An Appreciation of the Documentary
"The Universal Teacher"
Submitted by Syamarani dasi
"The Universal Teacher," a documentary on the life and teachings of
The efforts of His Holiness B.G. Narasingha Maharaja and Devavision to glorify the Lord and His pure devotee are praiseworthy. He and his team have shared with the world so many of Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura’s pastimes, associates, books, articles and other details of his life, in a format which is at once pleasant, entertaining and informative. The statements of caution concerning higher topics are both deeply appreciated and essential to the healthy functioning of our Vaisnava community.
Of course, no presentation can ever be complete, and every scriptwriter
faces the dilemma of having to be selective in his/her presentation. In
the process, certain issues are inevitably privileged and others
marginalized. With this in mind, we would like to present another side
"The Universal Teacher" documentary shows photos of
1. "Unlike other,
so-called gurus and siddha-purusas of his time,
matala hari-jane visaya range
pujala raga patha gaurava
[click here for translation]
'Always worship the path
of raga-marga, spontaneous devotion. Do not rush ahead. Keep yourself a
little distant and below. One who transgresses these instructions will
be cast down. That was the motto of
4. A full-screen display
of the cover of Srila Narayana Maharaja's translation and commentary on
The above statements from the documentary might be prone to
misinterpretation. An attempt is made herein, to posit a broader context
for those statements than the restrictive format of a documentary for
general public release would normally allow. An investigation into the
documentary’s suppressed themes will surely enhance the faithful
reader's conception of
For the readers' ease, in the following article our writing will be in bold letters; the statements of the documentary will be in italics; the references in the form of quotes, articles and discourses given as the Appreciations and Response to the documentary statements will be in normal text.
Documentary Statement 1
other, so-called gurus and siddha-purusas of his time,
The ultimate intention of the acaryas is, of course, not to confuse
us but to convince us that the higher topics should never be taken
lightly, cheaply or independently. Rather, they should be received with
nothing less than the utmost respect. As Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada has clearly remarked (Dec. 24, 1969), caution is one thing
but "it is not that we have taken a vow to boycott the gopis."
A. Srila Sarasvati Thakura supported proper hearing of Rasa-lila
Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura did not forbid his highly qualified disciples to speak, or to hear Rasa-lila from other bona fide devotees. He must have forbidden beginners, especially from discussing independently. However, he could not have made a blanket statement, prohibiting for all time his disciples from hearing appropriately and from the right source.
The following is an excerpt from
"All these days we have not spoken about
"I know that you are not ready to hear it, but we should know that such a transcendental ideal exists within the realm of devotion. Beyond the realm of anartha-nivrtti is artha-pravrtti, pure conjugal service to Radha and Krsna. This is transcendental reality. If we do not know of this transcendental realm, all of our efforts may end in nirvisesa-vada (impersonalism). Do not let your day pass in simply trying for anartha-nivrtti. Artha-pravrtti is also necessary. Anartha-nivrtti is necessary until artha-pravrtti has started. When artha-pravrtti is present, anartha-nivrtti becomes unimportant and artha-pravrtti becomes prominent.
"Those who have chanted harinama for fifteen or twenty years should know such things. The beginners need not hear these topics or they will misunderstand. These topics are for certain audiences, not for all. Also it is said, 'apana bhajana-katha, na kahibe jathatatha.' One should not reveal one’s bhajana to others.' If we disregard this instruction of our previous acaryas, there may be a permanent fall from the realm of devotional service.
"By removing the clothes of the gopis,
"Our duty is to cultivate devotional service. Do not think that
asta-kaliya-lila smaranam is the property of the sahajiyas. Actually it
is our affair. We must retrieve it from the hands of the sahajiyas. Our
Hankering for Perfection
The following is an article translated for "The Harmonist" magazine (2005) from the weekly "Gaudiya", Vol. 11, No. 14 (November 12, 1932):
"In 1932 in the month of Kartika, the
hari hari! kabe haba vrndavana-vasi
radha-krsna sevon mui jivane marane
I shall serve
Prarthana (Song 48)
hari hari ara kabe palatibe dasa
ei saba kariya bame, aba vrndavana dhame,
ei mane kariyachi asa
Prarthana (Song 47)
dekhite dekhite, bhuliba va kabe,
nayane heriba, vraja-pura-sobha,
When will I see that I
have forgotten my gross bodily identity and am beholding the exquisite
beauty of Vraja, full of eternal, spiritual bliss and cognizance.
