional service. In other words, the author of the book that we’re going to spend some time studying the verses of, is not just a literary person. He’s an especially empowered person.
Here’s Raghunatha Das Goswami writing about Rupa Goswami:
adadanas trnam dantair idam yace punah punah
srimad rupa-padambhoja-dhulh syam janma-janmani
And the translation: “Taking grass between my teeth, I pray repeatedly that I may become a speck of dust at Sri Rupa Goswami’s lotus feet, birth after birth.” From mukticarita.
I must go quickly now, because I haven’t even started with the verse for today, the first text of Nectar of Instruction.
In the pranama mantra that we say for Bhaktivinode Thakura, it includes an explicit appreciation for his being a strict follower of rupanuga-varaya te. “I offer my respectful obeisances unto Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda, who is transcendental energy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is a strict follower of the Gosvamis, headed by Srila Rupa.”
In two of the pranama mantras which we offer to Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, similarly it is said:
sri-gaura-karuna-sakti-vigrahaya namo ‘stu te
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto you, the personified energy of Sri Caitanya’s mercy, who deliver devotional service which is enriched with conjugal love of Radha and Krishna, coming exactly in the line of revelation of Srila Rupa Gosvami.”
Everyone is talking about Rupa Goswami. There’s a reason why. He’s very very special in our disciplic line.
namas te gaura-vani- sri-murtaye dina-tarine
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto you, who are the personified teachings of Lord Caitanya. You are the deliverer of the fallen souls. You do not tolerate any statement which is against the teachings of devotional service enunciated by Srila Rupa Gosvami.”
He sets our standard.
There is an intimate relationship between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Rupa Goswami, specifically through the Radha Damodara temple. In the courtyard of the Radha Damodar temple is the bhajan kutir and the samadhi of Srila Rupa Goswami. Here’s something that Prabhupada writes in Nectar of Devotion: “The place of Srila Rupa Goswami’s bhajan—execution of devotional service—is commemorated still. There are two different tomb-like structures in the Radha Damodara temple. One structure is called his place of bhajan. In the other, his body is entombed. Beyond this very tomb, I have placed my bhajan, but since 1965, I’ve been away. The place, however, is being taken care of by my disciples.” Once, while Srila Prabhupada was taking some disciples there, he described in one confidential discussion—it was in the public lecture—he revealed that he was doing his translation work of Srimad Bhagavatam, preparing for coming to the Western countries under the order of Bhakti Siddhanta. Practically, when you go there to Vrindavana in Radha Damodara temple in Prabhupada’s room, you’ll see that little desk and you’ll see a window. And opening the window, you see the courtyard of the samadhi and bhajan kutir of Rupa Goswami. Srilal Prabhupada described that Rupa Goswami personally appeared to him and spoke, saying “Maharaj, don’t worry about anything. Go ahead and travel to the West. And preach. Just preach the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the chanting of Hare Krishna. You’ll be successful. I guarantee because I will be right with you all the time!” Pretty intimate, huh?
Here’s another description. This painting is in the courtyard, behind the Radha Damodara temple, where there used to be—they’ve renovated it, it’s not the same anymore—but there used to be an elevated passageway so people can circumambulate. Beneath that was a shady cool place—because in Vrindavan, it gets too hot—where the Goswamis would sit, like you see the in painting, and they would discuss. Because Radha Damodara temple was central to where the other Goswamis had their temples, from time to time, they would come together like this and discuss Krishna-katha.
Jiva Goswami kept a library but some of the writings of the Goswamis, the original texts, which are now kept in a Vrindavana Research Institute. When you go from the Krishna Balarama temple, go out the front gate and make a left-hand turn going towards Loi Bazaar. On the left as you’re going down, there’s the Vrindavana Research Institute, where inside they have the originals of the Goswami writings. Here’s the person in-charge, Gopal Chandra Ghosh, describing to one of Prabhupada’s disciples an exchange he had with Prabhupada about this same incident of Rupa Goswami coming. He writes: “Srila Prabhupada said he had received a visit last night. In the courtyard, by Srila Rupa Goswami’s samadhi, he saw some very beautiful persons. One was wearing only a kopin and was chanting, a large tulsi mala around his neck. His eyes were very large, like lotus flowers, and he was extremely effulgent. Also coming there was another personality, dressed similarly, but older and taller, very kindly to him. Behind them, was a much younger sadhu, whose beauty and sweetness were captivating! Swami Maharaj told him they were Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Sanatana Goswami, and their nephew, Srila Jiva Goswami. He then said they spoke to him and gave him mercy and guidance for his writing and for his future preaching. I tried to ask more but this is all he would tell me.”
