15 May 1996 Radlett
A Bosom Friend of ISKCON
[Hari-katha spoken by Nitya Lila Pravista Om Visnupada Astottara Sata Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja – Srila Gurudeva]
To listen to the audio file of this class, please click on this link:
Srila Gurudeva: Sukadeva Gosvami was the most obedient disciple. He employed many means that kindled everyone’s loving devotion to Krishna. He would sometimes speak crookedly, and not openly. He would not speak in a prominent way. He would speak on a topic that would specifically apply only to the householders; the message to the householders would carry a very deep meaning.
Krishna told the gopis, “You should return to your homes now that you have seen the beautiful scenery of this Vrindavana forest. The moon is shining radiantly, the water of the Yamuna is sparkling. All the peacocks and parrots are making such enchanting, sweet sounds! You have seen how lovely the forest is, but now you should return and serve your husbands.”
“You should serve your husbands even if they are crooked, lame, and ugly. They may also be very poor and bereft of all good qualities, but still, you should serve your husbands.” Do you know what the gopis’ reply was?
They replied, “We are ready to follow what You say, You are our teacher. You are the best of all teachers. We will follow exactly what You have to say, but You will also have to follow what You say. Or else, sin will touch You.”
“You have said, ‘Sarva dharmam parityajna mam ekam saranam vraja,’ You proclaim to be the husband and brother of all. You say, ‘I am all-in-all.’ The two slokas, ‘Isvarah parama Krishna, satcitananda vigraha, anadir adir govinda sarva karana karanam,’ and, ‘Ye yatha mam prapadyante, tams tathaiva bhajam aham,’ were also spoken by You. You say, ‘Those who serve Me, I reciprocally serve them. If they serve me by only a fraction of their hearts, I also serve them by only a fraction of My heart.’”
The gopis continued, “Now, You are going back on Your words, You should not do so. You must follow what You have proclaimed. Now, You are our guru, and guru must be worshiped before anyone else. So, we will worship and serve You first, and You must accept our service. Otherwise, You will be guilty of committing sin and You will face difficulties. We know that You are the husband of all. Hence, You are our husband also. So, we should serve You even if you are lame, ugly, or black. We must serve You.”
So, Krishna was defeated by the gopis’ arguments.
Krishna told the yajna-patnis (the wives of the brahmanas of Mathura), “Return to your husbands,” and the yajna-patnis went away. But, the gopis did not return to their husbands.
So, Sukadeva Gosvami has spoken directly at times, and indirectly at other times. Only the bona fide devotees who sincerely serve their holy master and Rasik Vaisnavas, can understand and follow the import of his statements. Or else, they will be unable to understand. And for many lives, they will be in the same class of devotion and their bhakti will turn dry. Consequently, they will give up the line of devotion. Bhakti is like a current, if a dam is made and placed before this current, the current will be checked and stopped. So, our bhakti should always flow like a forceful current and this current should not be stopped by any obstacles. Svamiji and our Guruvarga embody this dynamic current of bhakti. This current originated from Krishna who passed it down to Brahma and this current culminates in the presence of our guru. If we want to control this current by many rules and regulations, then the current will be stopped. Bhakti is not bound by any artificial rules and regulations. Bhakti is bound by her own rule and regulation—love and affection. By control, everything will be spoiled. Bhakti is not controlled by any artificial rules and regulations, she is controlled by her own transcendental rules and regulations. If this current of bhakti is unchecked, it will flow and reach the lotus feet of Srimati Radhika and Krishna. We see in the pastimes of Krishna that no one could control the gopis. People think that the gopis went in the opposite direction of morality, because they left their husbands, children, and Vedic dharma. They even gave up their shame. But, no rules and regulations could control them. They were determined to meet Krishna and although the forest had no path; they found their way through and reached the spot where Krishna was present.
So, bhakti should never be controlled. We should only be careful to not let any water of misconceptions adulterate this pure flow of bhakti. There is nothing else there for us to control. We will only need to facilitate this flow of bhakti. What is this water of misconceptions that we should protect our bhakti from? This bad water symbolizes the misconceptions of karma, jnana, and other false ideologies. These detrimental ideologies should never be entertained by the devotees. Srila Rupa Gosvami and Jiva Gosvami have done marvelous seva. They never checked bhakti, but rather, protected her embankments. Srila Vishvnatha Cakravarthi Thakura, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvathi Thakura, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, and our Guruvarga are so generous! Before he took Sannyasa, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja was often residing in Mathura. There, he would sit with me, and engage in kirtana with me. We would engage in many services together.
He told me once, “If I go to the Western countries, I will build boarding houses. There, I will accommodate students and I will allow them to do anything, but they should engage themselves in Harinama-sankirtana also. If they want to consume eggs, meat, and wine, or anything else; they may do so, but I know surely that by the transcendental effects of harinama, after some days, very soon, after a two or three days, they will forsake these deplorable habits. They will quit these habits by their own accord; there will be no need to order them around or control them. They will join the Krishna consciousness movement and they will all be very good devotees.”