vrsabhanu-pure, janama laiba, yavate vivaha ha’be
vraja-gopi-bhava, haibe svabhava, ana bhava na rahibe
shall take birth in Vrsabhanu Maharaja’s town and will marry in the
nija-siddha-deha, nija-siddha-nama, nija-rupa sva vasana
radha-krpa-bale, labhiba va kabe, krsna-prema-prakarana
When will I obtain, by the power of Radha’s mercy, my own eternal spiritual body, my own realized name and dress embellishing my real form? And when will I receive initiation into the techniques of expressing divine love for Krsna?
yamuna-salila-aharane giya, bujhibo yugala-rasa
prema-mugdha ha’ye, pagalini-praya, gaiba radhara yasa
go to draw water from the Yamuna, I will understand the confidential
mellows of Yugala-Kisora’s loving affairs. Being captivated by prema, I
Gita-mala (Part 5, Song 2)
A small cottage in a grove on the banks of Radha-kunda, Govardhana Hill, the banks of the Yamuna...
Saranagati (Svikara, Song
(ami) yamuna-puline, kadamba-kanane,
ki herinu sakhi! aja
(amar) syama vamsi-dhari, mani-mancopari,
kare’ lila rasa-raja…
O sakhi, what did I see today! In a kadamba grove on the bank of the Yamuna, a beautiful blackish boy holding a flute was standing on a jeweled platform, performing pastimes as Rasaraja, the monarch of all transcendental mellows...
"At on 8 October, at the end of a grand festival with
B. He wanted his highly qualified disciples to inform the world about Rasa-lila in an appropriate way
Srila Sarasvati Thakura certainly forbade some beginners from hearing
about Rasa-lila, but his order could not have been for all devotees. For
example, one of his most renowned disciples is our diksa-guru, Srila
Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. Our
Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja wrote a summary study of
the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, called "Krsna, the Supreme
Personality of Godhead." In that summary-study there are six chapters
concerning the amorous pastimes of
It could not have been a fact that
C. His most renowned preacher supports appropriate hearing of Rasa-lila
The following are some quotes from Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami
Maharaja's translations and purports of Srimad-Bhagavatam and
"Discussion of the Rasa-lila among people in general is not recommended
because they are affected by the Mayavada philosophy, but if one who is
advanced explains and people hear from him, certainly the hearers will
be gradually elevated to the position of Krsna consciousness and
liberated from materially contaminated life….Sukadeva Gosvami concludes
this episode of Rasa-lila by pointing out that if a person hears from
the right source the pastimes of Krsna, who is Visnu Himself, and the
gopis, who are expansions of His energy, then he will be relieved from
the most dangerous type of disease, namely lust. In other words, one who
actually hears the Rasa-lila will become completely freed from the lusty
desire of sex life and elevated to the highest level of spiritual
understanding." (Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Chapter 33)
"But even though ordinary hearers of Srimad-Bhagavatam do not know the deep significance of Krsna’s Rasa-lila, because they hear about Krsna’s pastimes they become purified. And if they hear from authorized sources, they will be promoted to the transcendental devotional platform. The disease within the heart is lust, the desire to enjoy, and by hearing from authorized sources about Krsna’s pastimes of loving exchanges with the gopis, the deep-rooted lusty desires in the heart will be completely eradicated.
"Unfortunately, most people do not hear the Srimad-Bhagavatam from
authoritative sources. They hear only from professional reciters.
Therefore they remain materially diseased, full of lusty desires. Some
become sahajiya, pretending to be Krsna and Radharani and Her gopi
friends. In this way they behave as if they were the supreme enjoyer."
