martes, 22 de junio de 2010

Ramananda Raya’s Disappearance Day - Giriraj Swami

Râmânanda Râya’s Disappearance Day, part one

Râmânanda Râya’s Disappearance Day, part one

A Lecture by Giriraj Swami

May 25, 2008


Today is an auspicious day in Krsna consciousness. Of course, every day is auspicious in Krsna consciousness. When we first arrived in India, in Bombay, Ärîla Prabhupâda was invited to a program on the lawn of an aristocratic gentleman’s house. Most of us went ahead, and Ärîla Prabhupâda followed with a few disciples. When we arrived, ours hosts told us, “It is very auspicious that you have come today, because today is a holy day.” We had never heard of the holy day and were somewhat doubtful, so when Ärîla Prabhupâda arrived I asked him, “Is it true that today is a holy day?” And Ärîla Prabhupâda replied, “For us every day is a holy day; we are Kèëòa’s servants.”

But today is a special holy day because it is the disappearance day of one of Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s most confidential associates, Ärî Râmânanda Râya. Lord Caitanya is Krsna Himself in the mood of Ärîmati Radharani, with Her bodily luster. Thus Lord Caitanya is the combined form of Radha and Krsna (sri-krsna-caitanya radha-krsna nahe anya). And in krsna-lila Râmânanda Râya is the gopi Visakha, one of the most confidential associates of both Ärîmati Radharani and Krsna. Spiritually, Visakha enjoyed a very intimate relationship with both Ärî Krsna and Ärî Radha.

In His later years, after He toured South India, Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu retired to Jagannatha Puri, and He experienced intense separation from Krsna, just like Ärîmati Radharani did after Krsna left Vrndavana. In that ecstatic mood of separation, He would confide in two very close associates–Ärî Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, who in krsna-lila is the gopi Lalita, and Ärî Râmânanda Râya.

Today we shall read about the first meeting between Lord Caitanya and Râmânanda Râya. Lord Caitanya was just beginning His tour of South India. When He arrived in Jagannatha Puri from Navadvipa after taking sannyasa, He went straight to the Jagannatha temple, and as soon as He saw Lord Jagannatha He fainted in ecstasy. He had been in the mood of searching for Krsna, and when He saw Jagannatha He felt that He had found His Lord, for whom He was searching, and fell into a deep ecstatic trance. Eventually, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, the chief appointed pandita in the court of the king, Maharaja Prataparudra, removed Ärî Caitanya to his home, and there they had some discussions. When Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu was about to depart on His tour of South India, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya suggested that He meet and speak with Râmânanda Râya, a most learned scholar and expert in the transcendental mellows of devotional service (bhakti-rasa).

Eventually Lord Caitanya and Ramananada Raya met on the banks of the Godavari. Their meeting is vividly described in Ärî Caitanya-caritamrta. After their initial meeting they decided to meet again in the evening to discuss confidential topics of Krsna. Their discussions, called ramananda-samvada, contain all the truths of Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy (siddhanta) and, with Lord Caitanya’s instructions to Rupa Gosvami (rupa-siksa) and His instructions to Sanatana Gosvami (sanatana-siksa), are most important for understanding Vaisnava siddhanta, both rasa and tattva.

We shall read from Ärî Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Eight:

Talks Between the Lord and Râmânanda Râya.”


sancarya ramabhidha-bhakta-meghe


gaurabdhir etair amuna vitirnais

taj-jnatva-ratnalayatam prayati


Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is known as Gauranga, is the reservoir of all conclusive knowledge in devotional service. He empowered Ärî Râmânanda Râya, who may be likened to a cloud of devotional service. This cloud was filled with all the conclusive purports of devotional service and was empowered by the ocean to spread this water over the sea. Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself was the ocean of knowledge of pure devotional service.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

In this discussion between Râmânanda Râya and Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Lord Caitanya took the position of the student, or questioner, and Râmânanda Râya was obliged to take the position of the teacher, or respondent. Ramananda Raya was hesitant, because apart from Caitanya Mahaprabhu being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in terms of the Vedic social system He was a brahmana and a sannyasi, whereas Râmânanda Râya, although a most learned scholar and exalted devotee, was a grhastha and was considered a sudra. So it was awkward for him to instruct Caitanya Mahaprabhu, but Mahaprabhu told him, kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya: it doesn’t matter whether one is a brahmana, a sudra, a sannyasi, or whatever; yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya: anyone who knows the science of Krsna is a guru.

We shall read from the beginning of their discussion.


namaskara kaila raya, prabhu kaila alingane

dui jane krsna-katha kaya rahah-sthane


Râmânanda Râya approached Lord Ärî Caitanya and offered his respectful obeisances, and the Lord embraced him.

Then they began to discuss Krsna in a secluded place.


prabhu kahe,–”pada sloka sadhyera nirnaya”

raya kahe,–”sva-dharmacarane visnu-bhakti haya”


Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Râmânanda Râya to recite a verse from the revealed scriptures concerning the ultimate goal of life.

Ramananda replied, “If one executes the prescribed duties of his social position, he awakens his original Krsna consciousness.


The original word in the text is sadhya–”the goal of life,” “that which is to be achieved.” Sadhana is the means by which we achieve the goal. Lord Caitanya asked Râmânanda Râya to say something about sadhya, the ultimate goal of life, and Râmânanda Râya replied by citing different verses.

First, Râmânanda Râya quoted a verse from the Visnu Purana:



purusena parah puman

visnur aradhyate pantha

nanyat tat-tosa-karanam


“‘The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Visnu, is worshiped by the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varna and asrama. There is no other way to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One must be situated in the institution of the four varnas and asramas.’”

PURPORT by Ärîla Prabhupâda

This is a quotation from the Visnu Purana (3.8.9). As stated by Ärîla Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya, “The purport is that one can realize life’s perfection simply by satisfying the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” This is also confirmed in Ärîmad-Bhagavatam (1.2.13):

atah pumbhir dvija-srestha


sv-anusthitasya dharmasya

samsiddhir hari-tosanam

O best among the twice-born, it is therefore concluded that the highest perfection one can achieve by discharging the duties prescribed for one’s own occupation according to caste divisions and orders of life is to please the Personality of Godhead.”


The goal of all of our activities should be to please Krsna, and in the verse quoted by Râmânanda Râya, executing one’s duties according to one’s varna and asrama is recommended. Prabhupâda often said that varnasrama-dharma is the beginning of human life. Dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah: without dharma, men are on the level of animals. Why? Because dharma, religious principles, or varnasrama-dharma, occupational duties, regulate the activities of the living being. Without being regulated a person is just like an animal. An animal eats whatever he wants, sleeps whenever he wants for as long as he can, has sex with whomever he wants whenever he can, and defends himself, arranges some shelter for himself, however he can. Even if a man engages his superior, human intelligence in these same activities, he is no better than an animal.

The human being may eat on a nice plate on a nice table, and the animal may eat on the floor of the jungle, but the animal enjoys his eating as much as the human being. The human may sleep on a nice mattress in a nice house, and the animal may sleep on the ground, but when asleep the animal doesn’t know he is sleeping on the ground or the human that he is sleeping on a mattress.

Sleeping is the same, and in fact the human’s sleep might be more disturbed than the animal’s, because he has so many worries and anxieties and causes of depression. And the animal might defend himself with his teeth and claws, and the human with sophisticated weapons of mass destruction, but it is the same principle–defending.

Eating, sleeping, mating, and defending are common to human beings and animals. What distinguishes a human from an animal is dharma, following religious principles to become God conscious. Otherwise, there is no difference.

ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam ca

samanyam etat pasubhir naranam

dharmo hi tesam adhiko viseso

dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah

Both animals and men share the activities of eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. But the special property of the humans is that they are able to engage in spiritual life. Therefore without spiritual life, humans are on the level of animals.” (Hitopadesa)

Now, one might question, “You mean to say that all the big leaders of the world–the presidents and prime ministers and scientists and Nobel Prize laureates–if they are not Krsna conscious, God conscious, they are no better than animals?” Ärîmad-Bhagavatam says that they are just bigger animals. In the jungle the small animals all fear the big animals–respect the big animals–and the Bhagavatam says that those who never engage in krsna-katha, who never hear the glories of the Lord, are just small animals who praise the bigger ones. That’s all.


samstutah purusah pasuh

na yat-karna-pathopeto

jatu nama gadagrajah

Men who are like dogs, hogs, camels, and asses praise those men who never listen to the transcendental pastimes of Lord Ärî Krsna, the deliverer from evils.” (SB 2.3.19)

So, dharma is the beginning of human life, and one should execute one’s duties in varnasrama-dharma for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord, Visnu. By that process one advances to the goal of life.