Svamiji was so liberal! These are some of the specialties of bona fide Acharyas. You cannot have these transcendental qualities if you try to control everyone. You try to control your divine master also. You tell your Gurudeva, “Oh don’t go there! You should be situated here and do this. You should not associate with those devotees.” These are not the services of a bona fide disciple. A pure devotee has not come to make a sectarian group, he has only come to strengthen the Krishna consciousness of the devotees that will enable them to go to Goloka Vrindavana. He has only come to help them. He has not come to impose rules and regulations over devotees and to rule over them. It has been written in Sri Caitanya Caritamrita:
Guru sevaka hoye manya…
A devotee should think, “Anyone who serves Gurudeva, even if a dog serves him, I am indebted to it. I will try to serve these servants of my Gurudeva in all respects.” You have forgotten this Vaisnava etiquette and that is why many problems are coming and you are in a crisis. You should try to follow proper Vaisnava etiquette. If a person chants the names of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Radha-Krishna, and he has a little bit of shraddha, faith, to Svamiji or any Vaisnava; he should be honored so much. If you want to serve Radha-Krishna, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, you must follow this Vaisnava etiquette and if you don’t want to serve Them, you should artificially follow the rules and regulations. By this, you will get money and some devotees to control over. But, you will not develop your divine love for Radha-Krishna. If you want divine love, you should certainly follow what has been written in Caitanya Caritamrita. You should follow Rupa Gosvami and our Guruvarga.
You should not think, “I will only follow my Gurudeva. I will only serve him and I will cut the head of all others.”
These devotees will stop other devotees from entering the temple.
Today, I have spoken more than I ever did during my stay in Holland.
Devotee: It is very warm in here. Are you still feeling cold?
Srila Gurudeva: No. Here, I don’t want to go outside.
The devotees inspire me. Whenever I see any Vaisnava, I am inspired.
Devotee: You inspire our hearts.
Sripada Madhava Maharaja: This is Govinda-bhakta.
Srila Gurudeva: Oh you are Govinda-bhakta? Are you a disciple of Gaura Govinda Maharaja?
Sripada Ashrama Maharaja: Yes.
Srila Gurudeva: I wanted to meet you.
Sripada Madhava Maharaja: And she is Anandini-devi.
Srila Gurudeva: Yes, I have met her. Any order for me?
We should go downstairs for ten or fifteen minutes. I am coming in some time.
Gaura Premanande! Haribol!
[Break of audio]
[Srila Gurudeva begins class]
Srila Gurudeva: First of all, I want to offer my entire love and affection at the lotus feet of my spiritual master, Nitya Lila Pravista Om Vishnupada Astotara sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja and to the lotus feet of my Siksha Guru, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja. I also want to glorify Parama Gurudeva, Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura, by whose mercy the glorification of Sri Radha and Krishna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has manifested everywhere in this world. I also offer my respects to all the assembled devotees. There was no prior program arranged to give a class here today, but I see that many devotees have come here. So, I must speak some harikatha. My main objective in coming to the Western countries is to take the lotus foot dust of Svamiji. I want to visit and take the foot dust of those places where Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja arrived, and began his preaching services. I want to take the holy foot dust of his lotus feet and offer my obeisance to all these holy places. Then I would like to speak harikatha. My first mission in coming to the Western countries is that I go to all the places of the world where Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja preached and imprinted the foot dust of his lotus feet. He wanted me to accompany him when he first came to the Western countries. He repeatedly requested me to accompany him everywhere. But, I requested and told him, “My holy master is here. I am serving him. So, after some time I will join your mission and try to serve and help you in every respect.”
I am realizing how Svamiji himself has managed for me to come to all the places he preached in. He wanted that I help in his preaching services, and because he was a satya-sankalpa purusha, his words had to come true. Do you know who a satya-sankalpa purusha is? He never speaks lies, and what he has decided upon, must become true and factual. Krishna is satya-sankalpa, all incarnations, and bona fide, realized devotees are satya-sankalpa. Any decision they make or any thought they give due consideration on, must become true. Svamiji’s words can never be false. He told me at first to come and his words must become true and bear fruit. That is why, it is going to be proved that by my holy master’s grace, especially by Svamiji’s grace, and by the wish of Radha-Krishna Conjugal and Caitanya Mahaprabhu, I am going to many countries and engaging in my services to my Lordships.
