Caitanya Chandra dasa's Posts (6)

Working together: Unity in diversity

We can't demand to have the association of only pure devotees in this material world, especially if we are not pure devotees ourselves. We can read in Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta that Srila Prabhupada was not rejecting anybody. Even the lowest person, if he had some sincerity, some propensity to do some service, however small, Srila Prabhupada would accept and engage him. He would "fan the spark" until it became a big fire, capable of incinerating one's contaminations. Similarly, we should also see the good qualities of others and try to engage them in Krsna’s service, according to their natural inclinations. To those who are newer, we can teach (especially through our own example) and engage them in different services. To those who are more or less on the same platform, we can offer our sincere friendship and cooperation, and we can also engage the ones who are senior by inviting them to give classes, to lead kirtan, to lead different programs, and so on. If we act perfectly ourselves, relationship problems with others are going to be rare.

ISKCON is becoming a very big movement. In the beginning, the system was that everybody would renounce everything, go live in the temples, and strive to preach and to become pure devotees. Of course, this is the goal; we can see in Srila Prabhupada's purports, especially in Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, that he is always speaking about the highest principles: how to get detached from this world and become attached to Krsna. For example, in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta (Antya 3.101, purport) he wrote: 

"We must always remember that a devotee’s life is one of vairagya-vidya, or renunciation and knowledge. Therefore all devotees are warned not to live unnecessarily luxurious lives at the cost of others. Grhasthas living within the jurisdiction of the temple must be especially careful not to imitate karmis by acquiring opulent clothing, food and conveyances. As far as possible, these should be avoided. A member of the temple, whether grhastha, brahmacari or sannyasi, must practice a life of renunciation, following in the footsteps of Haridasa Thakura and the six Gosvamis. Otherwise, because maya is very strong, at any time one may become a victim of maya and fall down from spiritual life".

We have purports like this all over Srila Prabhupada's books, teaching that devotees should be renounced, pure, have very good sadhana, be very active in service, and so on. He showed us the way, how to become pure devotees, but it’s not that everyone will be able to immediately follow this path. We have all types of persons joining ISKCON nowadays. Many of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples narrate that when Srila Prabhupada was present, he was pushing everybody with his personal energy, and because of this, all devotees would be empowered to do big feats. Nowadays it may be a little more difficult because this push is not there, but on the other hand, we have so many persons joining, ISKCON is becoming very big. In Srila Prabhupada's times there were a few thousand ISKCON devotees, nowadays we probably already have more than a million, and we should grow much more. For that, we should be able to accommodate persons who are not exactly pure devotees, but have some sincerity and can agree to follow and serve to some degree. 

We must find this balance, how to be strict with ourselves, but accommodating with others, how to help everyone who comes in contact with us to get closer to Krsna, without lowering our own personal standards. Srila Prabhupada was doing like that. In the beginning, he had a few youths living with him in the first storefront; some of them would sleep there, hear the class, take prasadam and then go out to eat in cafeterias, to meet their girlfriends or some other nonsense, but Srila Prabhupada was not rejecting them, he was engaging everyone. And eventually many of them became sannyasis, gurus, and leaders. We need to learn from him.

This is an excerpt of the book "Getting the Mercy", about book distribution. You can download the book or read more on:
https://www.gettingthemercy.com

Read more…

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krsna discusses many different subjects. He starts with sankhya-yoga, the empirical knowledge that “I'm not this body”, the difference between spirit and matter. He also explains about Himself, God, and how we can get closer to Him while executing our prescribed duties. That's karma-yoga: mainly the third, fourth and fifth chapters. Karma-yoga means to remain in our material occupations and fulfill our duties, but to offer the fruits of our activities to Krsna. In one sense that's a preliminary process, but it is very important. It gives us a simple process from where to start.

For example, we have to eat. We hear that we should eat only prasadam, and strictly speaking, prasadam is when you cook for the deity, for the pleasure of the Lord, with elevated standards. At the same time, we can't eat only in the temple, we also need to eat at home. So, what should we do? If one still doesn’t have this mentality of cooking solely for the pleasure of the Lord, then he can cook what he wants to cook, following the proper standards, but before eating, offer to the Lord. In other words, even if one is not yet on a pure platform, at least he can offer the fruits to the Lord, following the guidance of superior authorities. That's one example of karma yoga: It may not be pure devotion yet, but it's a good start.

Karma-yoga is already done without expectation: one just offers the fruits to the Lord, without expecting any material recompense in return. In contrast with demigod worship, that is normally conducted as a kind of business, in karma-yoga we are already on the level of just wanting to please Krsna. That's why Srila Prabhupada doesn't make much distinction between karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga in his purports, translating both as "devotional service". In one sense there is no difference: they are just different steps in the same stairway.