(A Second Chance, Chapter 16)
"The conditioned soul should hear the Rasa-lila dance from an authorized spiritual master and be trained by him so that he can understand the whole situation. Thus one can be elevated to the highest standard of spiritual life; otherwise one will be implicated. Material lust is a kind of heart disease, and to cure the material heart disease of the conditioned soul, it is recommended that one should hear, but not from the impersonalist rascals. If one hears from the right sources with right understanding, then his situation will be different." (Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Chapter 33)
"The Lord is so merciful that He Himself descends to take the fallen
souls back home to the
"The specific attraction of His pastimes with the gopis should never be
misunderstood. The Bhagavatam relates these transcendental pastimes in
the Tenth Canto. And in order to reach the position to understand the
transcendental nature of
anugrahaya bhaktanam manusam deham asthitah
bhajate tadrsih krida yah
srutva tat-paro bhavet
"Krsna manifests His
eternal, human-like form and performs His pastimes to show mercy to the
devotees. Having heard such pastimes, one should engage in service to
In his purport
to this verse,
"…The rasa dance is arranged by Krsna’s internal potency yogamaya, and
it is beyond the grasp of the materially affected person. Trying to
throw mud into transcendence with their perversity, the sahajiyas
misinterpret the sayings tat-paratvena nirmalam and tat-paro bhavet. By
misinterpreting tadrsih kridah, they want to indulge in sex while
pretending to imitate
rupa-raghunatha-pade hoibe akuti
"'When I shall be eager to understand the literature given by the Gosvamis, then I shall be able to understand the transcendental love affairs of Radha and Krsna.'
"In other words, unless one is trained under the disciplic succession of
the Gosvamis, one cannot understand Radha and Krsna…"
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 4.34, Purport)
the above purport, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes that
one must hear these transcendental subjects, but not from those who will
misinterpret. He translates the next verse, as follows:
the use of the verb 'bhavet,' which is in the imperative mood, tells us
that this certainly must be done. Noncompliance would be abandonment of
duty." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 4.35, Purport)
D. He taught: Do hear; don't imitate
not be misled by mental concoctions, supposing his material body to be
perfect and deeming oneself a sakhi. This is something like
ahangrahopasana, that is, a Mayavadi's worship of his own body as the
Supreme. Srila Jiva Gosvami has cautioned mundaners to abstain from such
conceptions. He also warns that thinking oneself one of the associates
of the Supreme without following in the footsteps of the gopis is as
offensive as thinking oneself the Supreme. Such thinking is an aparadha.
One has to practice living in Vrndavana by hearing about the talks of
the gopis with Krsna. However, one should not consider himself a gopi,
for this is offensive." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 8.204-5
Srila Sukadeva Gosvami told Maharaja Pariksit
naitat samacarej jatu manasapi hy anisvarah
vinasyaty acaran maudhyad
yatha 'rudro 'bdhijam visam
"In other words, those who
are not isvara, the Supreme Lord, who are powerless and subjected to
karma, should never imitate the Lord’s pastimes even within their minds.
If anyone foolishly imitates Lord Siva by drinking the poison generated
from the ocean, he will certainly be destroyed."
the Introduction to his translation and commentary of Venu-gita, Srila
Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja summarizes the commentaries of
"The gist of Srila Jiva Gosvami’s and Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s commentaries on this verse is that living entities who are subservient to the material body and who are anisvara – bereft of the controlling potency of the Supreme Lord – should never behave in such a way even within their minds. What to speak of actually performing such activities, one should not even desire to do so. In other words, such acts performed by God in transgression of religious codes should not be contemplated even within the mind...
"Here in this verse, imitation of such behavior has been prohibited, yet
in the verse to come (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.33.36.) – Yah srutva tat-paro
bhavet – it is evident that not only devotees but even others who
faithfully hear these pastimes will become fully devoted to the Supreme
Lord. This has been further explained in the verse from
E. His authorities comment on hearing Rasa-lila
Gosvami, who is one of the worshipful siksa-gurus of
"The words anugrahaya bhaktanam manusam deham asthitah indicate that the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna appears in His original human-like form and performs various pastimes in order to bestow favor upon His devotees.
"The words manusam deham asthitah may also indicate that those jivas who have attained the human form of life are able to hear all these pastimes, and thus they become exclusively devoted to the Supreme Lord. This is so because the Lord incarnates exclusively on the earthly planets (martya-loka), and it is here only that worship of the Lord takes on its predominant form. Consequently, the human beings residing on the earthly planets may easily hear these narrations of the Lord’s pastimes.