Here, Râmânanda Râya and Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu are discussing krsna-katha. And after hearing this verse, what does Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu say?


prabhu kahe,–”eho bahya, age kaha ara”

raya kahe, “krsne karmarpana–sarva-sadhya-sara”


The Lord replied, “This is external. You had better tell Me of some other means.”

Ramananda replied, “To offer the results of one’s activities to Krsna is the essence of all perfection.”


Varnasrama-dharma is required, but following the regulations of varnasrama-dharma does not necessarily mean that one will be Krsna conscious. One can follow the rules and regulations, but if one is not in the mood of offering the results of one’s work to Krsna, he will not be Krsna conscious–directly Krsna conscious.

Râmânanda Râya next quoted a verse from the Bhagavad-gita (9.27):


yat karosi yad asnasi

yaj juhosi dadasi yat

yat tapasyasi kaunteya

tat kurusva mad-arpanam


“‘O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering to Me.’”


Here we are going a step further. One still works according to one’s position in the varnasrama system, but one offers the results of one’s work to Krsna, as Krsna advises in the Bhagavad-gita. That is definitely a further development. And what does Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu say?


prabhu kahe,–”eho bahya, age kaha ara”

raya kahe,–”svadharma-tyaga, ei sadhya-sara”


This is also external,” Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu said. “Please proceed and speak further on this matter.”

Râmânanda Râya replied, “To give up one’s occupational duties in the varnasrama system is the essence of perfection.”


Râmânanda Râya cited two verses in support of this proposal, and Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu responded:


prabhu kahe,–”eho bahya, age kaha ara”

raya kahe, “jnana-misra bhakti–sadhya-sara”


After hearing Râmânanda Râya speak in this way, Lord Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Go ahead and say something more.”

Râmânanda Râya then replied, “Devotional service mixed with empiric knowledge is the essence of perfection.”


To offer the fruits of one’s work to Krsna is good, but even then one might be attached to one’s work. To give up one’s position in varnasrama-dharma is better because it shows more detachment. But even if one has detachment, one may not have knowledge. So Râmânanda Râya went further, including knowledge as part of the means, with reference to a verse from the Bhagavad-gita (18.54).

And what did Lord Caitanya say? “Eho bahya, age kaha ara.” He wanted Ramanandaya Raya to go further. And Râmânanda Râya responded.


prabhu kahe, “eho bahya, age kaha ara”

raya kahe,–”jnana-sunya bhakti–sadhya-sara”


After hearing this, the Lord, as usual, rejected it, . . .


He rejected devotional service mixed with empiric knowledge (jnana-misra bhakti).

TRANSLATION (continued)

. . . considering it to be external devotional service mixed with knowledge. He again asked Râmânanda Râya to speak further, and Râmânanda Râya replied, “Pure devotional service without any touch of speculative knowledge is the essence of perfection.”


Râmânanda Râya then quoted an important verse from the Tenth Canto of Ärîmad-Bhagavatam (10.14.3):


jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva

jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam

sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir

ye prayaso ‘jita jito ‘py asi tais tri-lokyam


Râmânanda Râya continued, “(Lord Brahma said:) ‘My dear Lord, those devotees who have thrown away the impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth and have therefore abandoned discussing empiric philosophical truths should hear from self-realized devotees about Your holy name, form, pastimes, and qualities. They should follow the principles of devotional service and remain free from illicit sex, gambling, intoxication, and animal slaughter. Surrendering themselves fully with body, words, and mind, they can live in any asrama or social status. Indeed, You are conquered by such persons, although You are always unconquerable.’”


Then Lord Caitanya said, eho haya, “This is it!”–not eho bahya, “This is external.” But even then He added, age kaha ara: “Please speak further.”


prabhu kahe, “eho haya, age kaha ara”

raya kahe, “prema-bhakti–sarva-sadhya-sara”


At this point, Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “This is all right, but still you can speak more on the subject.”

Râmânanda Râya then replied, “Ecstatic love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the essence of all perfection.”


In the purport Ärîla Prabhupâda says, “In his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya, Ärîla Bhaktivinoda Thakura summarizes the conversation up to this point, where Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu says to Râmânanda Râya, eho haya, age kaha ara: ‘This is the process accepted in devotional service, but there is something more than this. Therefore please explain what is beyond.’”

The point is that although the verse from Ärîmad-Bhagavatam describes the process of pure devotional service, in the neophyte stage devotional activities may sometimes appear impure; there may appear to be some material taint in one’s devotional activities. Therefore, although Lord Caitanya said, “You have come to this point of pure devotional service, which I accept as the goal of life and simultaneously the means to achieve the goal,” He also said, “Go further,” because He wanted to make sure that we come to the goal, prema-bhakti.

Ärîmad-Bhagavatam (11.3.31) says, bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya: bhakti comes from bhakti. We have come to the point of bhakti, pure bhakti, but bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya–prema-bhakti, or sadhya-bhakti, comes from sadhana-bhakti. Sadhana-bhakti will lead to the goal, but one must stick to the process. If one does stick to the process, he will reach the goal, prema-bhakti.

Now we shall discuss the process of pure devotional service described in the verse cited by Ärî Râmânanda Râya, because that is a process that each and every one of us can and should follow. It is feasible for every one of us. We shall discuss each word, because each word is important.

Jnane here means “for speculative knowledge.” Speculative knowledge almost always leads to an imperfect, impersonal conclusion. Prayasam means “unnecessary endeavor”–it is unnecessary. And udapasya means “giving up completely.” The endeavor for speculative knowledge has absolutely no value for a devotee and should be given up completely. Namantah. In his synonyms, Ärîla Prabhupâda writes, “completely surrendering.” More literally, namanta is translated as “offering obeisances.” Obeisances are an indication of submission and surrender. Once, Ärîla Prabhupâda paraphrased these words: “You should give up the bad habit of speculation and just become submissive.”

San-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam. Bhavadiya-vartam means “discussions related to You (Krsna),” and san-mukharitam means “from the mouths of pure devotees (sat).” We should hear the messages of Godhead from the mouths of truthful devotees, not from professional reciters.

In India there are many professional reciters, and some also tour. Although they may be very popular, hearing from them will not help. People go to them to be entertained, or they may feel that they are performing some pious activity. But what result do they want from such piety? Often they just want to be happy in the material world.

Ärîla Prabhupâda spoke of one Bhagavata reciter who would tell his audience, “Ärîmad-Bhagavatam teaches that you should be happy in family life.” Now, the Bhagavatam is filled with stories of devotees who left their families to realize God, beginning with the speaker of the Bhagavatam, Sukadeva Gosvami. He did not remain at home long enough even to have his sacred-thread or other ceremonies. He just walked out of the house, and his father, Ärîla Vyasadeva, the literary incarnation of Godhead, went running after him into the forest, calling for him, but all he heard was the echoing of his voice in the trees.

yam pravrajantam anupetam apeta-krtyam

dvaipayano viraha-katara ajuhava

putreti tan-mayataya taravo ‘bhinedus

tam sarva-bhuta-hrdayam munim anato ‘smi

Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto that great sage (Sukadeva Gosvami) who can enter the hearts of all. When he went away to take up the renounced order of life (sannyasa), leaving home without undergoing reformation by the sacred thread or the ceremonies observed by the higher castes, his father, Vyasadeva, fearing separation from him, cried out, ‘O my son!’ Indeed, only the trees, which were absorbed in the same feelings of separation, echoed in response to the begrieved father.” (SB 1.2.2)

Sukadeva Gosvami was gone. So, from the very beginning of Ärîmad-Bhagavatam we hear the histories of great devotees who left hearth and home to realize God. All five Pandavas left for the Himalayas. And Maharaja Pariksit gave up his family and kingdom to sit on the bank of the Ganges and hear Ärîmad-Bhagavatam.

Why did the professional reciter claim that the Bhagavatam teaches that you should remain happy in family life? Prabhupâda said that he wanted to get donations from the householders, so he wanted to say something that would please them. Sadhu means “to cut.” We have to hear from the mouths of sadhus (san-mukharitam). Then it will be effective. Ärîla Prabhupâda said–and I saw it myself when I visited a large Bhagavata-saptaha–that immediately after the recitation, everything is as it was. People do not change. After the recitation people light up their cigarettes and talk about what a nice katha they heard. This kind of katha–Bhagavata-saptaha or whatever–will not help. Sanatana Gosvami says, avaisnava-mukhodgirnam putam hari-kathamrtam sravanam naiva kartavyam: one should not hear talks about Krsna from a non-Vaisnava. San-mukharitam–one should hear from pure devotees, self-realized souls.