But there is a subtle difference between karma-yoga and, in the strict sense, pure bhakti-yoga, pure devotional service. In karma-yoga we are still attached to engage in particular activities, so we keep executing our duties, but the fruits are dedicated to Krsna. Pure bhakti-yoga is a little bit different: we don't do what we want to do, we do what Krsna wants us to do. This demands a higher level of surrender: from the beginning to the end, it's for the satisfaction of the Lord, without any other consideration.

We can understand this from the example of Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra. If Arjuna would fight to get the kingdom, riches, and power, because he wanted to win the fight, and then, in the end, he would dedicate the fruits to Krsna, constructing temples, doing sacrifices, etc. that would be karma-yoga. But we see that right from the beginning Arjuna didn't want to fight: he would prefer to go to the forest or to live as a beggar. Yet, after hearing the Bhagavad-Gita, he fought with all his ability, not because he wanted, but because that was Krsna’s desire. Krsna told him: I want you to fight, not because you want to win the kingdom, but for Me, that's what is going to please Me.

That's the subtle difference between karma yoga and bhakti yoga. Bhakti-yoga is higher, but it's hard. We should be detached, but at the same time we also need maturity, because without maturity it becomes imitation: "I want to be a pure devotee, I want to be important, let me just abandon everything and surrender!". If someone tries to renounce with this mentality, out of frustration, or desire for fame and recognition, while still attached, he may do it for a few months, or maybe even for a year or two, but eventually he will just give up. This kind of imitation is not very valuable. In fact, that is precisely what Krsna tells Arjuna not to do.

Maturity means that we are doing something for the right reasons and, at the same time, we are sure about what we are doing. That's why Krsna says “mam ekam saranam vraja” (just surrender unto Me) in the end of Bhagavad-gita, not in the beginning. First, we need to understand the whole Bhagavad-gita and practice it, starting from "I'm not the body", then karma-yoga, then everything else, up to the point that we become detached and mature enough to be able to fully surrender to Krsna.

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66)

However, sarva-dharman parityajya is not exactly the conclusion of the Bhagavad-Gita. There is something that comes after that. The ultimate conclusion of the Bhagavad-Gita comes two verses later:

For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear. (Bg. 18.68-69)

That's the last instruction that Krsna gives in the Bhagavad-Gita. If you have someone very important to you, like your spiritual master, his last words are going to have special importance. Probably, you are going to align everything else that you received from him in the light of these last words. The last instruction that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave to Srila Prabhupada (in a letter, a few days before he passed away) was to preach in English, and we can see how deeply Srila Prabhupada took it. Sankaracarya was preaching impersonal philosophy, but his last words to his disciples were “bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam, mudha mate”: "You fools, you should worship Govinda!".

Similarly, these last words of Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita are even more confidential than sarva-dharman parityajya. Actually, they are a kind of purport. The Lord says: "Surrender unto Me", and one could ask: "What should be my occupation after I abandon my dharma and surrender to You?”. The Lord explains: "You should explain this supreme secret to others". And then He reassures: "By doing that, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and in the end you will come back to Me". As Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport to SB 8.7.44:

“The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (18.68–69), ya idam paramam guhyam mad-bhaktesv abhidhasyati … na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: “One who preaches the message of Bhagavad-gita to My devotees is most dear to Me. No one can excel him in satisfying Me by worship.” There are different kinds of welfare activities in this material world, but the supreme welfare activity is the spreading of Krsna consciousness.”

Someone may argue: "But He says to explain it to devotees. Why we are going to distribute books outside?". In a sense, everybody is a devotee. Who is not a spirit soul? And where does the spirit soul come from? To whom is the spirit soul eternally connected? So, in the ultimate sense everybody is a devotee, everyone is connected to Krsna. That's the normal condition of the soul. The problem is that some of the souls have forgotten this, and thus they are accepting so many false designations, forms, desires and activities under the spell of illusion. That's the problem that we have to solve.