"The word bhaktanam appears in this verse. But in some other editions, the word bhutanam is found in its place. In that case, the purport would be as follows: the Lord incarnates only for the sake of the devotees. As a result, the devotees are the root cause of the Lord’s appearance. The Lord also appears in His original human-like form in order to bestow His favor upon the liberated souls (muktas), the aspirants for liberation (mumuksus), sense enjoyers (visayis), and all living entities in accordance with their relationship with the devotees.
"The Lord’s compassion is therefore said to be the cause of His appearance. Nevertheless, it must be understood that the Lord’s favor toward other living entities is due only to their relationship with His devotees. In other words, the Lord bestows favor upon jivas only because of their connection with devotees." (Venu-gita, Introduction, Srila Narayana Maharaja)
Regarding the same verse (10.33.36) beginning 'anugrahaya bhaktanam',
"The Lord performs varieties of pastimes to show favor to His devotees. Having adopted the human form of life, living entities who hear these pastimes become exclusively devoted unto the Lord. In other words, they develop firm faith in hearing the narrations of the Lord’s activities. What more shall I say about the importance of hearing lila-katha?
"And this Rasa-lila, being fully imbued with madhurya-rasa, is eminently
distinguished even from the Lord’s other pastimes. Like a jewel, a
mantra, or a powerful medicine, this Rasa-lila is endowed with such
indisputable, astonishing potency that by hearing it, all persons in the
human form become devoted to the Supreme Lord. Therefore all varieties
of devotees who hear the descriptions of these pastimes will be
successful and obtain supreme pleasure. Can there be any question of
doubt in this regard?" (Venu-gita, Introduction, Srila Narayana
vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca visnoh
sraddhanvito 'nusrnuyad atha varnayed yah
bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam
hrd-rogam asv apahinoty
"A transcendentally sober
person who, with faith and love continuously hears from a realized soul
about the activities of Lord Krsna in His rasa dance with the gopis, or
one who describes such activities, can attain full transcendental
devotional service at the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of
Godhead. Thus lusty material desires, which are the heart disease of all
materialistic persons, are for him quickly and completely vanquished."
Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja comments on this verse:
actually, sastra says if one hears Rasa-lila, then lusty desires will be
finished: vikriditam idam ca visnoh vraja-vadhubhir…hrd-rogam asv
apahinoty acirena dhirah. That is the result. If one actually hears from
the right source, then this lusty desire of sex life will be finished.
No more." (Room Conversation, Vrndavana, September 11, 1974)
"…ktva pratyayena hrd-rogavaty apy adhikarini pratham ataeva premnah pravesas tatas tat prabhavenaivacirato hrd roga nasa iti premayam jnana yoga iva na durlabha paratantras ceti bhavah….
"…The suffix ktva has been used in the formation of the verb pratilabhya (obtained) as follows: prati + labh + ktva. According to the rules of Sanskrit grammar, when the suffix ktva is applied to a verbal root with a prefix, it is replaced by yap. Then the letter 'p' is dropped and thus the final form of the word 'pratilabhya' is obtained. The suffix ktva is applied to the first of the two verbs performed by the same agent to show successive action (i.e., having attained prema he relinquishes all lusty desires in the heart). In this case the first action is pratilabhya (the attainment of prema) and the second action is apahinoti (renunciation of lusty desires of the heart).
"Therefore the suffix ktva in the verb pratilabhya indicates that although lust and other evils still remain within the heart, prema-bhakti first enters the heart and, by its extraordinary influence, destroys all vices to the root. In other words, hearing and reciting Rasa-lila possesses such astonishing power that the lust in the heart of the faithful sadhaka is destroyed and he attains prema. Though these two take place simultaneously, the influence of prema manifests first, and through its effect, all lusty desires of the heart are dissipated.
"Thus, as a result of hearing and chanting the narrations of the Lord’s pastimes, one first attains prema for the Lord’s lotus feet and thereafter one’s heart is liberated from lusty desires and all other contamination. In other words he becomes perfectly pure, because prema is not feeble like the process of jnana and yoga. Bhakti is omnipotent and supremely independent." (Venu-gita, Introduction, Srila Narayana Maharaja)
Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada states that the listener can be
bona fide, even with lusty desires still in his heart:
"If a bona fide listener hears of Krsna’s pastimes with the gopis, which
seem to be lusty affairs, the lusty desires in his heart, which
constitute the heart disease of the conditioned soul, will be
vanquished, and he will become a most exalted devotee of the Lord."
