Q. 255. WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF DEVOTEES` ASSOCIATION ?
A. BY SRILA PRABHUPADA.
tulayāma lavenāpina svargaḿ nāpunar-bhavambhagavat-sańgi-sańgasyamartyānāḿ kim utāśiṣaḥSYNONYMStulayāma — to be balanced with; lavena — by a moment; api — even; na — never; svargam — heavenly planets; na — nor; apunaḥ-bhavam — liberation from matter; bhagavat-sańgi — devotee of the Lord; sańgasya — of the association; martyānām — those who are meant for death; kim — what is there; uta — tospeak of; āśiṣaḥ — worldly benediction.TRANSLATIONThe value of a moment's association with the devotee of the Lord cannot even be compared to the attainment of heavenly planets or liberation from matter, and what to speak of worldly benedictions in the form of material prosperity, which are for those who are meant for death.(Srimad Bhagavatam).PURPORTWhen there are some similar points, it is possible to compare one thing to another. One cannot compare the association of a pure devotee to anything material. Men who are addicted to material happiness aspire to reach the heavenly planets like the moon, Venus and Indraloka, and those who are advanced in material philosophical speculations aspire after liberation from all material bondage.When one becomes frustrated with all kinds of material advancement, one desires the opposite type of liberation, which is called apunar-bhava, or no rebirth. But the pure devotees of the Lord do not aspire after the happiness obtained in the heavenly kingdom, nor do they aspire after liberation from material bondage.In other words, for the pure devotees of the Lord the material pleasures obtainable in the heavenly planets are like phantasmagoria, and because they are already liberated from all material conceptions of pleasure and distress, they are factually liberated even in the material world. This means that the pure devotees of the Lord are engaged in a transcendental existence, namely in the loving service of the Lord, both in the material world and in the spiritual world.As a government servant is always the same, either in the office or at home or at any place, so a devotee has nothing to do with anything material, for he is exclusively engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord. Since he has nothing to do with anything material, what pleasure can he derive from material benedictions like kingship or other overlordships, which are finished quickly with the end of the body?Devotional service is eternal; it has no end, because it is spiritual. Therefore, since the assets of a pure devotee are completely different from material assets, there is no comparison between the two. Sūta Gosvāmī was a pure devotee of the Lord, and therefore his association with the ṛṣis in Naimiṣāraṇya is unique.In the material world, association with gross materialists is veritably condemned. The materialist is called yoṣit-sańgī, or one who is much attached to material entanglement (women and other paraphernalia). Such attachment is conditioned because it drives away the benedictions of life and prosperity.And just the opposite is bhāgavata-sańgī, or one who is always in the association with the Lord's name, form, qualities, etc. Such association is always desirable; it is worshipable, it is praiseworthy, and one may accept it as the highest goal of life.satāḿ prasańgān mama vīrya-saḿvidobhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥtaj-joṣaṇād āśv apavarga-vartmaniśraddhā ratir bhaktir anukramiṣyatiSYNONYMSsatām — of pure devotees; prasańgāt — through the association; mama — My; vīrya — wonderful activities; saḿvidaḥ — by discussion of; bhavanti — become;hṛt — to the heart; karṇa — to the ear; rasa-ayanāḥ — pleasing; kathāḥ — the stories; tat — of that; joṣaṇāt — by cultivation; āśu — quickly; apavarga — of liberation; vartmani — on the path; śraddhā — firm faith; ratiḥ — attraction; bhaktiḥ — devotion; anukramiṣyati — will follow in order.TRANSLATIONIn the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin. (Srimad Bhagavatam).PURPORTThe process of advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and devotional service is described here. The first point is that one must seek the association of persons who are Kṛṣṇa conscious and who engage in devotional service. Without such association one cannot make advancement. Simply by theoretical knowledge or study one cannot make any appreciable advancement.One must give up the association of materialistic persons and seek the association of devotees because without the