“Prahlada Maharaja ultimately instructed his class friends, the sons of the demons, to accept the process of devotional service by preaching the science of Krsna consciousness to everyone. Preaching is the best service to the Lord. The Lord will immediately be extremely satisfied with one who engages in this service of preaching Krsna consciousness. This is confirmed by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gita (18.69). Na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: “There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” If one sincerely tries his best to spread Krsna consciousness by preaching the glories of the Lord and His supremacy, even if he is imperfectly educated, he becomes the dearmost servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is bhakti. As one performs this service for humanity, without discrimination between friends and enemies, the Lord becomes satisfied, and the mission of one’s life is fulfilled. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore advised everyone to become a guru-devotee and preach Krsna consciousness (yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa). That is the easiest way to realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By such preaching, the preacher becomes satisfied, and those to whom he preaches are also satisfied. This is the process of bringing peace and tranquillity to the entire world.” (SB 7.6.24 purport)

To preach and distribute books is the ultimate instruction of the Bhagavad-Gita, it's no wonder that Srila Prabhupada stresses this point so much. As Krsna’s pure devotee, he is concerned about our ultimate welfare, he wants us to preach and become dear to Krsna, so we can join him in the spiritual world. Nowadays we may sometimes forget that Srila Prabhupada has organized the whole ISKCON society as a preaching machine that works with the sole goal of bringing souls back to Godhead, and that’s not just for the benefit of others, but for our own benefit.

HH Tamal Krsna Maharaja: "Previously, only a few fortunate persons who visited the temple had the opportunity to meet the devotees, but now, through sankirtana, tens of thousands of persons felt the soothing rain of Lord Caitanya's mercy. This was all due to the mercy of our spiritual master. By his strong desire and personal example he was inspiring us to assume the role of preachers. Though we might not ourselves feel compassion to relieve the suffering of the conditioned souls, Prabhupada did. It was only by his order that we were now empowered to go forth and offer Krsna's mercy to others. By encouraging us to deliver Krsna consciousness to the conditioned souls, Prabhupada was allowing us to share in the most confidential service of the Lord. We had no understanding of Krsna's desire, but by following Prabhupada's instructions we became the recipients of Lord Caitanya's blessings, and as a result, our hearts became softened, purified by the sankirtana-yajna." (Servant of the Servant, Ch. 2) 

This is an excerpt of the book "Getting the Mercy", about book distribution. You can download the book or read more on:
https://www.gettingthemercy.com

 

 
Read more…

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krsna discusses many different subjects. He starts with sankhya-yoga, the empirical knowledge that “I'm not this body”, the difference between spirit and matter. He also explains about Himself, God, and how we can get closer to Him while executing our prescribed duties. That's karma-yoga: mainly the third, fourth and fifth chapters. Karma-yoga means to remain in our material occupations and fulfill our duties, but to offer the fruits of our activities to Krsna. In one sense that's a preliminary process, but it is very important. It gives us a simple process from where to start.

For example, we have to eat. We hear that we should eat only prasadam, and strictly speaking, prasadam is when you cook for the deity, for the pleasure of the Lord, with elevated standards. At the same time, we can't eat only in the temple, we also need to eat at home. So, what should we do? If one still doesn’t have this mentality of cooking solely for the pleasure of the Lord, then he can cook what he wants to cook, following the proper standards, but before eating, offer to the Lord. In other words, even if one is not yet on a pure platform, at least he can offer the fruits to the Lord, following the guidance of superior authorities. That's one example of karma yoga: It may not be pure devotion yet, but it's a good start.

Karma-yoga is already done without expectation: one just offers the fruits to the Lord, without expecting any material recompense in return. In contrast with demigod worship, that is normally conducted as a kind of business, in karma-yoga we are already on the level of just wanting to please Krsna. That's why Srila Prabhupada doesn't make much distinction between karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga in his purports, translating both as "devotional service". In one sense there is no difference: they are just different steps in the same stairway.

But there is a subtle difference between karma-yoga and, in the strict sense, pure bhakti-yoga, pure devotional service. In karma-yoga we are still attached to engage in particular activities, so we keep executing our duties, but the fruits are dedicated to Krsna. Pure bhakti-yoga is a little bit different: we don't do what we want to do, we do what Krsna wants us to do. This demands a higher level of surrender: from the beginning to the end, it's for the satisfaction of the Lord, without any other consideration.

We can understand this from the example of Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra. If Arjuna would fight to get the kingdom, riches, and power, because he wanted to win the fight, and then, in the end, he would dedicate the fruits to Krsna, constructing temples, doing sacrifices, etc. that would be karma-yoga. But we see that right from the beginning Arjuna didn't want to fight: he would prefer to go to the forest or to live as a beggar. Yet, after hearing the Bhagavad-Gita, he fought with all his ability, not because he wanted, but because that was Krsna’s desire. Krsna told him: I want you to fight, not because you want to win the kingdom, but for Me, that's what is going to please Me.

That's the subtle difference between karma yoga and bhakti yoga. Bhakti-yoga is higher, but it's hard. We should be detached, but at the same time we also need maturity, because without maturity it becomes imitation: "I want to be a pure devotee, I want to be important, let me just abandon everything and surrender!". If someone tries to renounce with this mentality, out of frustration, or desire for fame and recognition, while still attached, he may do it for a few months, or maybe even for a year or two, but eventually he will just give up. This kind of imitation is not very valuable. In fact, that is precisely what Krsna tells Arjuna not to do.