Sthane sthitah means “remaining in their position.” It doesn’t matter if one is a grhastha. One can remain a grhastha–he need not become a sannyasi. That is not the point. One can remain in his position in the varnasrama system (although in natural course one may change his position), because pure devotional service is transcendental. Anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam. It is not limited by any material condition; it cannot be covered by karma or jnana or anything else. It is transcendental. So you can stay in your position, but you must follow the process described here.

In his translation Ärîla Prabhupâda writes, “You should completely follow the principles of devotional service and remain free from illicit sex, gambling, intoxication, and animal slaughter.” Now, we don’t find these words in the Sanskrit. There are different types of translation, which have different names in Sanskrit. In one kind of translation one puts a bit of the purport into the translation, and that is what Ärîla Prabhupâda did here. And I really appreciate it, because one can take this phrase sthane sthitah, “you remain in your position,” to mean, “Oh, I am fine as I am. I was getting worried for a while, but I can stay in my position and do everything the same.” Ärîla Prabhupâda, perhaps anticipating such a response from some readers, qualified the phrase right in the translation. He did not take any chances that a reader would harbor any misconceptions going into the purport, but in the translation itself he says, “Yes, you can remain in your position, but you must follow the process of devotional service and refrain from illicit sex; gambling (and speculating); intoxicants, including tea, coffee, and cigarettes; and eating meat, fish, or eggs.”

If you do that, you can stay in your position and become Krsna conscious. That is the beauty of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement, the beauty of the bhakti cult, that one can remain in one’s position and execute devotional service in Krsna consciousness. A grhastha can become a pure devotee, and a sannyasi can become a pure devotee. Anyone can become a pure devotee if he or she follows the process. And anyone can follow. So it is very easy. One can remain in his or her position and simply follow. Jivanti means that a devotee who always hears about Krsna will go back home, back to Godhead. He or she must simply follow the regulative principles and remain alive in Krsna consciousness by hearing and chanting about Krsna.

Tanu-van-manobhih. Tanu means “body,” vak means “words,” and mana means “mind.” Our acaryas have explained how these words can relate to other words in the text. The basic meaning is that one should surrender fully, with body, words, and mind, to the topics of Krsna spoken by self-realized souls. Ärîla Visvanatha Cakravarti says that one should offer all respects and obeisances (namantah) with one’s body, words, and mind. With one’s body one can offer obeisances to the Bhagavatam, to the speaker of the Bhagavatam, and to the holy place in which the Bhagavatam is recited. With one’s words one can glorify the Bhagavatam and the speakers of the Bhagavatam, and one can repeat the message and narrations of Krsna. And with one’s mind one can feel reverence for and take pleasure in the topics of Krsna, and one can remember the instructions and pastimes of Krsna. Thus one can be fully engaged with one’s body, words, and mind–not that with our body we sit in the krsna-katha but with our mind we are somewhere else, calculating how much money we have in the bank and if we have enough to make the next payments. It is possible that one’s body could be in the krsna-katha but one’s words or mind could be somewhere else. But if we always engage everything (tanu-van-manobhih), our whole being, in krsna-katha, in Krsna consciousness, that is pure devotional service.

And what is the result? Ye prayaso ‘jita jito ‘py asi tais tri-lokyam. One of Krsna’s names is Ajita, “unconquerable.” Even though Krsna cannot be conquered by any means, He can be conquered by pure devotees who follow this process. That is the conclusion. In other words, they will come to the stage of prema-bhakti, because Krsna is conquered only by prema, the pure love of His devotees.

Ärîla Sanatana Gosvami explains tanu-van-manobhih (“by body, words, andmind”) in relation to conquering Krsna, who is unconquerable, in three ways. He says that nondevotees can never conquer Krsna. They cannot conquer Him by their physical strength (like Hiranyakasipu), by their verbal expertise, or by their mental power. Despite all their endeavors, the Absolute Truth remains beyond their grasp. But devotees, by engaging fully in devotional service, become perfect in Krsna consciousness, and thus they can conquer Him. Then they can touch His lotus feet with their hands, they can call Him to come with their words, and simply by thinking of Him they can gain His direct audience within their minds.

His Holiness Rtadhvaja Swami told me about a dream he had last night. We have been participating in a japa workshop, and tomorrow will be the last day. In his dream he was chanting Hare Krsna, and Krsna appeared. This is what we say, what our philosophy tells us: nama cintamanih krsnas caitanya-rasa-vigrahah purnah suddho nitya-mukto ‘bhinnatvan nama-naminoh–the name of Krsna and Krsna Himself are the same. So, in his dream he was chanting Hare Krsna and Krsna appeared. And in his dream he thought, “Oh, it’s true!” (laughter) This is an example of how Krsna can be conquered by one’s words. If we chant Hare Krsna purely, Krsna comes. He appears. And the pure devotee, the self-realized soul, if he just thinks of Krsna, Krsna appears in his mind–or in person. He remains by the side of His devotee.

Sanatana Gosvami further explains these words in relation to Krsna, that Krsna’s body is conquered because He always remains by the side of His pure devotee, His words are conquered because He always sings the praises of His devotees, and His mind is conquered because He always thinks of His pure devotees. One can completely conquer Krsna by pure devotional service.

In the discussion between Lord Caitanya and Ramananada Raya, this verse from Ärîmad-Bhagavatam marks the beginning of pure devotional service. But the discussion goes further. Lord Caitanya keeps saying, age kaha ara: “Speak more; go further.” Then we come to vaidhi-bhakti and raganuga-bhakti, and then to santa-rasa, dasya-rasa, sakhya-rasa, vatsalya-rasa, and madhurya-rasa. In madhurya-rasa there are many gopis, and among them Ärîmati Radharani is the foremost. And Ärîmati Radharani Herself has various developments of ecstatic feelings, culminating in prema-vilasa-vivarta, the height of ecstatic love in separation. When Râmânanda Râya came to that point, Caitanya Mahaprabhu covered his mouth with His hand. He said, “This is the limit of the goal of life. Only by your mercy have I come to understand it.”

At the end of their discussions, Râmânanda Râya said to Lord Caitanya, “At first I saw You as a sannyasi, but now I see You as Syamasundara, the cowherd boy, and now I see you with a golden luster. Please explain the reason.” Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu was playing the part of a devotee, and for a devotee to be addressed as Krsna or even considered on the same level as Krsna is anathema. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “You are an advanced devotee, and an advanced devotee–a maha-bhagavata–sees Krsna everywhere.”

sthavara-jangama dekhe, na dekhe tara murti

sarvatra haya nija ista-deva-sphurti

The maha-bhagavata, the advanced devotee, certainly sees everything mobile and immobile, but he does not exactly see their forms. Rather, everywhere he immediately sees manifest the form of the Supreme Lord.” (Cc Madhya 8.274) Then Mahaprabhu quoted a verse from Ärîmad-Bhagavatam that describes the maha-bhagavata, that he doesn’t exactly see the forms of the material world but sees Krsna manifest everywhere.

sarva-bhutesu yah pasyed

bhagavad-bhavam atmanah

bhutani bhagavaty atmany

esa bhagavatottamah

A person advanced in devotional service sees within everything the soul of souls, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Ärî Krsna. Consequently he always sees the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the cause of all causes and understands that all things are situated in Him.” (SB 11.2.45, quoted as Cc Madhya 8.275)

Râmânanda Râya replied, “Please give up these serious talks. Do not try to conceal Your real form. I know who You are.” Then Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu, out of His causeless mercy, revealed His combined form of Radha and Krsna (rasaraja and mahabhava). We have a relief on the wall of the temple here that shows Râmânanda Râya witnessing Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu manifesting His form as Radha and Krsna. And Râmânanda Râya became overwhelmed with transcendental bliss. There are some esoteric explanations of this pastime, in which Caitanya Mahaprabhu revealed the confidential truth of His identity–sri-krsna-caitanya radha-krsna nahe anya. On occasion He would manifest Himself, but He would always say, “Do not disclose this fact to anyone,” because He was playing the part of a devotee and wanted to maintain His role as a devotee, to fulfill His purpose to show by example how to be a devotee and practice pure devotional service.

Especially in Kali-yuga, people are so fallen and prone to become imitation gods or accept imitation gods that the Lord as Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu hid His identity. He was a channa-avatara, a “concealed incarnation,” as mentioned in Ärîmad-Bhagavatam.

Ärîla Prabhupâda told the story of a man in Calcutta who could imitate the barking of different types of dogs. He would hold programs in halls and sell tickets, and people would come to hear his demonstrations. Ärîla Prabhupâda remarked that people would pay money to hear the imitation dog but that real dogs were barking in the street yet no one paid them heed. Similarly, the real God–Krsna–is there, but nobody cares. Yet if some imitation God comes, they flock. Get on a plane and go. Jump in a car and go. That is Kali-yuga.