Our Hare Krishna movement is not only based on the teachings and the realizations of Rupa Goswami but great inspiration and support from Rupa Goswami to Srila Prabhupada to do his work. In the preface of Nectar of Instruction, Prabhupada writes, “The Krishna consciousness movement is conducted under the supervision of Srila Rupa Goswami.” And he spoke, “We are called rupanuga. Anuga means following. rupa indicates Rupa Goswami. So, we should be rupanugas. As Rupa Goswami is following his predecessor, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, we have to follow our predecessor. Then we will be successful.”
Here’s Prabhupada’s description: “A follower of the Krishna consciousness movement should be a perfect Goswami.” So, fasten your seat belts everybody! We’re supposed to become followers of Rupa Goswami.
That’s part one; that’s who is the author of this amazing book.
I’ll mention one other thing. Repeatedly, Prabhupada made it clear how much he wanted—committed and dedicated he was—to complete the translation of the twelve cantos of Srimad Bhagavatam. But he took time out to translate other things, like, the whole of Caitanya-Caritamrta, and Krsna book. And he also translated two books of Rupa Gowami. One was the summary study of the title “Nectar of Devotion” and the other was a word-for-word, like he did everything else, translation of this Upadesamrta.
This is the first verse, where it speaks of controlling six urges. And here’s the verse:
vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam
etan vegan yo visaheta dhirah
sarvam apimam prthivim sa sisyat
It’s speaking of the urges and the necessity to control the urges. One who is successful in doing so—sarvam apimam prthivim sa sisyat—can make disciples or can be a spiritual master for the whole world. Here’s the translation: “A sober person, dhira, who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualiﬁed to make disciples all over the world.”
Before initiation, there’s a 13-question exam you take. This is one of the answers to one of the questions, “What is the qualification of a spiritual master?” Text 1 of Nectar of Instruction.
These six urges, one has to tolerate or control. There’s a sequence our acaryas describe, just like steps going up to the temple of bhakti. Prabhupada would often say the genitals, the belly, the tongue are in a straight line. Great emphasis is given by Rupa Goswami on controlling the tongue, which then helps control the belly, and then in turn helps control the genitals. In addition to tasting, the other function of the tongue is speaking. And then, anger. Then comes mana, the pushings of the mind. In the Chicago temple, the morning classes have been Narada Muni’s discussions with King Pracinabarhi, where he’s describing the effect the mind has on the body. The seat of happiness and distress is the mind, not the body. If one can control these six ~ Verse 1 says that one can ~ one attains the house of Bhakti. One becomes qualified spiritually. It is very important to control these six.
Out of the whole first verse, there is a particularly important operative word. And that’s visaheta, meaing to tolerate. Very similar to the language found in Chapter 2 Bhagavad Gita. tams titiksasva bharata (BG 2.14)
matra-sparsas tu kaunteya
tams titiksasva bharata
One should tolerate. That means we withdraw attention or energy from duality and place attention or consciousness on that which is eternal, sat. Withdraw consciousness from asat and place consciousness in sat. That which is going on in the asat realm, minimally, you must tolerate. visaheta dhirah. Here are some dictionary definitions of what tolerate means: “To allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of something without prohibition or hindrance; permit; to endure without repugnance; to put up with. Like, for example, ‘I can tolerate laziness, but not incompetence.’” I don’t know about that one, but that’s what the dictionary says.
There is vast difference between tolerance which takes the form of repression and tolerance which takes the form of suppression. Which one is not tolerance? Repression is rejection from consciousness of painful or disagreeable ideas, memories, feelings, or impulses. That’s not exactly what tolerance means. Suppression: conscious inhibition of an impulse. That’s what tolerance means. This is visaheta. Consider: here comes an impulse. You recognize the impulse, but consciously you don’t act on it. You tolerate it. You withdraw consciousness from it. Consciously, you withdraw your consciousness from it and place your consciousness elsewhere. We had this elaborate discussion in our Bhagavatam class, not exactly on the words visaheta or tolerance, but what to you do when…. For example, somebody was speaking about the tendency to fault-find. They predicate the mind of other people and speculate regarding their motives. It’s compulsive for them. Repeatedly, over and over again they do that. One of the temple Brahmacaris was saying, “I know it’s not good, but it just goes on. So, what do I do?” Consciously, you put a control rod in that turbo charger. Don’t go there! Instead, go to another position. Consciously, take that energy and redirect that energy. Visaheta means conscious inhibition of an impulse; not repression, but consciously redirecting attention to a spiritually healthy subject matter.