Maturity means that we are doing something for the right reasons and, at the same time, we are sure about what we are doing. That's why Krsna says “mam ekam saranam vraja” (just surrender unto Me) in the end of Bhagavad-gita, not in the beginning. First, we need to understand the whole Bhagavad-gita and practice it, starting from "I'm not the body", then karma-yoga, then everything else, up to the point that we become detached and mature enough to be able to fully surrender to Krsna.

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66)

However, sarva-dharman parityajya is not exactly the conclusion of the Bhagavad-Gita. There is something that comes after that. The ultimate conclusion of the Bhagavad-Gita comes two verses later:

For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear. (Bg. 18.68-69)

That's the last instruction that Krsna gives in the Bhagavad-Gita. If you have someone very important to you, like your spiritual master, his last words are going to have special importance. Probably, you are going to align everything else that you received from him in the light of these last words. The last instruction that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave to Srila Prabhupada (in a letter, a few days before he passed away) was to preach in English, and we can see how deeply Srila Prabhupada took it. Sankaracarya was preaching impersonal philosophy, but his last words to his disciples were “bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam, mudha mate”: "You fools, you should worship Govinda!".

Similarly, these last words of Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita are even more confidential than sarva-dharman parityajya. Actually, they are a kind of purport. The Lord says: "Surrender unto Me", and one could ask: "What should be my occupation after I abandon my dharma and surrender to You?”. The Lord explains: "You should explain this supreme secret to others". And then He reassures: "By doing that, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and in the end you will come back to Me". As Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport to SB 8.7.44:

“The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (18.68–69), ya idam paramam guhyam mad-bhaktesv abhidhasyati … na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: “One who preaches the message of Bhagavad-gita to My devotees is most dear to Me. No one can excel him in satisfying Me by worship.” There are different kinds of welfare activities in this material world, but the supreme welfare activity is the spreading of Krsna consciousness.”

Someone may argue: "But He says to explain it to devotees. Why we are going to distribute books outside?". In a sense, everybody is a devotee. Who is not a spirit soul? And where does the spirit soul come from? To whom is the spirit soul eternally connected? So, in the ultimate sense everybody is a devotee, everyone is connected to Krsna. That's the normal condition of the soul. The problem is that some of the souls have forgotten this, and thus they are accepting so many false designations, forms, desires and activities under the spell of illusion. That's the problem that we have to solve.

“Prahlada Maharaja ultimately instructed his class friends, the sons of the demons, to accept the process of devotional service by preaching the science of Krsna consciousness to everyone. Preaching is the best service to the Lord. The Lord will immediately be extremely satisfied with one who engages in this service of preaching Krsna consciousness. This is confirmed by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gita (18.69). Na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: “There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” If one sincerely tries his best to spread Krsna consciousness by preaching the glories of the Lord and His supremacy, even if he is imperfectly educated, he becomes the dearmost servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is bhakti. As one performs this service for humanity, without discrimination between friends and enemies, the Lord becomes satisfied, and the mission of one’s life is fulfilled. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore advised everyone to become a guru-devotee and preach Krsna consciousness (yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa). That is the easiest way to realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By such preaching, the preacher becomes satisfied, and those to whom he preaches are also satisfied. This is the process of bringing peace and tranquillity to the entire world.” (SB 7.6.24 purport)

To preach and distribute books is the ultimate instruction of the Bhagavad-Gita, it's no wonder that Srila Prabhupada stresses this point so much. As Krsna’s pure devotee, he is concerned about our ultimate welfare, he wants us to preach and become dear to Krsna, so we can join him in the spiritual world. Nowadays we may sometimes forget that Srila Prabhupada has organized the whole ISKCON society as a preaching machine that works with the sole goal of bringing souls back to Godhead, and that’s not just for the benefit of others, but for our own benefit.