That is why Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s identity as Radha and Krsna was revealed only to certain select devotees such as Râmânanda Râya, and it is by their mercy and by the mercy of Ärîla Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, who wrote Ärî Caitanya-caritamrta, and by the mercy of Ärîla Prabhupâda, who translated and presented it to us in a most appropriate way, through parampara, that we are able to enter into these transcendental mysteries and have the opportunity to realize the most confidential service of Radha and Krsna–by their mercy, following in their footsteps.

Râmânanda Râya’s Disappearance Day, part two

A Lecture by Giriraj Swami

June 1, 2008

Camarillo, California

We continue our discussion of the conversation between Ärî Ramananada Raya and Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu, ramananda-samvada, recorded in Ärî Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Eight: “Talks Between Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Râmânanda Râya.”


sancarya ramabhidha-bhakta-meghe


gaurabdhir etair amuna vitirnais

taj-jnatva-ratnalayatam prayati


Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is known as Gauranga, is the ocean of all conclusive knowledge in devotional service. He empowered Ärî Râmânanda Râya, who may be likened to a cloud of devotional service. This cloud was filled with the water of all the conclusive purports of devotional service and was empowered by the ocean to spread this water over the sea of Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. Thus the ocean of Caitanya Mahaprabhu became filled with the jewels of the knowledge of pure devotional service.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

According to revealed scriptures, Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna Himself, the origin of all knowledge–perfect knowledge. Here, Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the ocean of knowledge of the conclusive purports of devotional service, is taking the part of a student and asking questions, and He empowered Ärî Râmânanda Râya to give perfect answers. Thus Caitanya Mahaprabhu is compared to an ocean and Râmânanda Râya to a cloud that draws water from the ocean and then showers the water across the ocean as rain.

We resume our discussion of the conversation between Râmânanda Râya and Lord Caitanya.

TEXT 243

anyonye mili’ dunhe nibhrte vasiya

prasnottara-gosthi kahe anandita hana


Thus they met time and time again, sitting in a secluded place and jubilantly discussing devotional service by the question-and-answer process.

TEXT 244

prabhu puche, ramananda karena uttara

ei mata sei ratre katha paraspara


Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked the questions, and Ärî Râmânanda Râya gave the answers. In this way they were engaged in discussion throughout the night.

TEXT 245

prabhu kahe,–”kon vidya vidya-madhye sara?”

raya kahe,–”krsna-bhakti vina vidya nahi ara”


On one occasion the Lord inquired, “Of all types of education, which is the most important?”

Râmânanda Râya replied, “No education is important other than the transcendental devotional service of Krsna.”

PURPORT by Ärîla Prabhupâda

Texts 245 to 257 are all questions and answers between Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Râmânanda Râya. In these exchanges there is an attempt to show the difference between material and spiritual existence. Education in Krsna consciousness is always transcendental and is the best of all forms of education. Material education aims at increasing the activities of material sense gratification. Beyond material sense gratification is another negative form of knowledge called brahma-vidya, or impersonal transcendental knowledge. But beyond that brahma-vidya, or knowledge of the impersonal Brahman, is knowledge of devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Visnu. This knowledge is higher. And still higher is devotional service to Lord Krsna, which is the topmost form of education. According to Ärîmad-Bhagavatam (4.29.49), tat karma hari-tosam yat sa vidya tan-matir yaya: “Work meant for pleasing the Supreme Lord is the best, and education that enhances one’s Krsna consciousness is the best.”

Also, according to Ärîmad-Bhagavatam (7.5.23-24):

sravanam kirtanam visnoh

smaranam pada-sevanam

arcanam vandanam dasyam

sakhyam atma-nivedanam

iti pumsarpita visnau

bhaktis cen nava-laksana

kriyeta bhagavaty addha

tan manye ‘dhitam uttamam

This is a statement given by Prahlada Maharaja in answer to a question raised by his father. Prahlada Maharaja said, “To hear or chant about Lord Visnu, to remember Him, to serve His lotus feet, to worship Him, to offer prayers to Him, to become His servant and His friend, to sacrifice everything for His service–all these are varieties of devotional service. One who is engaged in such activities is understood to be educated to the topmost perfection.”


This is the first in the series of questions and answers, and it seems appropriate in this environment of education, but as Ärîla Prabhupâda says at the beginning of the purport, these questions and answers are meant to highlight the difference between the material and the spiritual. Material existence begins from the basic misconception that “I am the body and everything in relation to the body is mine.” More or less everyone is in this bodily concept of life. They strongly identify with the body and are deeply attached to things related to the body. And because they identify with the body, they think the goal of life is to give pleasure to the senses of the body. Whatever they do is more or less for the sake of the body.

Ärîla Prabhupâda gives the example that if you are performing a mathematical calculation and you make a mistake in the first step, then even if you perform all the other steps perfectly, you will likely stray further and further away from the actual answer or solution. If we begin from the mistaken premise that “I am the body,” even if everything else we do is perfect in terms of the body, because we made the most fundamental error in the very first step, we will end up further and further away from the actual goal.

The body itself is full of miseries. As soon as we accept a material body we accept the miseries of birth, death, old age, and disease (janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi), and so many other miseries (tapa-traya). Everyone wants relief from these miseries, but as long as they are in the body–in the bodily concept of life–although they may adopt some measures that may give some temporary relief, ultimately they cannot escape the miseries of material existence, and often the remedies they accept are more troublesome than the troubles they are meant to address.

That is the basic situation in material life, but because of maya, people are not aware of their actual position. Maya has two potencies: one throws us down, and the other covers us. Because we are covered, we think we are happy, even though any sane or sober person can see that we are not, that we are always subjected to various types of miseries. But because of the covering potency of maya, we think we are happy. Of course, things are getting so bad that it is becoming harder and harder to maintain the illusion of happiness, but even then, if you ask, “How are you doing?” most people will say, “Fine.”

Ärîla Prabhupâda gives the example of a patient in a hospital. He has suffered a severe trauma and has tubes all over his body; his arm is in a cast, his leg is in traction, and he has so many contraptions about him meant to counteract the suffering. But if you ask him how he is, he will say, “I’m okay; I’m doing good.” (laughter)

That is our position, and when one becomes a little sober and actually realizes his or her position, he or she will try to make a solution, to get out of the material miseries, the bondage of material existence. He or she will inquire, as Sanatana Gosvami inquired of Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu, ke ami, kene amaya jare tapa-traya?–”Who am I? Why do the threefold miseries always give me trouble? How can I get relief?” That is the beginning of human intelligence. Until we come to make such inquiry, we are engaged just like animals–eating, sleeping, enjoying sense gratification, and arranging for shelter and defense.

When one actually inquires, as Sanatana Gosvami did of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, one is considered to be a human being. And in answer to the question “Who am I?” Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, jivera ‘svarupa’ haya–krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’: “The constitutional position of the living entity is to be an eternal servant of Krsna.” Krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’ means that we are servants of Krsna even after liberation.

Between the karmis, who work to earn money and spend it for gross and subtle enjoyment, and the bhaktas, who understand that they are eternal servants of Krsna and engage in devotional service–in between the karmis and the bhaktas are the jnanis. Because the jnanis recognize the miseries of material existence and want to escape them, they are more elevated than the karmis, but because they do not have knowledge of Krsna or of the living entity as the eternal servant of Krsna, their approach is negative. They think, “I am an individual and am suffering, so if I give up being an individual I won’t have to suffer. I have desires and by pursuing them I suffer, so I will give up desire. I have thoughts and my thoughts lead to misery, so I will give up thinking. I have feeling and my feeling leads to misery, so I will give up feeling.” So they want to negate their individual existence–no more feeling, no more thinking, no more desiring, no more working–and to merge and become one with God.

Ultimately the principle is the same. The karmis want to become the chief (just like now there is so much competition to see who will become the president), and the jnanis, the impersonalists, also want to become the chief–by merging and becoming one with the Supreme. But the real solution is to become the servant of the Supreme (jivera ‘svarupa’ haya–krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’). That is real knowledge. Therefore Ärî Râmânanda Râya says that other than knowledge of devotional service, which is the constitutional activity of the living entity, there is no real knowledge. The rest is illusion. And Ärîla Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that material education makes one more and more foolish, because it is based on the body. To identify with the body is foolish, and mundane education, which reinforces the bodily concept of life and ultimately teaches one how to earn money and enjoy the body, makes one more foolish. The only real knowledge is knowledge of devotional service.