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.1.30 purport)
"And bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya
"The pleasure potency is called
G. Atheists do not believe in
"The word dhira means pandita, or one who is learned in the sastra. One who refuses to accept the claim of this verse and thinks, 'As long as the disease of lust remains in the heart, prema cannot be obtained,' is said to possess an atheistic temperament. One who is free from such a foolish, atheistic demeanor is known as pandita or sober person (dhira). Consequently, only those who have firm faith in the sastra are known as dhira. Those who have no faith in the statements of the sastra are atheistic and offenders to the holy name. Such persons can never attain prema.
"Therefore, only faithful sadhakas with firm belief in the statements of
sastra, Guru and Vaisnavas are eligible to hear the lila-katha of
Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is saturated with rasa. And conversely, those
who believe that only sadhakas who are completely free from all anarthas
are eligible to hear the above-mentioned pastimes, will neither become
free from anarthas nor obtain eligibility to hear – even after millions
of births." (Venu-gita, Introduction, Srila Narayana Maharaja)
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja comments as follows in the
Introduction to his translation of Venu-gita:
"Consequently, in the heart of the sadhakas who firmly believe in the
statements of the sastra, faith arises by hearing Rasa-lila and other
narrations. Only in the hearts of such faithful devotees does prema
manifest its influence as a result of hearing lila-katha. Thereafter,
lust and all evils present within the heart of the devotees are
destroyed to the root."
The Introduction continues:
"….Another point to consider is that if this argument is accepted (that
one has to be free of anarthas before hearing lila-katha), then we
sadhakas who are still affected by anarthas, although possessing faith,
could never read nor hear the sacred books of rasika Gaudiya Vaisnava
acaryas like Srila Sanatana Gosvami, Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Under such
a circumstance, we would be forever deprived of the extremely
confidential and elevated truths of bhakti expressed by these acaryas.
There would be no possibility that the sprout of greed for
raganuga-bhakti would ever be awakened in our hearts. Thus we would be
forever cheated from that which was not previously given, the prema-rasa
of the most munificent
Self-realized Gurus are the asraya-vigraha manifestations of Lord Krsna
Himself. Therefore they have the power and right to know to whom to
speak. In 1968, in Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s lecture to
relatively new devotees on the appearance day of Srimati Radharani, he
spoke about the Lord’s pleasure potency:
"So we have described about the Radha-Krsna loving affairs in our
Teachings of Lord Caitanya in page 264. If you have got this book, you
can read it, how the reciprocation of loving affairs of Radha-Krsna is
I. Who will say not to hear?
The following is
an excerpt from a lecture given by Srila Narayana Maharaja in
"There are four ways to tell others not to read Tenth Canto. The first
is in ignorance. Elevated and high-class devotees know all the reasons
"Good devotees know everything, and they may tell you in the second way: 'You should begin from the First Canto, then the Second, the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and thus you can go there.'
"The third way is to cleverly create curiosity. How will they do so? They will say: 'What is in my hands? Can you tell me what I have in my hands?' Others then become curious to know. If anyone tells you: 'Do not read the Tenth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam!' this curiosity may come automatically: 'What is there? I should know that!' In order to increase others' curiosity to hear and read Srimad-Bhagavatam, devotees speak like this.
"In the fourth way the speaker is speaking exactly the opposite of what he means. When Srila Rupa Gosvami writes, 'Don't go to the banks of the Jamuna where Govinda is sweetly playing on His flute, because then you'll forget all about your society, friendship and love,' he means, 'Do go.' For all these reasons, devotees tell these things.
"There was a devotee in my village who used to go to the
"If anyone is telling that you should not read the Srimad-Bhagavatam, there should be a curiosity to know what is inside: 'There must be some jewel there.'
"Without hearing and reading, especially without hearing the Tenth Canto Srimad-Bhagavatam, you cannot decide the aim and object of your devotional life. On the other hand, by hearing the Tenth Canto, greed may come to attain that object."
Documentary Statement 2
However, to postulate that an acarya would banish all of his followers forever from their spiritual inheritance is obviously a misinterpretation.