HH Tamal Krsna Maharaja: "Previously, only a few fortunate persons who visited the temple had the opportunity to meet the devotees, but now, through sankirtana, tens of thousands of persons felt the soothing rain of Lord Caitanya's mercy. This was all due to the mercy of our spiritual master. By his strong desire and personal example he was inspiring us to assume the role of preachers. Though we might not ourselves feel compassion to relieve the suffering of the conditioned souls, Prabhupada did. It was only by his order that we were now empowered to go forth and offer Krsna's mercy to others. By encouraging us to deliver Krsna consciousness to the conditioned souls, Prabhupada was allowing us to share in the most confidential service of the Lord. We had no understanding of Krsna's desire, but by following Prabhupada's instructions we became the recipients of Lord Caitanya's blessings, and as a result, our hearts became softened, purified by the sankirtana-yajna." (Servant of the Servant, Ch. 2) 

This is an excerpt of the book "Getting the Mercy", about book distribution. You can download the book or read more on:
https://www.gettingthemercy.com

 

 
Read more…

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krsna discusses many different subjects. He starts with sankhya-yoga, the empirical knowledge that “I'm not this body”, the difference between spirit and matter. He also explains about Himself, God, and how we can get closer to Him while executing our prescribed duties. That's karma-yoga: mainly the third, fourth and fifth chapters. Karma-yoga means to remain in our material occupations and fulfill our duties, but to offer the fruits of our activities to Krsna. In one sense that's a preliminary process, but it is very important. It gives us a simple process from where to start.

For example, we have to eat. We hear that we should eat only prasadam, and strictly speaking, prasadam is when you cook for the deity, for the pleasure of the Lord, with elevated standards. At the same time, we can't eat only in the temple, we also need to eat at home. So, what should we do? If one still doesn’t have this mentality of cooking solely for the pleasure of the Lord, then he can cook what he wants to cook, following the proper standards, but before eating, offer to the Lord. In other words, even if one is not yet on a pure platform, at least he can offer the fruits to the Lord, following the guidance of superior authorities. That's one example of karma yoga: It may not be pure devotion yet, but it's a good start.

Karma-yoga is already done without expectation: one just offers the fruits to the Lord, without expecting any material recompense in return. In contrast with demigod worship, that is normally conducted as a kind of business, in karma-yoga we are already on the level of just wanting to please Krsna. That's why Srila Prabhupada doesn't make much distinction between karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga in his purports, translating both as "devotional service". In one sense there is no difference: they are just different steps in the same stairway.

But there is a subtle difference between karma-yoga and, in the strict sense, pure bhakti-yoga, pure devotional service. In karma-yoga we are still attached to engage in particular activities, so we keep executing our duties, but the fruits are dedicated to Krsna. Pure bhakti-yoga is a little bit different: we don't do what we want to do, we do what Krsna wants us to do. This demands a higher level of surrender: from the beginning to the end, it's for the satisfaction of the Lord, without any other consideration.

We can understand this from the example of Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra. If Arjuna would fight to get the kingdom, riches, and power, because he wanted to win the fight, and then, in the end, he would dedicate the fruits to Krsna, constructing temples, doing sacrifices, etc. that would be karma-yoga. But we see that right from the beginning Arjuna didn't want to fight: he would prefer to go to the forest or to live as a beggar. Yet, after hearing the Bhagavad-Gita, he fought with all his ability, not because he wanted, but because that was Krsna’s desire. Krsna told him: I want you to fight, not because you want to win the kingdom, but for Me, that's what is going to please Me.

That's the subtle difference between karma yoga and bhakti yoga. Bhakti-yoga is higher, but it's hard. We should be detached, but at the same time we also need maturity, because without maturity it becomes imitation: "I want to be a pure devotee, I want to be important, let me just abandon everything and surrender!". If someone tries to renounce with this mentality, out of frustration, or desire for fame and recognition, while still attached, he may do it for a few months, or maybe even for a year or two, but eventually he will just give up. This kind of imitation is not very valuable. In fact, that is precisely what Krsna tells Arjuna not to do.

Maturity means that we are doing something for the right reasons and, at the same time, we are sure about what we are doing. That's why Krsna says “mam ekam saranam vraja” (just surrender unto Me) in the end of Bhagavad-gita, not in the beginning. First, we need to understand the whole Bhagavad-gita and practice it, starting from "I'm not the body", then karma-yoga, then everything else, up to the point that we become detached and mature enough to be able to fully surrender to Krsna.

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66)

However, sarva-dharman parityajya is not exactly the conclusion of the Bhagavad-Gita. There is something that comes after that. The ultimate conclusion of the Bhagavad-Gita comes two verses later:

For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear. (Bg. 18.68-69)

That's the last instruction that Krsna gives in the Bhagavad-Gita. If you have someone very important to you, like your spiritual master, his last words are going to have special importance. Probably, you are going to align everything else that you received from him in the light of these last words. The last instruction that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave to Srila Prabhupada (in a letter, a few days before he passed away) was to preach in English, and we can see how deeply Srila Prabhupada took it. Sankaracarya was preaching impersonal philosophy, but his last words to his disciples were “bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam, mudha mate”: "You fools, you should worship Govinda!".