Before I met Ärîla Prabhupâda and the devotees, I had been seeking. And when I met Prabhupâda, I understood that he was the teacher for whom I was searching. And I surrendered to him. Without surrender, one cannot get knowledge. We see in the Bhagavad-gita that it was only after Arjuna surrendered that Krsna began to instruct him. Arjuna said,


prcchami tvam dharma-sammudha-cetah

yac chreyah syan niscitam bruhi tan me

sisyas te ‘ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam

Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.” (Bg 2.7)

Krsna immediately assumed the position of teacher and chastised his disciple:

asocyan anvasocas tvam

prajna-vadams ca bhasase

gatasun agatasums ca

nanusocanti panditah

While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead.” (Bg 2.11)

First is surrender. Without surrendering to an authority, a spiritual master, one cannot get transcendental knowledge.

tad viddhi pranipatena

pariprasnena sevaya

upadeksyanti te jnanam

jnaninas tattva-darsinah

Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.” (Bg 4.34) Pranipatena means “by offering obeisances”–by surrendering.

So I surrendered to Ärîla Prabhupâda, and after serving in the Boston temple for some months I got a letter from him: “I enclose a letter from your father, which will speak for itself. From this letter it appears that you are a good scholar with a good background in your education. So if you wish to make further progress in your educational career, that will be a nice asset for our Krsna consciousness movement.” Ärîla Prabhupâda continued, “You have a taste for psychology and divinity studies, and this is very nice. Of course, our Krsna consciousness movement is on the line of divinity, and we have got so many books about the science of divinity.” Ärîla Prabhupâda used the word “divinity.” Religious studies had not really begun or become very popular yet. But there were schools of divinity. Finally, he concluded, “I like the idea that you should make a thorough study of all theological schools, and in the future if you can explain our Krsna consciousness movement as the post-graduate presentation of all theological theses, it will be a great accomplishment.”

When I received the letter, I was unsure how to proceed. I did not want to go back to the university, but I knew that the order of the spiritual master was the first and highest consideration. Still, I wasn’t sure if Prabhupâda was giving me an order or just offering an option. I consulted my temple president, and he also couldn’t say. So we concluded that I should write and ask Prabhupâda directly. I wrote, “If you are instructing me to pursue my studies, then I will gladly do whatever you say, but if you are giving me the choice, then I would rather stay in the temple with the devotees and worship the Deities and go out for sankirtana.” A week later another letter came from Ärîla Prabhupâda: “Yes, there is no need of any further education.” (laughter) He wrote, “When Lord Caitanya was discussing with Râmânanda Râya who is the best-educated man, the answer was that a person who is Krsna conscious is the topmost educated man. Similarly, Prahlada Maharaja stated before his father that one who has taken to Krsna consciousness is the best-educated man. I think therefore that in all circumstances you should steadfastly continue your Krsna conscious engagement, rather than joining any more universities.”

Now we shall proceed to the next question and answer.

TEXT 246

kirti-gana-madhye jivera kon bada kirti?”

krsna-bhakta baliya yanhara haya khyati”


Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu then asked Râmânanda Râya, “Out of all glorious activities, which is the most glorious?”

Râmânanda Râya replied, “That person who is reputed to be a devotee of Lord Krsna enjoys the utmost fame and glory.”


The greatest reputation a living being can have is to be a devotee of Krsna and to act in Krsna consciousness. In the material world everyone is trying to be famous by accumulating a large bank balance or material opulence. There is a steady competition among karmis attempting to advance in a wealthy society. The whole world is turning in accordance with that competitive mood. But this kind of name and fame is temporary, for it lasts only as long as the temporary material body exists.


It may not even last that long. For years Bill Gates was reputed to be the richest person in the world, and then one year it was announced that the owner of Ikea was the richest. Then there was a whole confusion–was he or wasn’t he? After a few days the statement was retracted: “Actually, much of his wealth is in the names of trusts; it is not his.” So Bill Gates was back on top. Then there was a controversy over which is the tallest building in the world. For years it was the Sears Tower in Chicago. Then someone built one in Kuala Lumpur that, with its tower on top, was higher. In Chicago they continued to advertise the Sears Tower as the tallest building in the world, though, because they did not count the tower on the other building. And in Kuala Lumpur they advertised their building as the tallest in the world. There is always competition for reputation.

Somehow or other, people want to be famous. Movies stars, sports heroes, rich people–all are famous. But the fame attached to being rich or glamorous lasts only as long as the body.

One of the founders of industry in the United States was Henry Ford, and he became one of the richest men in the world. Later, his great grandson Alfred Ford came to meet Prabhupâda. Inevitably, the young man must have thought, “I am the great grandson of Henry Ford.” When he met Prabhupâda, the first thing Ärîla Prabhupâda said was “So, you are the grandson of Henry Ford?” “Yes.” “And where is Henry Ford now?” Prabhupâda’s statement immediately took the young man off the bodily platform. Yes, where is he now? That is a good question. Is he an ant or a worm in stool? We don’t know where he is now.

At best, one’s fame will last only as long as one’s body. And then we don’t know where we will go or what we will be. We are under the stringent laws of material nature.

purusah prakrti-stho hi

bhunkte prakrti-jan gunan

karanam guna-sango ‘sya


The living entity in material nature thus follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of nature. This is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil among various species.” (Bg 13.22)

Prabhupâda remarked that people are worrying whether their children and grandchildren will have gas to drive their cars, but they are not thinking that they may become cockroaches in the back seat of the car. (laughter) The son may be driving a big car, while the father is in the back in the body of a cockroach. The fame that is attached to the body is short-lived–very short-lived. At most it lasts as long as the body, and often not that long.

Therefore Râmânanda Râya says that one who is reputed as a devotee enjoys the utmost fame.

PURPORT (continued)

One may become famous as a brahma-jnani, an impersonalist scholar, or one may become a materially opulent person. In either case, such reputations are inferior to the reputation of Krsna’s devotee. In the Garuda Purana it is said:

kalau bhagavatam nama

durlabham naiva labhyate


guruna kathitam mama

In this Age of Kali, the fame of one who is known as a great devotee is very rare. However, such a position is superior to that of the great demigods like Brahma and Mahadeva. This is the opinion of all spiritual masters.” . . .

The Garuda Purana similarly states:

brahmananam sahasrebhyah

satra-yaji visisyate




visnu-bhakto visisyate

vaisnavanam sahasrebhya

ekanty eko visisyate

It is said that out of thousands of brahmanas, one is qualified to perform sacrifices, and out of many thousands of such qualified brahmanas expert in sacrificial offerings, one learned brahmana may have passed beyond all Vedic knowledge. He is considered the best among all these brahmanas. And yet, out of thousands of such brahmanas who have surpassed Vedic knowledge, one person may be a visnu-bhakta, and he is most famous. Out of many thousands of such Vaisnavas, one who is completely fixed in the service of Lord Krsna is most famous. Indeed, a person who is completely devoted to the service of the Lord certainly returns home, back to Godhead.”


Because we identify with the body, we identify ourselves as residents of the planet earth. Actually we are not the body. We are spirit souls, meant to get out of this material world and return to our real home with Krsna. But we identify with the body and consider the planet earth–or the United States, or California, or Los Angeles, or this neighborhood or street–to be our home. And we are very worried what the people around us think of us. Sometimes we don’t want to be too open about being devotees because we don’t know what people will think of us, and what they think could affect our material advancement or the congeniality of our social interactions. So we are very careful how we present ourselves, so that people think we are okay, that we are like them–not different.

But the total population of living entities is much greater than the population in our neighborhood or city or state or country or even planet. There are living entities–people–everywhere. And most of them are in the spiritual world. The whole material creation is just one fourth (ekamsa) of the kingdom of God. This one fourth is the prison house. We are the prisoners, and we are trying to impress the other prisoners so they will think that we are like them. “We are as criminal as you are. We are as ignorant as you are. Don’t think we are any different from you.” (laughter) We try to dress and speak and act like they do, to fit into that society. We are not thinking of the real population, the liberated souls who are outside the prison, that they are the people whom we should really be trying to impress–not the criminals, the fools and rascals. We should act to please guru and Krsna and their servants.