association of devotees one cannot understand the activities of the Lord. Generally, people are convinced of the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth. Because they do not associate with devotees, they cannot understand that the Absolute Truth can be a person and have personal activities.This is a very difficult subject matter, and unless one has personal understanding of the Absolute Truth, there is no meaning to devotion. Service or devotion cannot be offered to anything impersonal. Service must be offered to a person.Nondevotees cannot appreciate Kṛṣṇa consciousness by reading the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or any other Vedic literature wherein the activities of the Lord are described; they think that these activities are fictional, manufactured stories because spiritual life is not explained to them in the proper mood.To understand the personal activities of the Lord, one has to seek the association of devotees, and by such association, when one contemplates and tries to understand the transcendental activities of the Lord, the path to liberation is open, and he is freed. One who has firm faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead becomes fixed, and his attraction for association with the Lord and the devotees increases.Association with devotees means association with the Lord. The devotee who makes this association develops the consciousness for rendering service to the Lord, and then, being situated in the transcendental position of devotional service, he gradually becomes perfect.bhaktyā pumāñ jāta-virāga aindriyāddṛṣṭa-śrutān mad-racanānucintayācittasya yatto grahaṇe yoga-yuktoyatiṣyate ṛjubhir yoga-mārgaiḥSYNONYMSbhaktyā — by devotional service; pumān — a person; jāta-virāgaḥ — having developed distaste; aindriyāt — for sense gratification; dṛṣṭa — seen (in this world); śrutāt — heard (in the next world); mat-racana — My activities of creation and so on; anucintayā — by constantly thinking about; cittasya — of the mind; yattaḥ — engaged; grahaṇe — in the control; yoga-yuktaḥ — situated in devotional service; yatiṣyate — will endeavor; ṛjubhiḥ — easy; yoga-mārgaiḥ — by the processes of mystic power.TRANSLATIONThus consciously engaged in devotional service in the association of devotees, a person gains distaste for sense gratification, both in this world and in the next, by constantly thinking about the activities of the Lord. This process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the easiest process of mystic power; when one is actually situated on that path of devotional service, he is able to control the mind. (Srimad Bhagavatam).tasmān naro 'sańga-susańga-jāta-jñānāsinehaiva vivṛkṇa-mohaḥhariḿ tad-īhā-kathana-śrutābhyāḿlabdha-smṛtir yāty atipāram adhvanaḥSYNONYMStasmāt — for this reason; naraḥ — every person; asańga — by detachment from the association of worldly people; su-sańga — by the association of devotees;jāta — produced; jñāna-asinā — by the sword of knowledge; iha — in this material world; eva — even; vivṛkṇa-mohaḥ — whose illusion is completely cut topieces; harim — the Supreme Personality of Godhead; tad-īhā — of His activities; kathana-śrutābhyām — by the two processes of hearing and chanting;labdha-smṛtiḥ — the lost consciousness is regained; yāti — achieves; atipāram — the ultimate end; adhvanaḥ — of the path back home, back to Godhead.TRANSLATIONSimply by associating with exalted devotees, anyone can attain perfection of knowledge and with the sword of knowledge can cut to pieces the illusory associations within this material world. Through the association of devotees, one can engage in the service of the Lord by hearing and chanting [śravaṇaḿ kīrtanam]. Thus one can revive his dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness and, sticking to the cultivation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, return home, back to Godhead, even in this life.(Srimad Bhagavatam).sādhu-sańge kṛṣṇa-bhaktye śraddhā yadi hayabhakti-phala 'prema' haya, saḿsāra yāya kṣayaSYNONYMSsādhu-sańge — by the association of devotees; kṛṣṇa-bhaktye — in discharging devotional service to Kṛṣṇa; śraddhā — faith; yadi — if; haya — there is;bhakti-phala — the result of devotional service to Kṛṣṇa; prema — love of Godhead; haya — awakens; saḿsāra — the conditioned life in material existence; yāyakṣaya — becomes vanquished.TRANSLATION"By associating with a devotee, one awakens his faith in devotional service to Kṛṣṇa. Because of devotional service, one's dormant love for Kṛṣṇa awakens, and thus one's material, conditioned existence comes to an end." (Sri Caitanya Caritamrta).'sādhu-sańga', 'sādhu-sańga' — sarva-śāstre kayalava-mātra sādhu-sańge sarva-siddhi hayaSYNONYMSsādhu-sańga sādhu-sańga — association with pure devotees; sarva-śāstre — all the revealed scriptures; kaya — say; lava-mātra — even for a moment;sādhu-sańge — by association with a devotee; sarva-siddhi — all success; haya — there is.TRANSLATION"The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment's association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success."