Here’s one of the things that Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita about this: “A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires, which enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still, can alone achieve peace and not the man who tries to satisfy such desires.” So, the vegams can be there, or the desires can be there, but you tolerate them. You don’t place value in them. Somebody sent something to me just today. It was a Cherokee Indian Elder teaching his son about the two wolves fighting inside. One is goodness and the other is evil. And they’re at war with each other and the son said to the father, “Well, who wins?” And the father’s answer is, “Whichever one you feed.” So, neglect! Don’t invest consciousness in desires and urges and that which lead downward. Instead invest, or place consciousness, give attention to that which leads to elevation ~ principles of the soul, to humble devotional service, that are pleasing to Krishna, striving that Krishna’s happiness should be fulfilled. And that’s how you correct the problem. That’s how you remain peaceful. Not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.
This first verse has great deal to do with the mind. How does the mind become conquered and become one’s friend? Or the other way around. Suggestions by Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur are: ignoring the mind, or engaging the mind in the spiritual master’s orders.
Here’s a verse from the fifth canto of the Bhagavatam: “This uncontrolled mind is the greatest enemy of the living entity. If one neglects it or gives it a chance, it will grow more and more powerful and it will become victorious. Although it is not factual it is very strong, it covers the constitutional position of the soul, Oh King, please try to conquer this mind by the weapon of service to the lotus feet of the spiritual master and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Do this with great care.”
Here is a little chart called “Disciple of Suffering.” This is taken from the Nectar of Devotion in part. There are these four stages: prarabdha karma. That’s down here. These are karmic reactions that are presently being manifested. Good or bad karma that is manifesting right now. Over there we see aprarabdha karma, not yet manifest. Sinful action leads to a sinful reaction, which may not immediately manifest, but eventually manifests. It may not directly manifest, but display itself as a tendency, or remain as a seed of a particular desire. All of this has one root: ignorance. Where tolerance comes in is right over here. There’s a sinful desire. And before there’s an action, before you act on that desire, you recognize, “This isn’t appropriate. This came from some previous experience, some previous existence.” This is exactly what the teaching of Narada to King Pracinabarhi is. “It came from some previous body that isn’t even around anymore. But, because of that action in the previous body, some impression is stored in the mind and so now, there’s a desire that’s stored in the heart. And now—tick, tock, tick, tock—time fructifies it and now comes out as a specific thought or desire. It’s an urge. Now, what do I do? I don’t pay attention to it. I tolerate it. I withdraw consciousness from there, recognizing what it is. It’s temporary, illusory, and it’s not me. That requires transcendental knowledge, and it requires some strength. And the strength comes from the instruction of the scripture and the spiritual master to do so.
There’s a very nice teaching. There’s many very nice teachings. One of them is, Prabhupada said, “Whenever the spiritual master gives instruction, within the instruction itself is the power to carry out the instruction.” That’s pretty nice, huh? Should I say it again? “Whenever the spiritual master gives some instruction, within the instruction itself is the power to carry out the instruction.” Or similarly, Krishna gives us instruction: control the mind. “Oh my god! Give me another one. Some other instruction, please! One that I can do.” “Well, no, you’re supposed to do that one.” “No, well, give me an easier one.” Huh?
Here is Bhaktivinod Thakura commenting from his commentary on Nectar of Instruction on this verse. “The devotees are intent on yukta vairagya. And thus, they remain aloof from dry renunciation. Therefore, the regulation to abandon all contact with the sense objects does not pertain to them.” What does that mean? The impersonalists are refraining from sense objects. Their urges are there. Their refraining is completely abstaining. For the devotee, it’s not completely abstaining, it’s rather engaging in service to Krishna. This is another Rupa Goswami’s teaching. This Sunday lecture, this is what I spoke about. There’s two verses from Nectar of Devotion by Rupa Goswami, in which he says what false or incomplete renunciation is, and what complete renunciation is. So, in short, complete renunciation is seeing that which is in relation to Krishna—and everything is in relation to Krishna—and then, engaging that thing, that something, in service to Krishna. That’s complete renunciation. Incomplete renunciation is things have relationship with Krishna, and you reject them. But the reality is it’s not ours to reject; it’s Krishna’s! So, that which is Krishna’s can be, should be, engaged in service to Krishna. So, the yukta vairagya principle provides spiritual strength. It’s engaging in service to Krishna under the guidance and instruction of the spiritual master. That spiritual strength that enables us to overcome desires and urges. And, it works! It uplifts the consciousness of the soul above that lower platform.