Similarly, these last words of Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita are even more confidential than sarva-dharman parityajya. Actually, they are a kind of purport. The Lord says: "Surrender unto Me", and one could ask: "What should be my occupation after I abandon my dharma and surrender to You?”. The Lord explains: "You should explain this supreme secret to others". And then He reassures: "By doing that, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and in the end you will come back to Me". As Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport to SB 8.7.44:

“The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (18.68–69), ya idam paramam guhyam mad-bhaktesv abhidhasyati … na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: “One who preaches the message of Bhagavad-gita to My devotees is most dear to Me. No one can excel him in satisfying Me by worship.” There are different kinds of welfare activities in this material world, but the supreme welfare activity is the spreading of Krsna consciousness.”

Someone may argue: "But He says to explain it to devotees. Why we are going to distribute books outside?". In a sense, everybody is a devotee. Who is not a spirit soul? And where does the spirit soul come from? To whom is the spirit soul eternally connected? So, in the ultimate sense everybody is a devotee, everyone is connected to Krsna. That's the normal condition of the soul. The problem is that some of the souls have forgotten this, and thus they are accepting so many false designations, forms, desires and activities under the spell of illusion. That's the problem that we have to solve.

“Prahlada Maharaja ultimately instructed his class friends, the sons of the demons, to accept the process of devotional service by preaching the science of Krsna consciousness to everyone. Preaching is the best service to the Lord. The Lord will immediately be extremely satisfied with one who engages in this service of preaching Krsna consciousness. This is confirmed by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gita (18.69). Na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: “There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” If one sincerely tries his best to spread Krsna consciousness by preaching the glories of the Lord and His supremacy, even if he is imperfectly educated, he becomes the dearmost servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is bhakti. As one performs this service for humanity, without discrimination between friends and enemies, the Lord becomes satisfied, and the mission of one’s life is fulfilled. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore advised everyone to become a guru-devotee and preach Krsna consciousness (yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa). That is the easiest way to realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By such preaching, the preacher becomes satisfied, and those to whom he preaches are also satisfied. This is the process of bringing peace and tranquillity to the entire world.” (SB 7.6.24 purport)

To preach and distribute books is the ultimate instruction of the Bhagavad-Gita, it's no wonder that Srila Prabhupada stresses this point so much. As Krsna’s pure devotee, he is concerned about our ultimate welfare, he wants us to preach and become dear to Krsna, so we can join him in the spiritual world. Nowadays we may sometimes forget that Srila Prabhupada has organized the whole ISKCON society as a preaching machine that works with the sole goal of bringing souls back to Godhead, and that’s not just for the benefit of others, but for our own benefit.

HH Tamal Krsna Maharaja: "Previously, only a few fortunate persons who visited the temple had the opportunity to meet the devotees, but now, through sankirtana, tens of thousands of persons felt the soothing rain of Lord Caitanya's mercy. This was all due to the mercy of our spiritual master. By his strong desire and personal example he was inspiring us to assume the role of preachers. Though we might not ourselves feel compassion to relieve the suffering of the conditioned souls, Prabhupada did. It was only by his order that we were now empowered to go forth and offer Krsna's mercy to others. By encouraging us to deliver Krsna consciousness to the conditioned souls, Prabhupada was allowing us to share in the most confidential service of the Lord. We had no understanding of Krsna's desire, but by following Prabhupada's instructions we became the recipients of Lord Caitanya's blessings, and as a result, our hearts became softened, purified by the sankirtana-yajna." (Servant of the Servant, Ch. 2)

This is an excerpt of the book "Getting the Mercy", about book distribution. You can download the book or read more on:
https://www.gettingthemercy.com

 

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Lord Caitanya thought, “My name is Visvambhara, ‘one who maintains the entire universe.’ Its meaning will be actualized if I can fill the whole universe with love of Godhead.” Thinking in this way, He accepted the duty of a planter and began to grow a garden in Navadvipa. Thus the Lord brought the desire tree of devotional service to this earth and became its gardener. He sowed the seed and sprinkled upon it the water of His will. (Cc. Adi 9.7-9)

Lord Caitanya thus addressed the multifarious varieties of branches and subbranches of the tree of devotional service: "Since the tree of devotional service is transcendental, every one of its parts can perform the action of all the others. Although a tree is supposed to be immovable, this tree nevertheless moves. All the parts of this tree are spiritually cognizant, and thus as they grow they spread all over the world". (Cc. Adi 9.31-33)

In the Sri Caitanya Caritamrta (Adi-lila, chapter 9), it is described how the sankirtana movement descended from the spiritual realm. When manifested in this world, the sankirtana movement grows like a tree which emanates from Lord Caitanya personally. This tree has many branches connected to the main associates of the Lord, and from them grow various sub-branches that correspond to the main acaryas of our sampradaya. One of the biggest of such branches relates to Srila Prabhupada who created ISKCON and connected all of us in the form of numerous twigs and leaves.