(Sri caitanya Caritamrta).kṛṣṇa-bhakti-janma-mūla haya 'sādhu-sańga'kṛṣṇa-prema janme, teńho punaḥ mukhya ańgaSYNONYMSkṛṣṇa-bhakti — of devotional service to Kṛṣṇa; janma-mūla — the root cause; haya — is; sādhu-sańga — association with advanced devotees; kṛṣṇa-prema — love of Kṛṣṇa; janme — awakens; teńho — that same association with devotees; punaḥ — again; mukhya ańga — the chief principle.TRANSLATIONThe root cause of devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa is association with advanced devotees. Even when one's dormant love for Kṛṣṇa awakens, association with devotees is still most essential." (Sri Caitanya Caritamrta).sādhu-sańga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgavata-śravaṇamathurā-vāsa, śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevanaSYNONYMSsādhu-sańga — association with devotees; nāma-kīrtana — chanting the holy name; bhāgavata-śravaṇa — hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam; mathurā-vāsa — living atMathurā; śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevana — worshiping the Deity with faith and veneration.TRANSLATION"One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, reside at Mathurā and worship the Deity with faith and veneration." (Sri Caitanya Caritamrta).sādhu-sańga haite haya 'śravaṇa-kīrtana'sādhana-bhaktye haya 'sarvānartha-nivartana'SYNONYMSsādhu-sańga haite — from association with devotees; haya — there is; śravaṇa-kīrtana — hearing, chanting and so on; sādhana-bhaktye — by devotional service;haya — there is; sarva — all; anartha-nivartana — disappearance of unwanted things.TRANSLATION"When one is encouraged in devotional service by the association of devotees, one becomes free from all unwanted contamination by following the regulative principles and chanting and hearing." (Sri Caitanya Caritamrta).sādhu-sańga-kṛpā kimvā kṛṣṇera kṛpāyakāmādi 'duḥsańga' chāḍi' śuddha-bhakti pāyaSYNONYMSsādhu-sańga-kṛpā — by the mercy of association with devotees; kimvā — or; kṛṣṇera kṛpāya — by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa; kāma-ādi — material desires and so on;duḥsańga — unwanted association; chāḍi' — giving up; śuddha-bhakti pāya — one obtains the platform of pure devotional life.TRANSLATIONOne is elevated to the platform of devotional life by the mercy of a Vaiṣṇava, the bona fide spiritual master, and by the special mercy of Kṛṣṇa. On that platform, one gives up all material desires and the association of unwanted people. Thus one is elevated to the platform of pure devotional service." (Sri Caitanya Caritamrta).sādhu-sańga, kṛṣṇa-kṛpā, bhaktira svabhāvae tine saba chāḍāya, kare kṛṣṇe 'bhāva'SYNONYMSsādhu-sańga — the association of devotees; kṛṣṇa-kṛpā — the mercy of Lord Kṛṣṇa; bhaktira — of devotional service; svabhāva — nature; e tine — these three;saba chāḍāya — cause one to give up everything else; kare — do; kṛṣṇe — unto Lord Kṛṣṇa; bhāva — the loving affairs.TRANSLATION"Association with a devotee, the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, and the nature of devotional service help one to give up all undesirable association and gradually attain elevation to the platform of love of Godhead." (Sri Caitanya Caritamrta).kṛṣṇa-kṛpāya sādhu-sańge rati-buddhi pāyasaba chāḍi' śuddha-bhakti kare kṛṣṇa-pāyaSYNONYMSkṛṣṇa-kṛpāya — by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa; sādhu-sańge — in the association of devotees; rati-buddhi — devotional attraction and intelligence; pāya — one obtains;saba chāḍi' — giving up everything; śuddha-bhakti — pure devotional service; kare — performs; kṛṣṇa-pāya — at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.TRANSLATION"By the mercy of Kṛṣṇa and by the association of devotees, one increases his attraction to and intelligence for pure devotional service; therefore one gives up everything and engages himself at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa and His pure devotees." (Sri Caitanya Caritamrta).