So, my first business in coming here, is to take the lotus foot dust of Svamiji, from all the countries he visited in the course of his preaching. By visiting all these countries, I want to see how in a very short time, Svamiji preached the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his Gurudeva. If I touch the foot dust of Svamiji, I will have so much energy to do the same and fulfill his mission. So, I have come to these places to fulfill this mission of mine. I also want to thank all the devotees who have come here to attend the festival. I wish to thank all the devotees who are going to leave soon to their own countries, to those devotees who are new; I wish to extend my gratitude to all. I want all the devotees to be as energetic as the devotees were during Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja’s time. If some devotees have lost their faith in Svamiji or in his mission, they can outwardly chant, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna,” but their chanting will be of no use. Devotees should not be fearful of each other. They should also not try to control the other devotees.
So, I have come to give some energy to the devotees, because Svamiji has ordered me to do so. For those devotees who don’t know of this order of Svamiji’s, they can listen to the tape that was recorded during Svamiji’s final days, when Svamiji was readying himself to depart from this world and going to serve his dearest, beloved Lordships—Sri Radha and Krishna. At that time, he called me and told me many confidential, deep truths. He told me to always help the leaders and devotees. I always glorify Svamiji, but I don’t know why the leaders fear from me. In a relationship based on love and affection among devotees, fear has no place. I see in all epics, especially in the Gita and Bhagavat, that those who serve Radha and Krishna and chant harinama, should be fearless like Haridasa Thakura. Haridasa Thakura had no fear when he was attacked by his tormentors at 22 market places, he knew that the body was mortal and the soul was immortal. Why should you fear? Why should we fear when the hands of Krishna and Gurudeva are on our heads? So, they should not fear, rather, they should see and understand the situation.
In this whole world, ISKCON has no bandhu like me. Do you understand?
Devotee: Friend of ISKCON.
Srila Gurudeva: Not friend, a bandhu means someone who is much more superior to a friend. Bandhu means a bosom friend. ISKCON has no father or mother like me. You should understand this. Whether they respect me or not, I will always have full love and affection for ISKCON. I care for them like their father and mother and as a Siksha-Guru. If a disciple abandons the beneficial path and resorts to an unbeneficial one, even though the disciple abandons the guru, the guru can never leave his disciple. So, I can never leave ISKCON, I will have to follow what Svamiji has ordered me to do, whether the leaders like it or not. I will follow Svamiji’s orders whether they are favorable or not. I will always think of how ISKCON can be benefited. If a child doesn’t want to take medicine, which is very bitter, a mother will not relent. For the benefit of the child, she will open the child’s mouth and make him swallow the medicine. She also makes him drink a glass of water so that he swallows it. Whether they realize how dear I am to them or not, I have realized how dear ISKCON and the devotees are to me.
Devotee: You are not a bitter medicine Gurudeva, you are very sweet.
Srila Gurudeva: I pray to Svamiji that he makes a strong impression on their minds, by which they will change their attitudes. They should realize this fact that any Vaisnava who has come to the stage of a Madhyama-adhikari (an intermediate devotee), cannot envy or perform acts of evil intent to anyone. He will not harm even an ant. So, we should always follow the teaching of Caitanya Mahaprabhu:
Trnad api sunicena…
We should not forget this verse. We are not devotees, we are not even Kanistha-adhikaris (novice devotees). You should try to understand all these truths and go on practicing Krishna consciousness. I haven’t come to quarrel or inhibit their preaching. I haven’t come to create any problems to them. I have only come to help them. In Holland, I saw many prominent, senior, and sincere devotees who had left ISKCON. These devotees were inspired again to take to the practice of Krishna consciousness. I became so glad to see them, and I embraced them all. When I was preparing to leave Holland, all the devotees were crying and telling me to return soon. So, I want that all the devotees here, regardless of belonging to ISKCON or not, combine together and serve Prabhupada with their combined efforts.
I pray to Krishna and Svamiji, that the leaders fulfill this desire of mine. I think I will be successful in uniting all devotees, if not today, then in three or four days, or in some time, my plan of uniting all devotees will be successful. If it is not successful, then those that are not following will be ruined. Some devotees think that their Gurudeva and me belong to separate lines of devotion. But we follow the same line of devotion, there is no difference at all. If any difference is perceived, it is due to the fault of the devotees who understand as such. In Caitanya Caritamrita, it has been stated that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the Lord of lords, possessing the six opulences—beauty, strength, knowledge, renunciation, wealth, and fame to an infinite degree. He is the primordial Lord.
isvarah paramah krishnah
anadir adir govindaha
–Sri Brahma-samhita 5.1
[Krsna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.]
But yet, it has also been stated in Caitanya Caritamrita and Srimad Bhagavatham, that the devotee should develop his love and affection to the Lord in such a way that he forgets Krishna to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you cannot forget Krishna’s Godhood, you cannot enter Vrindavana and serve Krishna as a friend, son, or a beloved.
[End of audio file]
[Transcribed by the Bhaktabandhav Team]