'O Radha, all directions are covered by dense and ominous clouds. The
forest floor has been cast into darkness by the shadows of blackish
tamala trees. Krsna is naturally timid. He cannot be alone at night, so
take Him home with You.' Sri Radha turned Her face towards the bower of
desire trees beside the forest path and, bewildered by intense joy, She
honored the words of her friend. When She arrived on the bank of the
May the sweetness of this confidential pastime of the Divine Couple be
victorious by manifesting in the hearts of the devotees.
B. He wanted the world to properly understand sacred amour
"The sexual principle is a misunderstood symbol of Reality. It can no more be banished from our consciousness than consciousness itself. The male and female forms are also not the sole and distinctive possessions of this world. There is Reality behind them as well. The soul has a body which is symbolized by the female form and which is absolutely free from any unwholesome material association.
"The ascetic’s repugnance to the female form prevents an unprejudiced examination of the female sex that is a necessary factor of our conception of amorous love. This amorous love is the highest subject of human poetry and the most powerful factor in all human activities. Its worthlessness is not established by refusing to recognize it as a part of our nature. It would be much more to the purpose to try to understand what it really is. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is the only book that answers this all-important question.
"The worship of
"Spiritual amour is the highest service to Divinity in His most complete manifestation. The real Nature of Divine Personality can never be fully understood by those who are unable to appreciate the pre-eminent excellence of His service by amorous love.
"…The Personality of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is identical with and yet
"The perfect chant of the Name of Krsna is available to all souls, and
it is identical with the amorous service of the spiritual milkmaids of
Vraja. This is the sum and substance of the teachings of
"But although the Srimad-Bhagavatam mentions the above incident, the
subject is not further developed in that work. This has been explained
by the Gosvamis of Vrndavana, the apostles of
"This explanation offered by the Gosvamis is not opposed to the open
treatment of the same subject by
C. From the Introduction to Srila
Narayana Maharaja's translation and commentary of
Eligibility for reading Gita-govinda
"To read a great literary work and understand it in terms of etymology is one type of experience, but to appreciate the profound sentiments by which one is truly acquainted with the work is a different experience entirely. Comprehension of the literal meaning of words is generally a simple affair, whereas assimilation of their underlying emotional significance is not so easy. It is impossible for one who is not qualified to read a particular text to accept its internal mood (bhavartha). Therefore all ancient scriptures traditionally begin by defining the specific parameters of eligibility for their prospective readers.
"Some deeply realized authors have strictly forbidden unqualified persons to study their compositions and have even pronounced curses upon those who might dare to delve into subjects beyond their comprehension. What is the need for such strict prohibitions? The necessity arises because unqualified persons who read esoteric texts inevitably misinterpret them. Thereby, potential benefits are replaced by ill effects upon themselves and others.
"How many people can understand the depth of
"The Vaisnava poets take up their pens simply for the sake of
instructing us about the glories of self-effacing, transcendental love.
The lion amongst poets,
"On realizing this, Sri Jayadeva Gosvami was greatly perturbed. 'How can
I make these words come from the mouth of
"…Even amongst these great compositions, the excellence of
"…The pastimes of Radhika and Krsna are the transcendental loving play
of the Omnipotent Divinity and His potency (Saktiman and Sakti). They
have the power to sanctify the whole world because they are completely
free from even the slightest trace of lust. One should make a diligent
study of these pastimes, as such study constitutes one of the limbs of
bhakti-yoga. Although many devotees are conversant with this conclusion,
"The readers of
"…Svayam Bhagavan Sri Krsna has instructed His intimate devotee, Arjuna, about the eligibility and ineligibility to hear and speak Srimad Bhagavad-gita in its eighteenth chapter, verses 67 and 68: 'Do not speak about this confidential knowledge and realization to those unqualified persons who have no faith and who are not engaged in pure devotion to Me. One who explains the supreme mystery of my Gita to the faithful devotees is sure to attain pure devotion and in the end he will come to Me.'
"In these verses,
The Substance of Sri Gita-govinda
Practical Realization of
"It is not by chance that
tasmad gurum prapadyeta
jijnasuh sreya uttamam
sabde pare ca nisnatam
"'To know the Absolute
Truth, one must take shelter of a perfect Guru who is fixed in devotion
to the Absolute.' When
manusam deham asthitah
bhajate tadrsih krida
yah srutva tat-paro bhavet'
"Now I will tell you about this confidential methodology. The kunja-lila
or Rasa-lila of
for a slight trace of the mercy of
The narrator of the documentary stated, "
In his book "Prakrta-rasa
will never doubt the words of our worshipable superior Srila Bhakti
Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja. Srila Sridhara Maharaja must certainly have
said this for beginners. His words to them are sanguine and in accord
with all our acaryas. But he would never have contradicted
Srila Narayana Maharaja commented on
How will people come to understand?