There are four famous verses in the Caitanya Mangala (Sutra-khanda, song 12, verses 562-565) where Lord Caitanya says:

nama-guna-sankirtana vaisnavera shakti
prakasa karibe ami nija prema-bhakti

ei mate kali-papa karibe sanhara
sabe cala age pache na kara vichara

Chanting of the name and qualities of Krsna gives the energy to the Vaishnavas. I will reveal these activities, a pure devotional service unto Myself. In this way I will destroy all the sins in Kali Yuga. So all of you, My associates, go ahead and take birth on the earthly planet before My advent and don't remain behind.

ebe nama sankirtana tikshna khadga laiya
antara asura jivera phelibe katiya

yadi papi chadi dharma dure dese yaya
mora senapati-bhakta yaibe tathaya

Taking the sharp sword of nama-sankirtana, I will root out and destroy the demoniac mentality in the hearts of all the conditioned souls. And if some sinful people escape and giving up dharma go to far off countries, my Senapati Bhakta will go there to deliver them.

The expression “Senapati Bhakta” refers to a highly exalted devotee and preacher. Senapati is a military expression which means “commander-in-chief”. From recent history, we can understand that the chief commander is Srila Prabhupada. Not only did he start the western front of Sri Caitanya's movement, but he also brought it back to India, reestablishing the eternal principles of devotional service amongst the Indians themselves.

In the Caitanya-Caritamrta (Madhya 7.128) the Lord gives us another very famous verse:

yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa
amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa

Yare dekha, tare kaha means: "Wherever you go and whoever you meet", krsna’-upadesa: “Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krsna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam”. And then: amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa: “By my order become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land.”

There are different types of spiritual masters. The initiating spiritual master should be a liberated soul, a very elevated devotee that has not only firm faith and knowledge, but also realization, and is therefore capable of elevating his disciples up to the ultimate goal. As Srila Prabhupada teaches us in the Nectar of Instruction (purport to verse 5):

“A neophyte Vaisnava or a Vaisnava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master”.

The second type is the instructing spiritual master, who should also be a liberated soul, capable of further instructing one how to develop his relationship with Krsna. Both the initiating and instructing spiritual masters should be very elevated Vaishnavas. As Srila Prabhupada points out in the previous quote, a neophyte devotee may eventually assume these roles when other, more advanced Vaishnavas are not available, but this is not an ideal situation.

Finally, there is the connecting guru, who introduces one to Krsna consciousness. By giving a book or prasadam, inspiring him to start chanting and coming to the temple, or whatever it may be: the one who introduces a new person to Krsna consciousness. He is called vartma pradarsaka guru: the guru that makes the initial connection. Even if someone is not a very advanced devotee, still he knows something, and by repeating whatever he knows, he can connect others to Krsna.

HG Yasodanandana Prabhu: Prabhupada's room at the Radha-Damodar temple, you can see behind, there were these little holes that let the wind come through and you can actually see behind in the courtyard. So Shyamasundara's daughter, Saraswati, was there, and she was pulling on the shirt of a little Bengali gentleman and she was telling the gentleman, "Who is Krsna? Do you know who is Krsna?" And the gentleman had this amused look on his face. Saraswati may have been 4 or 5 years old at the time, she was very young. Prabhupada was looking and we were looking, and the man was amused that this little girl would ask him that. Then she told him, "Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and you should surrender to Him." And Prabhupada said, "Just see, she is a guru. She is preaching about Krsna." (Following Srila Prabhupada - A Chronological Series)

This system is so perfect that if one of the gurus (be the connecting guru, instructing guru, diksa guru, or even the father or mother), can somehow direct his dependents to the right path, putting them on the way back to Godhead, he can also go by sharing the merits of the disciple or son/daughter, even if he himself is imperfect. The prime example is Dhruva Maharaja. His mother, Suniti, acted as his vartma pradarsaka guru by instructing him to go to the forest and worship Krsna. In due course of time, Dhruva Maharaja became a perfect devotee and went back home back to Godhead, taking his mother with him. As Srila Prabhupada humbly points out in his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 4.12.33, if we can help a single soul to become perfect in Krsna consciousness, then, despite our imperfections, we can also go back to Godhead:

“This incident proves that the siksa- or diksa-guru who has a disciple who strongly executes devotional service like Dhruva Maharaja can be carried by the disciple even though the instructor is not as advanced. Although Suniti was an instructor to Dhruva Maharaja, she could not go to the forest because she was a woman, nor could she execute austerities and penances as Dhruva Maharaja did. Still, Dhruva Maharaja was able to take his mother with him. Similarly, Prahlada Maharaja also delivered his atheistic father, Hiranyakasipu. The conclusion is that a disciple or an offspring who is a very strong devotee can carry with him to Vaikunthaloka either his father, mother or siksa- or diksa-guru. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used to say, “If I could perfectly deliver even one soul back home, back to Godhead, I would think my mission — propagating Krsna consciousness — to be successful.” The Krsna consciousness movement is spreading now all over the world, and sometimes I think that even though I am crippled in many ways, if one of my disciples becomes as strong as Dhruva Maharaja, then he will be able to carry me with him to Vaikunthaloka”.