Here’s a verse from Padma Purana that expresses a similar idea as Rupa Goswami’s idea. I’m not going to read the whole thing. I’ll just read the bottom: “Thus agitated, the cultivation of suddha bhakti is not possible. In order to make the hearts of those who are pursuing the path of bhajan intent on bhakti, Sri Rupa Goswami has composed this verse first.” This is taken from Bhaktivinod Thakura’s commentary. He has a whole series of verses. There’s the Padma Purana verse, and he’s giving his purport: “There are pushings. And one should refrain from those pushings. They agitate the mind. Thus agitated, pure devotional service isn’t possible.” So, the starting point of Rupa Goswami’s first verse is how to come to stage of pure devotional service. That’s where he begins!
Srila Prabhupada writes in the beginning of his purport that there are different grades or qualities of intelligence. One, the first class intelligence is we can understand just by hearing. That’s a brahmana. Just by hearing, they can understand. But some persons don’t have that capacity. So, they hear and then, they see. And then they can understand. Some other persons, they hear, and they see, and they experience, and then they can understand. And then there are others that they hear, they see, and they experience and they still don’t understand. That’s the fourth class. Ideal, through training and uplifting the quality by regulation to the quality of the mode of goodness, one can understand just by hearing.
Prabhupada writes in his purport about the question which arises in the sixth canto of the Bhagavatam in discussions between Maharaj Pariksit and Sukadev Goswami. Paraphrasing: Maharaj Pariksit asks, “Why do people undergo atonement if they cannot control their senses?” He gives the example of the elephant. Just like the elephant takes a nice bath, then afterwards, rolls in the sand. Or takes dust from the bank and throws that all over the body. kusjara-saucavat. Sukadev Goswami’s answer is “Sinful activity cannot be counteracted by a pious activity. Real atonement is awakening of our dormant Krishna consciousness.” Similarly, that is the very same message of this starting verse. It’s not explicit; it’s implicit. One can overcome those urges if one is situated in Krishna consciousness. Conversely, if one isn’t situated in Krishna consciousness, lower urges are going to prevail. One can be better at it, or poorer at it. But lower urges are going to prevail to a greater or lesser degree. The way to overcome them completely—those urges arising from past activities, the very source from which desires arise via some impression stored in the mind—is through bhakti. This is exactly what Narada is explaining to King Pracinabarhi—the solution is not atonement, the solution is awakening of Krishna consciousness.
On the screen are two verses from that section of the Bhagavatam where Maharaj Pariksit is receiving this instruction. kecit kevalaya bhaktya vasudeva-parayanah. “Only a rare person, who has adopted complete unalloyed devotional service to Krishna, can uproot the weeds of sinful actions with no possibility that they will revive. He can do this simply by discharging devotional service just as the sun can immediately dissipate fog by its rays. My dear king, if a sinful person engages in the service of a bonafide devotee of the Lord and thus learns how to dedicate his life unto the lotus feet of Krishna, he can be completely purified. One cannot be purified merely by undergoing austerity, penance, brahmacarya, and the other methods of atonement I have previously described.”
The starting point of Nectar of Instruction is pure devotional service! To describe what that pure devotional service is, he describes the capacity to overcome desires or urges borne of one’s previous activity.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura writes the following in his Bhagavad Gita commentary for 2.41: “The best kind of intelligence I can have is intelligence used in the service of Krishna. Intelligence is described as fixed, dhira, when he is intent upon my spiritual master’s instruction…” This is the vyavasayatmika buddhih verse, very important verse. “…such as…” and he lists, “…whether I am happy to be distressed, whether the material world remains or is destroyed, I do not care. There is no loss for me. I simply must carry out the orders of my spiritual master. Fixedness upon his orders is determined intelligence and devotional service. And only by being fixed on his orders can such determined intelligence prosper.” Only by determined intelligence, or proper intelligence, the mind is controlled. And if one doesn’t have that proper intelligence, the mind controls. Urges or pushings prevail and consequent behaviors are embarrassing. To go back to the spiritual position, to attain the spiritual position through instruction ~ hearing through instruction ~ should be our goal at all cost. Whatever my deficiencies are and weaknesses are and shortcomings are, let me not budge an inch from the instructions. Within descending instruction, in striving to fulfill those instructions, therein we will discover all spiritual potency required to overcome my material conditioning.
Prabhupada gives the example of following hygienic principles so you don’t become sick. Similarly, by a regulated life based upon the spiritually-directed tapasya, one can be elevated to Krishna consciousness. Not the material kind of tapasya, but exercising the austerity of not acting whimsically, not acting capriciously, not just going where the senses dictate; you go wherever Krishna dictates. Krishna’s dictation is understood through the spiritual master and we simply follow. Then, Krishna consciousness awakens. The wet wood becomes dry wood, then, the dry wood ignites. That’s our process.