The fame of a devotee goes beyond this planet. Narottama dasa Thakura glorifies the spiritual master that his fame is spread throughout the three worlds (ebe yasa ghusuk tri-bhuvana). That is real fame. It is not dependent on the body or on the recognition of ignorant fools. And it extends beyond the material world to the spiritual planets, to the Lord and the pure souls who live with Him. “But,” one may question, “what about the famous people here, the political leaders and intellectual giants–what about them? They are famous.” The Bhagavatam says that those people who are not God conscious are like bigger animals that are praised by smaller animals. Such a statement might sound harsh, but if you identify with the body, you are an animal.

yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke

sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma ijya-dhih

yat-tirtha-buddhih salile na karhicij

janesv abhijnesu sa eva go-kharah

One who identifies his self as the inert body composed of mucus, bile, and air, who assumes his wife and family are permanently his own, who thinks the land of his birth is worshipable, or who sees a place of pilgrimage as merely the water there but who never identifies himself with, feels kinship with, worships, or even visits those who are wise in spiritual truth–such a person is no better than a cow or an ass.” (SB 10.84.13)

Ärîla Prabhupâda used to say that if a dog is thinking, “I am a bulldog,” and if a man is thinking, “I am a British man,” what is the difference? Both are on the bodily platform. So the famous people of this world, who are praised in this world, if they have no spiritual consciousness, are nothing more than bigger animals being praised by smaller animals.


samstutah purusah pasuh

na yat-karna-pathopeto

jatu nama gadagrajah

Men who are like dogs, hogs, camels, and asses praise those men who never listen to the transcendental pastimes of Lord Ärî Krsna, the deliverer from evils.” (SB 2.3.19)

And after all, what is the significance of an animal? The lion is the king of the jungle, and the other animals are afraid of him–”The lion! The lion!” But what does it amount to? It has no significance, being king of the animals in the jungle.

We want to be famous in human society, and actual human society means God conscious. Without religion, without God consciousness, there is no difference between a man and an animal (dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah).

Now we come to the next question and answer.

TEXT 247

sampattira madhye jivera kon sampatti gani?”

radha-krsne prema yanra, sei bada dhani”


Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked, “Of the many capitalists who possess great riches, who is the topmost?”

Râmânanda Râya replied, “He who is richest in love for Radha and Krsna is the greatest capitalist.”


Everyone in this material world is attempting to acquire riches to satisfy the senses. Actually no one cares for anything other than acquiring material possessions and maintaining them. The wealthy are generally accepted as the most important personalities in this material world, but when we compare a material man of wealth to one wealthy in devotional service to Radha and Krsna, the latter is found to be the greatest capitalist. According to Ärîmad-Bhagavatam (10.39.2):

kim alabhyam bhagavati

prasanne sri-niketane

tathapi tat-para rajan

na hi vanchanti kincana

What is difficult for the devotees of Lord Krsna, who is the shelter of the goddess of fortune? Although such devotees can obtain anything, O King, they do not desire anything.”


Ärî Bilvamangala Thakura prays,

bhaktis tvayi sthiratara bhagavan yadi syad

daivena nah phalati divya-kisora-murtih

muktih svayam mukulitanjali sevate ‘sman

dharmartha-kama-gatayah samaya-pratiksah

If I am engaged in devotional service unto You, my dear Lord, then very easily can I perceive Your presence everywhere. And as far as liberation is concerned, I think that liberation stands at my door with folded hands, waiting to serve me–and all material conveniences of dharma (religiosity), artha (economic development), and kama (sense gratification) stand with her.”

By engaging in devotional service, devotees are offered every facility, including liberation. Yet they are so satisfied in devotional service that they do not desire anything else–only more service.

A devotee is satisfied in the service of the Lord, whereas materialists are never satisfied. They always want to increase their material acquisitions. Some decades ago John Paul Getty was the richest man in the world. A newspaper reporter interviewed him: “You are the richest man in the world. You have everything you could possibly want. Can you give us your philosophy of life in one word?” He said, “Yes–’More.’” (laughter) He always wanted more. That means he never had enough. He was always in want.

You have everything money can buy,” the reporter continued. “When you are alone–when there is no one around–what do you think about?” And he replied, “I think about how to pay the bills.” (laughter) The same principle–the big animal and the small animals. The small man is thinking, “How to make the payment on the car? How to make the payment on the house?” and the big man is thinking, “How to make the payment on the multi-billion-dollar acquisition,” but the consciousness is the same.

A devotee is satisfied in the service of the Lord, so he is the richest. He has what he wants, whereas others, who always want more, are poor–always in want. The devotee has the treasure of love for Radha and Krsna within his heart, whereas others look for treasures outside of themselves, treasures meager and mundane in comparison.

There is a story about Emperor Akbar. Although a Muslim, he was open to Hindus, and among the Hindus in his court was the great singer Tansen. Akbar thought, “Tansen sings so beautifully, but what about his teacher? I wish I could hear him sing.” Tansen’s teacher was Haridasa, a saintly person who lived in Vrndavana. But he wouldn’t sing for a king. He sang only for Krsna. So the king disguised himself as an ordinary person and accompanied Tansen to Haridasa’s hut. According to one version, when Akbar heard the beauty (both spiritual and material) of Haridasa’s voice, he was overwhelmed and removed a royal pendant that was concealed under his cloth and threw it on the floor in front of Haridasa. Then Haridasa knew he was the emperor.

The king wanted to reward Haridasa and said, “I can never repay you for this. Yet I want to give you something, whatever you want, whatever is in my power to give.” Haridasa took him a short distance to the Yamuna River and asked him to repair the cracks in the steps of the ghata. The emperor replied, “I could give you anything you want, and you are asking me just to repair some cracks in the steps?” Haridasa said, “Put your face in the water and see what is there.” The emperor put his eyes in the water to look at the steps under the water, and by Haridasa’s mercy he was able to see the actual feature of the Yamuna River and the spiritual Vrndavana. He saw that that ghata was made of cintamani stones, spiritual gems more precious than anything the king had in his treasury.

When the king brought his head out of the water, he looked at Haridasa and said, “With all the wealth in my treasury, I cannot do what you have asked.”

Our standard of wealth and riches in the material world is so poor. Once, when Ärîla Prabhupâda visited Hong Kong, the devotees arranged to receive him at the airport with a Rolls Royce. At the press conference that followed his arrival, a reporter said, “You are supposed to be a spiritual person. Why are you riding in a Rolls Royce?” In response, Ärîla Prabhupâda cited a verse from the Brahma-samhita (5.29):

cintamani-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-vrksa-

laksavrtesu surabhir abhipalayantam


govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami

I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the first progenitor, who is tending cows, yielding all desires, in abodes built with spiritual gems, surrounded by millions of purpose trees, and always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune.” Ärîla Prabhupâda said, “I come from the spiritual world, where everything is made of cintamani gems, which are more precious than gold and diamonds. Even if my disciples had received me in a solid gold car, it would not have been good enough (laughter), but because that was the best they could do, I had

to accept it.” (laughter) After Ärîla Prabhupâda related this story to me, he looked at me and remarked, “What else can you say to such people?” (laughter)

Although what Prabhupâda told the reporter was spoken in an ironic way, it actually illustrates the point that this world of death (martya-loka) is not opulent. Matter is all so gross–even gold, platinum, and diamonds. Diamonds are just coal, compressed coal. All matter is dead. It has no life, and it can never satisfy the soul. Therefore Ärîla Prabhupâda wrote, “One who has tasted the beauty of the Supreme Lord Krsna, in the course of his advancement in Krsna consciousness, no longer has a taste for dead, material things. . . . When one is actually Krsna conscious, he automatically loses his taste for pale things.” (Bg 2.59 purport)

Somehow, soon after I joined, I wrote Ärîla Prabhupâda about the great gift that he had given us, the gift of Krsna consciousness. And in the same letter about the topmost educated man, he wrote, “I am so pleased to learn that you have taken Krsna consciousness as the most valuable gift. One who can understand this is not an ordinary living entity but is the most fortunate.”

TEXT 248

duhkha-madhye kona duhkha haya gurutara?”

krsna-bhakta-viraha vina duhkha nahi dekhi para”


Ärî Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked, “Of all kinds of distress, what is the most painful?”

Ärî Râmânanda Râya replied, “Apart from separation from the devotee of Krsna, I know of no unbearable unhappiness.”


Concerning this, the Lord states in the Vedic literature:

mam anaradhya duhkhartah


sat-sanga-rahito martyo


A person who does not worship Me, who is unduly attached to family, and who does not stick to devotional service must be considered a most unhappy person. Similarly, one who does not associate with Vaisnavas, or who does not render service to his superior, is also a most unhappy person.”

There is also the following statement in the Brhad-bhagavatamrta (1.5.44):

sva-jivanadhikam prarthyam


vicchedena ksanam catra

na sukhamsam labhamahe

Out of all kinds of desirable things experienced in the life of a living entity, association with the devotees of the Lord is the greatest. When we are separated from a devotee even for a moment, we cannot enjoy happiness.”


The real life of the living entity is devotional service–jivera ‘svarupa’ haya–krsnera ‘nitya-dasa.’ Devotional service can be executed in the association of devotees. Without the association of devotees there is no happiness, because there is no chance to hear and chant about Krsna. Such a so-called life is worse than death. Therefore Ärî Prabodhananda Sarasvati prays, kaivalyam narakayate. Kaivalya, merging into the impersonal Brahman, is worse than hell, because at least in hell you can preach–chant and hear the glories of the Lord–whereas in impersonal Brahman there is no devotional service, and there is no happiness. It is worse than hell.