Despite being a liberated soul, Srila Prabhupada wrote in such a way just to give us the example as to what our mentality should be. Instead of pursuing our own liberation, we should try to help others to become Krsna conscious.

Whatever our situation is, we can serve the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu by spreading Krsna consciousness to others; and the main tools to spread the sankirtana mission are the books. There is a reason for that: in the past, people used to be more simple and open-minded. If you would come to their village chanting, they would immediately get curious and ask about it. After hearing the explanation that these are the names of God and so on, they would immediately join. Because they were simple-hearted, they would start to chant, and immediately the chanting would have effect: they would become devotees. After that, you could give them some simple instructions and they would follow. This still happens in some villages in India, but in most places nowadays, people are crooked and complicated. You go on chanting but they can't simply accept and also chant. They come with many misconceptions and prejudices: Is this paganism? Is this Hinduism? They want to understand, analyze, therefore it's difficult to convince these types of “sophisticated” people with the chanting alone. You would need to spend a long time with each person to get some result.

Therefore, we have spiritual books, which are an efficient way to affect modern people. If we can just convince them to read our books, they’ll find all the answers there. If a person is a little pious, by the time he finishes the book, he’ll be willing to chant and join. If not, we can give them another book, some prasadam, another book, more prasadam, etc. until they get convinced. This way, on each encounter a person receives something, becoming more purified, up to the point he is ready to become a devotee.

“Persons who had formerly criticized Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, calling Him a drunkard, also ate the fruit and began to dance, saying, “Very good! Very good!”

Purport: When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu started the sankirtana movement, even He was unnecessarily criticized by Mayavadis, atheists and fools. Naturally we are also criticized by such men. They will always remain and will always criticize anything that is actually good for human society. But the preachers of the sankirtana movement should not be deterred by such criticism. Our method should be to convert such fools gradually by asking them to come and take prasadam and chant and dance with us. This should be our policy. Anyone who comes to join us, of course, must be sincere and serious regarding spiritual advancement in life; then such a person, simply by joining us, chanting with us, dancing with us and taking prasadam with us, will gradually also come to say that this movement is very good. But one who joins with an ulterior purpose, to get material benefit or personal gratification, will never be able to grasp the philosophy of this movement. (Cc. Adi 9.53)

Even if someone doesn't become a devotee in this life, our books will have some effect on his life -- they will make him rethink and change a few things. Nowadays, so many people are becoming vegetarians, starting to believe in karma and reincarnation, protesting against animal slaughter, desiring a less materialistic lifestyle, etc. We can be sure that the mass distribution of Srila Prabhupada's books in the last five decades is the main factor behind these changes in society. And the more we distribute, the more the world will change.

“The sankirtana movement has been introduced by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu just to dispel the illusion of maya, by which everyone in this material world thinks himself to be a product of matter and therefore to have many duties pertaining to the body. Actually, the living entity is not his material body: he is a spirit soul. He has a spiritual need to be eternally blissful and full of knowledge, but unfortunately he identifies himself with the body, sometimes as a human being, sometimes as an animal, sometimes a tree, sometimes an aquatic, sometimes a demigod, and so on. Thus with each change of body he develops a different type of consciousness with different types of activities and thus becomes increasingly entangled in material existence, transmigrating perpetually from one body to another. Under the spell of maya, or illusion, he does not consider the past or future but is simply satisfied with the short life span that he has gotten for the present. To eradicate this illusion, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has brought the sankirtana movement, and He requests everyone to accept and distribute it”. (Cc. Adi 9.36)

This is an excerpt of the book "Getting the Mercy", about book distribution. You can download the book or read more on:
https://www.gettingthemercy.com

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Srila Prabhupada once said that history will mark how ISKCON saved the world in its darkest hour. As the world society becomes more and more degraded, our mission to step forward and bring some light in the form of spiritual books becomes more and more urgent and necessary. This book is my small attempt in this direction. The main factor in deciding about publishing this book as a free e-book instead of hard copy is to allow all interested devotees to have easy access to it and to share with…
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