By practicing austerity and celibacy, following the four principles, controlling the mind and senses, by regulation, by giving up one’s possessions in charity, by being avowedly truthful—these are items Bhaktivinoda Thakura presents in his commentary—they help one gradually become qualified to receive bhakti nicely. These items are on the material side, but they help make wet wood dry wood. That’s the gradual process. And then there’s the direct process. Associate with pure devotees, follow the principles given by them. It’s like the elevator and the staircase. This is the elevator. Sadhu-sanga and following their instructions. Specifically, we are advised to take the recommendations of Srila Rupa Goswami to heart. They are very scientifically, very clearly, very simply presented. They serve as a map how to get out of the maze of material existence and restore our original spiritual existence.
The end. Haribol. Srila Prabhupada ki jai!
Devotee: Guru Maharaj, it’s a very strong inspiration to strengthen one’s relationship with one’s spiritual master—your class, especially, Rupa Goswami’s example and his teachings. My question is, how does one enter more deeply, even deeply, in understanding the mood of the spiritual master?
Romapada Swami: How do you have a relationship? I was hearing Srila Prabhupada just today on a recording, speaking about the limited association he had with Bhaktisiddhanta. He said he had his direct association very limitedly. He said, “Maximum ten times I was in the physical presence of Bhatkisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura.” And then, he said, “Maybe it was fewer than that.” Then he went back and said, “Maximum ten times. But I never deviated from the instruction of my spiritual master.” Your question specifically was how to more deeply understand the mood of the spiritual master. Within his instructions, you’ll understand so many things. What’s the math? Prabhupada left this world 1977, November. So, that’s 23 years plus 12. 35 years. 35 years of devotional service without being able to go and physically be with Prabhupada and hear him speak and see him. How is it possible that one can sustain ones enthusiasm in Krishna consciousness, or understand the mood of the spiritual master, without his physical presence? By commitment to the person, and the instruction of the person. Just as Prabhupada said about himself and Bhaktisiddhanta. He had full faith, and he adhered to the instruction that he received from him. It’s a commitment to the person, it’s a commitment to the relationship with the person. And within that relationship you find the instructions of the person, which guide one’s life. Just like the 2.41 purport, instructions become one’s life and soul. Then, it’s no longer a question “how do you go more deeply.” It’s your life and soul. That’s how we gain access to Krishna. That’s our teaching. We all know when something is superficial and we know that we don’t like it when we see it. And we know what is genuine and we like it when we see it and we feel it. So, just do that. And not the cosmetic one, the real one. The real one is not circumstantial. It’s not created by or broken by circumstance. Duality doesn’t create or impede devotion. Circumstance doesn’t create it or destroy it. That’s our access.
Devotee: Yes, thank you Maharaj for your very inspiring message. You were speaking about [inaudible….] Six and a half weeks ago, you gave me instructions, you know, about how to make some advancement based on my situation. And you said, whenever a spiritual master gives an instruction, he also empowers one to carry out the instruction. And…
Romapada Swami: Sounds like something I just said today.
Devotee: Yes. And, I have some difficulty over the last six and a half weeks mostly coming from my mind about how I was going to accomplish the instruction, when was the instruction going to come to fruition. I just struggled in controlling my mind about this. The days I focused on the actual instruction and associated with pure devotees and asked questions about how I do what guru asked me to do, I had some of the greatest advancement in attaining the goal. And on the days that I did not, I kind of teeter-tottered on whether or not I would be able to do…
Romapada Swami: He who hesitates is lost.
Devotee: Right. So today, I’ll just announce that I’ve attained the goal. I’ve achieved the instruction as the teach…
Romapada Swami: Yes, you’re making a step, that’s all that is required. Attaining is very high, a step is more reachable.
Romapada Swami: Okay. Okay.
Devotee: So, I feel successful.
Romapada Swami: One step at a time. One step at a time.
Devotee: Maharaj, can you please elaborate more on repression versus suppression, and how to understand it?
Romapada Swami: It’s a language thing. The most important element in making this distinction is the essence or the mood of renunciation. Repression is just like tuck the unwanted thing under the rug, like it’s not there. And the other is, you acknowledge that it’s there and you consciously don’t act on it. You withdraw consciousness from something that’s unwanted and place it where it’s wanted. This is the distinction.
Hare Krishna. Srila Prabhupada ki jai!