That is the vision of a devotee. His life is devotional service, and devotional service is performed in the association of other devotees. He needs the association of devotees; he is addicted to the association of devotees, and if he doesn’t have it, it becomes very painful. As Ärîla Prabhupâda said, “Instead of thinking, ‘Unless I have a drink, I will go mad,’ one should think, ‘Unless I associate with a sadhu, I will go mad.’ When we can think in this way, we will become liberated.” (TLK 24)

Unfortunately, in the bodily concept of life, as the verse in the purport says, one who is unduly attached to family is bound to suffer, because in the end family members are bound to be separated. Death will separate us from all our mundane attachments (mrtyuh sarva-haras caham), and even apart from death we may be separated by other circumstances. Therefore we should transfer our attachment to devotees, sadhus.

prasangam ajaram pasam

atmanah kavayo viduh

sa eva sadhusu krto

moksa-dvaram apavrtam

Every learned man knows very well that attachment for the material is the greatest entanglement of the spirit soul. But that same attachment, when applied to the self-realized devotees, opens the door of liberation.” (SB 3.25.20)

The Lord said, “A person who does not worship Me, who is unduly attached to family, and who does not stick to devotional service must be considered a most unhappy person.” Without the association of devotees, one can neither take to devotional service nor continue in devotional service.

krsna-bhakti-janma-mula haya ‘sadhu-sanga’

krsna-prema janme, tenho punah mukhya anga

The root cause of devotional service to Lord Krsna is association with advanced devotees. Even when one’s dormant love for Krsna awakens, association with devotees is still most essential.” (Cc Madhya 22.83)

Prahlada Maharaja was born in a family of demons, but because he had the association of Narada Muni while he was in the womb, he became a devotee. And he could not live without the association of devotees, so he preached to his demonic classmates and got them to chant and dance and become devotees. Sometimes Prabhupâda’s followers go to a new place where there are no devotees, but they cannot stay there unless they make devotees. They just cannot live without devotees.

Today I received a phone call from a devotee in South Africa, Ajita Krsna dasi. She had been living in one of the South African townships, or ghettos, but it became too oppressive for her. She wanted to move to a community of devotees, but somehow it didn’t work out. Then she met a very pious, very good, wealthy lady who owned a large estate in the Knysna forest, which the lady had developed as a resort with many chalets. The lady is originally from England, and as a youth, as she made her way by land and sea to South Africa, she was robbed in Kenya. In desperation, she went to a Catholic church for help, but she was turned away. Then, by chance, she happened upon the Hare Krsna temple in Nairobi and spent three months there. She got the association of devotees, and although she did not become a proper devotee herself, she came to harbor a dream that the chalet at the bottom of her property would one day be used as a Krsna temple. So when she met Ajita, she offered her a place to stay for free. And now Ajita has a perfect situation–all facilities, natural beauty, and no expenses. Wealthy people own and rent houses in Knysna to be near the beautiful beach and forest. But there is one problem: there are no devotees there. Ajita will have to make them–or meet them.

Even I have my own little story. In Mauritius we had a patron, Mr. Gowtum Teelok, who was actually a friend of Ärîla Prabhupâda’s. His family owned sugar plantations, and they held important positions in the government. Mr. Teelok had a second house on the seaside, and he was always inviting me to come and spend time there. So finally I went, with one other devotee. Although it was on the ocean, with a garden with plants and flowers and palm trees, to me it was like a desert. There were no devotees or Deities. So it was dry, like being in a desert. So I stayed for a few hours and then shifted to the temple.

In general, we need the association of devotees, and in particular, we may have special relationships with specific advanced devotees–our spiritual masters and perhaps some dear friends. And when we feel separation from some particular devotee, we feel acute pain. Ärîla Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was the most advanced devotee, one of the Six Gosvamis, but after Rupa Gosvami left this world Raghunatha dasa felt so much separation that he wrote in a poem that Govardhana Hill, which he loved so much, had become like a python, and that Radha-kunda, which he loved as Ärîmati Radharani, had become like the gaping jaws of a tiger. There was no happiness for him, even in his beloved Govardhana Hill and Ärî Radha-kunda.

Narottama dasa Thakura also lamented in separation from Lord Caitanya and His associates. He wrote that being unable to bear their separation he would smash his head against the rock and enter into fire.

pasane kutibo matha anale pasibo

gauranga gunera nidhi kotha gele pabo

I will smash my head against the rock and enter into the fire. Where will I find Lord Gauranga, the reservoir of all wonderful qualities?

se-saba sangira sange je koilo bilas

se-sanga na paiya kande narottama das

Being unable to obtain the association of Lord Gauranga accompanied by all of these devotees in whose association He performed His pastimes, Narottama dasa simply weeps.” (Prarthana, Saparsada-bhagavad-viraha-janita-vilapa, “Lamentation Due to Separation from the Lord and His Associates,” 4-5)

Such separation cannot be compared to material separation. In time, material separation dulls, and one gradually forgets. One may even drown oneself in other things–another person or some pursuit–to replace or forget the lost loved one. But in devotional service, separation is not like that. In devotional service, our relationships are based not on the body but on the eternal relation between the soul and the Supreme Soul. The relationships are eternal and continue even after death. Thus Narottama dasa Thakura sings, cakhu-dan dilo yei, janme janme prabhu sei: “He who has opened my eyes with transcendental knowledge is my lord birth after birth.” And in service, that separation becomes blissful.

When Ärîla Prabhupâda first came to America, he was with the devotees all the time. First he had only one center, in New York City, and there he was always with them. Then some devotees went and opened the second center, in San Francisco, and when Prabhupâda went there it was very hard for the New York devotees, because they were used to seeing Prabhupâda every day. And when Prabhupâda went to India, it was even more difficult–for all of them. But he wrote to one disciple, “Please be happy in separation. I am separated from my guru maharaja since 1936, but I am always with him so long I work according to his direction. So we should all work together for satisfying Lord Krsna and in that way the feelings of separation will transform into transcendental bliss.”

This is the mystery of separation in Krsna consciousness. Although externally there is separation and lamentation, internally there is association and bliss. The real thing is the soul, and association on the spiritual platform is based on the soul–and the Supreme Soul–and is not limited by the body or time and space. What Râmânanda Râya said is certainly true–the most intense pain is separation from a pure devotee–but at the same time, the pain of separation can serve as an impetus in one’s devotional service, and when one becomes more absorbed in devotional service, the feelings of separation transform into transcendental bliss. One experiences meeting even in separation. Thus Ärîla Prabhupâda often said that although he had been separated from his guru maharaja for so many years, he did not feel that they were apart, because he was connected to his guru maharaja by service, by following his instructions. “I have written in the first publication of Ärîmad-Bhagavatam, ‘The spiritual master lives forever by his divine instruction and the disciple lives with him.’ Because I have always served my guru maharaja and followed his teachings, I am even now never separated from him. Sometimes maya may come and try to interfere, but we must not falter. We must always follow the chalked-out path laid down by the great acaryas, and in the end you will see.” (SP letter, November 25, 1973)

In general, we need the association of devotees to be happy. But among so many devotees, we may have a special relationship with a particular devotee, like Raghunatha dasa Gosvami had with Rupa Gosvami. Then even in the association of other devotees we may feel separation from that one particular devotee with whom we have that special relationship. But even that separation can be reconciled through service.

There are two ways of association–by vani and by vapuh. Vani means words, and vapuh means physical presence. Physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not, but vani continues to exist eternally. Therefore we must take advantage of the vani.” (Cc Concluding Words) Further, by following the instructions of the spiritual master and previous acaryas, we become eligible to go back home, back to Godhead. And in the end we all will meet in the spiritual world, in service to Krsna. As Ärîla Prabhupâda said, “We will have another ISKCON in the spiritual sky.”

Sometimes, because we are still affected by the bodily concept of life, we don’t see each other from the purely spiritual point of view. But we should try to see the good qualities and service of the devotees–and see ourselves as their servants. In pure devotional service, we want only to serve and please Krsna and His devotees. Although Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, jivera ‘svarupa’ haya–krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’–we are the eternal servants of Krsna–He stated further, gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah: “I am the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Krsna”–not directly the servant.

Once, when there was some dissension or disagreement among the devotees, a disciple asked Ärîla Prabhupâda, “What can we do to improve our relationships?” And Ärîla Prabhupâda replied, “If each devotee thinks, ‘I am the servant of the servants, there will be no problem.’” Unfortunately, if we still have that conditioning that we want to be the master, we may want the other devotees to serve us and give us what we want. But gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah; we are servants of the servants of the servants of Krsna. We place no demands on our masters–that is not pure devotional service.