"At the time of writing
esoteric and confidential conclusions regarding the amorous pastimes of
Rasaraja Sri Krsna and the gopis, who are the embodiments of mahabhava,
are not fit to be disclosed to the common ordinary man. But if they are
not revealed, no one can enter into this topic. I shall therefore
describe these topics in a concealed manner, so that only rasika-bhaktas
will be able to understand them, whereas ineligible fools will not.
Anyone who has established
always inappropriate to reveal confidential vraja-rasa topics before
general people. However, there is every possibility that this sacred
mystery will disappear if it is not thoroughly explained. Although neem
and mango trees may be present together in the same garden, a crow will
sit on a neem tree and taste its bitter fruits, whereas the cuckoo, who
has discriminating taste, will sit on the mango tree and savor its sweet
sprouts and blossoms. Consequently, it is proper to present
rasa-vicara." (Sri Jaiva-Dharma, Preface,
"In Gita-govinda there is a verse which states that the enemy of Kamsa,
Krsna, also wanted to be entangled in love affairs with women and thus
simply took Radharani away and left the company of the other damsels of
Vraja. Krsna was very much afflicted by Radharani's absence and, being
thus mentally distressed, began to search Her out along the banks of the
Yamuna. Failing to find Her, He entered the bushes of Vrndavana and
began to lament.
"Although there were many gopis to dance with Krsna, Krsna especially
wanted to dance with Radharani. In the rasa dance Krsna expanded Himself
and placed Himself between every two gopis, but He was especially
present with Radharani. However, Radharani was not pleased with Krsna's
behavior. As described in Ujjvala-nilamani: 'The path of loving affairs
is just like the movement of a snake. Amongst young lovers, there are
two kinds of mentality – causeless and causal.' Thus when Radharani left
the area of the rasa dance out of anger at not receiving special
treatment, Krsna became very sorrowful to see Her absent. The perfection
of the rasa dance was considered to be complete due to Radharani's
presence, and in Her absence Krsna considered the dance to be disrupted.
Therefore He left the arena to search Her out. When He could not find
Radharani after wandering in several places, He became very distressed.
Thus it is understood that Krsna could not enjoy His pleasure potency
even in the midst of all the gopis. But in the presence of Radharani He
was satisfied." (Teachings of
"Krsna is so beautiful, transcendental and attractive that He sometimes
attracts even Himself. The following verse appears in Gita-govinda
(1.11): 'My dear friend, just see how Krsna is enjoying His
transcendental pastimes in the spring by expanding the beauty of His
personal body. His soft legs and hands, just like the most beautiful
moon, are used on the bodies of the gopis. When He embraces different
parts of their bodies, He is so beautiful. Krsna is so beautiful that He
attracts even Narayana, as well as the goddess of fortune who associates
with Narayana.'" (Teachings of
"A similar statement can be found in Gita-govinda, wherein it is said
that when the enemy of Kamsa, Sri Krsna, embraces Srimati Radharani, He
immediately becomes entangled in a loving condition and gives up the
company of all other gopis." (Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 44)
"As far as mana, or anger, is concerned, there is the following incident
described in Gita-govinda: 'When Srimati Radharani saw Krsna enjoying
Himself in the company of several other gopis, She became a little
jealous because Her special prestige was being dimmed. Therefore, She
immediately left the scene and took shelter in a nice flower bush where
the black drones were humming.'" (Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 44)
In addition to translating and purporting the quotes from
Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja has given the world his
translations and purports of
As previously mentioned, Srila Sridhara Maharaja would never have quoted
his Guru Maharaja in a blanket statement for all, or for all time, in
saying that he forbade all his disciples to read or discuss "even
certain portions of Caitanya-caritamrta wherein the lila of Radha-Krsna
are discussed." One point to note is that
The following is some of our Prabhupada's translations from
Caitanya-caritamrta regarding rahasya-lila,
they preferred to take the lotus feet of the Lord and place them on
their breasts. Sometimes they regretted that their breasts were so hard,
fearing that Krsna might not be very pleased to keep His soft lotus feet
there." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 13.136 purport)
Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, 'O wife of the deer, Lord Krsna has been
embracing Srimati Radharani, and the kunkuma powder on Her breasts has
mixed with the garland of kunda flowers decorating His body. The
fragrance of the garland has scented the entire atmosphere.'"