After Nrsimhadeva killed Hiranyakasipu, He offered Prahlada, “You take any benediction you want.” And Prahlada replied, “I don’t want anything from You. By constitution You are my master, and by constitution I am Your servant. We have no other relationship. If I wanted something from You in exchange for my service, I would not be a servant. I would be a businessman. I do not want to do business with You, to take some reward from You in return for my service.” He said, “If a servant does service to get something in return, he is not a real servant, and if a master gives something in return in order to maintain his prestigious position as master, he is not a real master.” A real master doesn’t give anything except pure devotional service–more service. And a real servant doesn’t ask for anything except more service. That is the only exchange–nothing else.

Prahlada said to Nrsimhadeva, yas ta asisa asaste na sa bhrtyah sa vai vanik: “One who desires some material benefit in exchange for devotional service cannot be Your pure devotee. Indeed, he is no better than a merchant who wants profit in exchange for service.” (SB 7.10.4)

asasano na vai bhrtyah

svaminy asisa atmanah

na svami bhrtyatah svamyam

icchan yo rati casisah

A servant who desires material profits from his master is certainly not a qualified servant or pure devotee. Similarly, a master who bestows benedictions upon his servant because of a desire to maintain a prestigious position as master is also not a pure master.

aham tv akamas tvad-bhaktas

tvam ca svamy anapasrayah

nanyathehavayor artho

raja-sevakayor iva

O my Lord, I am Your unmotivated servant, and You are my eternal master. There is no need of our being anything other than master and servant. You are naturally my master, and I am naturally Your servant. We have no other relationship.” (SB 7.10.5-6)

In the mood of pure devotional service, our relationships are very congenial, with Krsna in the center. In the bodily concept, each one of us wants to be the center. I keep myself in the center–”I,” “me,” and “mine.” In the spiritual concept of pure devotional service, Krsna is the center and we all are His servants, but not direct servants–servants of the servants. When we serve in that mood of pure devotion, Krsna is pleased and His servants are pleased–everyone is pleased. And each of us automatically becomes happy and satisfied. We just have to keep Krsna in the center; then everything else will follow.

yatra yogesvarah krsno

yatra partho dhanur-dharah

tatra srir vijayo bhutir

dhruva nitir matir mama

Wherever there is Krsna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.” (Bg 18.78)

Hare Krsna.

Are there any questions or comments?

Maha-sakti dasa: Going back to the earlier part of your lecture, about Prabhupâda in the early days, his mission was to destroy impersonalism and voidism (nirvisesa sunyavadi). Back then many of us were hippies and were into the idea of satiating our senses. And Prabhupâda was talking about these impersonalists, who were trying to merge and refrain from desire. We were wondering, “Who is he talking about? Maybe they are in India, but in America we don’t have that experience.” In America back then everyone was into enjoying their senses and sense gratification, especially with free love. And that hasn’t changed much. In the New Age movement there is a big emphasis on not repressing your senses. “Engage your senses. Don’t restrain them, because that is artificial. Engage them, because that is the real path to understanding who you are and attaining happiness.”

I guess the question pertains to some degree to ourselves as devotees, because although there’s no ambiguity about the process, there may be a moment when we start to feel unhappy or unfulfilled–”Devotees are not giving me what I want.” So how do we live a healthy, happy spiritual life without feeling “I am not getting what I want; I am feeling repressed,” and anger and so many things coming up in the mind–lust, anger, and different things? How do we grow as a society and attract new people, show that this is the right way of life and that one can be happy at the same time?

Giriraj Swami: Do you have any ideas? I am sure you must have thought about it.

Maha-sakti dasa: I know that this is the right path. We may just need to learn how to relate to Vaisnavas more in the right way. In a sense, we are very new, and maybe we haven’t yet learned how to be a Vaisnava society. Rupa Gosvami talks about revealing one’s mind and that kind of thing, and if we did that more, our mood might be a little more joyful. We would enjoy our service more. So maybe it is a matter of time–and continuing the preaching spirit. I don’t know.

In reality, we are not repressing our senses at all. We are really engaging our senses. With constant festivals we are constantly glorifying devotees and different incarnations of Krsna, and we are always taking prasada. So there is no question of repression. But still there is the problem that lies within. There is the residual karma that seems to bother us, and that is the question–how devotees can deal with that within the society and not feel that they have to go outside in order to take care of that issue.

Giriraj Swami: Somehow I think of late 1969 or early ’70 in the Boston temple. Tamal Krishna Goswami had come for the first time. He was a legend from the West Coast, and Brahmananda Prabhu from New York, who was the legend on the East Coast, drove up to meet him. In the evening, after we had a little prasada–perhaps hot milk and puffed rice with peanuts–we were all standing in line to wash our plates in the sink, and Brahmananda Prabhu said to Tamal Krishna Goswami, “Everyone wants love, so if we just love each other everyone will get what he wants and everyone will be happy.” It sounded logical and sensible–and true.

To really love someone, however, one must be pure. Otherwise, what passes as love, as Ärîla Prabhupâda said, is actually lust. For example, a boy tells a girl, “I love you,” and the girl tells the boy, “I love you,” but actually it is not love. It is lust. And if either partner does not get from the other what he or she wants, the relationship breaks. When we become more advanced, more pure in heart, we can actually serve with love. Love isn’t just a sentiment. It is a process that manifests in service. And to cleanse the heart (ceto-darpana-marjanam), we have the chanting of the holy name, offenseless chanting of the holy name. That will cleanse the heart, and that will create the type of relationships that we want.

We want a culture of service, vaisnava-seva. Even before love develops, we can create a culture of service and follow Vaisnava etiquette. Proper etiquette guides our relationships and makes our interactions more congenial. In Vedic culture peoples’ roles are defined, and the behavior appropriate to each role is defined–how to relate to others. It was mentioned in the quotation in the purport that one who does not serve a superior is a most unhappy person. In essence, there are three different relationships–a subordinate to a superior, an equal to an equal, and a superior to a subordinate. A subordinate should sincerely serve a superior, the superior should affectionately guide the subordinate, and equals should be friends. And we should carefully avoid the contaminated forms of those relationships, in which the subordinate is envious of the superior; the superior exploits the subordinate; or the equals, instead of having genuine, open friendship, feel proud of themselves.

So we want a culture of selfless service and etiquette. Ärîla Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that there are different levels of conversion. The first level is spiritual or religious, but the cultural level may take longer. Devotees may quickly grasp the fundamental spiritual principles–”I am the eternal servant of Krsna”–but it may take longer to understand and adopt the culture of service. And it has become even more difficult now, because the sublime culture that existed in India is rapidly deteriorating, with so much influence from the West. And the Indians who come to the West become further influenced by Western ways. So we do not see the Vedic or Vaisnava culture in practice as much as before.

We are in Kali-yuga, and it is getting worse. But we need that Vaisnava culture, and we need spiritual purity. The main thing is purity of heart, and that comes from the process of devotional service, especially from offenseless chanting and hearing about Krsna and serving Krsna’s devotees.

kaler dosa-nidhe rajann

asti hy eko mahan gunah

kirtanad eva krsnasya

mukta-sangah param vrajet

My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.” (SB 12.3.51)

Maha-sakti dasa: And reading, too, is important. We have been reading today.

Giriraj Swami: Indeed. Reading, which comes in the category of hearing, teaches us who we are, who Krsna is, what the material world is, what the spiritual world is, and what our relationships are. It teaches us what the goal of life is and how to attain it. Reading is most important, and Ärîla Prabhupâda advised that we should read for one or two hours every day.

We are in the age of Kali. Kali means “quarrel.” In the age of Kali people quarrel over the smallest thing. They make such a big thing out of a small thing.

Practically, I always feel that there are two things that can help devotees appreciate other devotees. The first is preaching. When you go out and meet people, you see the difference between the people you meet and the devotees, and you appreciate devotees more. Unfortunately, in some places devotees don’t preach so much anymore. Most are grhasthas who live outside of temples, and not many are actively preaching. But if you go out and meet people and speak to them–and see what kind of reactions you get, what kind of people you are dealing with–you come to appreciate devotees more. Otherwise, familiarity can breed contempt.

The other way is to be separated from devotees for some time. You may end up in the beautiful Knysna forest without devotees. Then you appreciate devotees.

It is very important that we have good relationships. If we have strong sadhana–hearing and chanting–and loving relationships, we will grow and prosper. But if our relationships are poor and our sadhana is weak, we will tend to disintegrate.

Devotees are very nice. Sometimes we have to speak critically to distinguish between the devotional creeper and the unwanted weeds, so we can grow and flourish. Otherwise, devotees are chanting, and they are serving. They are the best people in the world.

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