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 15.47)
two very beautiful arms of Krsna are just like long bolts. They also
resemble the bodies of black snakes that enter the space between the two
hill-like breasts of women and bite their hearts. The women then die
from the burning poison.' In other words, the gopis become very much
agitated by lusty desire; they are burning due to the poisonous bite
inflicted by the black snakes of Krsna’s beautiful arms."
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 15.75 verse and purport)
E. He blessed our
Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja wrote at the very end of his
"I think that His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is always seeing my activities and guiding me within my heart by his words. As it is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam, tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye. Spiritual inspiration comes from within the heart, wherein the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His Paramatma feature, is always sitting with all His devotees and associates. It is to be admitted that whatever translation work I have done is through the inspiration of my spiritual master, because personally I am most insignificant and incompetent to do this materially impossible work.
"I do not think myself a very learned scholar, but I have full faith in
the service of my spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. If there is any credit to my
activities of translating, it is all due to His Divine Grace. Certainly
if His Divine Grace were physically present at this time, it would have
been a great occasion for jubilation, but even though he is not
physically present, I am confident that he is very much pleased by this
work of translation. He was very fond of seeing many books published to
spread the Krsna consciousness movement. Therefore our society, the
International Society for Krishna Consciousness, has been formed to
execute the order of
"It is my wish that devotees of Lord Caitanya all over the world enjoy
this translation, and I am glad to express my gratitude to the learned
men in the Western countries who are so pleased with my work that they
are ordering in advance all my books that will be published in the
future. On this occasion, therefore, I request my disciples who are
determined to help me in this work to continue their cooperation fully,
so that philosophers, scholars, religionists and people in general all
over the world will benefit by reading our transcendental literatures,
such as Srimad-Bhagavatam and
Documentary statement 3
matala hari-jane visaya range
pujala raga patha gaurava bange
worship the path of raga-marga, spontaneous devotion. Do not rush ahead.
Keep yourself a little distant and below. One who transgresses these
instructions will be cast down.' That was the motto of
It was not mentioned by
the documentary narrator, but it is stated on one of Sripad Narasingha
Maharaja's websites that this statement is quoted from Srila Sridhara
Maharaja's explanation of a poem by
Srila Sridhara Maharaja did not intend his statement to be the translation of the verse. His explanation given here focuses on the phrase "pujala raga-patha," indicating that the path of raga is worthy of our worship. The implication of this idea is that one can gain a genuine entrance into raga-marga only by mercy from above. There is no other way.
Such mercy will not descend upon those who proudly think themselves qualified, but upon those who, realizing their ineligibility, humbly worship raga-marga from a lower position.
It goes without saying
that in practice it is impossible to worship something that you are
absolutely forbidden to hear, speak or read about. So there must also be
a preliminary stage before raga-marga proper wherein one is exposed, in
a limited capacity, to the tenets of raga-marga. The rate of exposure is
to be determined on an individual basis by one's self-realized Guru.
A. Words of Caution by Srila Bhakti
Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja
Self-realized Gurus awaken the utmost respect for Radha-Krsna-lila in the hearts of aspiring devotees by their cautionary statements. At the same time, they create the atmosphere for a provisional stage of hearing the higher topics, under their guidance and in their service, so that their followers may continue in the right direction. By hearing under such guidance, one develops and increases one's qualification for hearing. The overall effect of cautionary statements along with a tentative exposure to lila katha is realized by the sincere disciple.
In this regard, there is
an article written about Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja,
the sannyasa-guru of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. The
article was written by Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami's disciple,
Srila Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja who, after his Guru's
entrance into nitya-lila in 1968, became the revered Acarya and
President of his institution, Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti. Srila Vamana
"Srila Gurupadapadma was an ideal Guru, and was expert in krsna-tattva. He forbade followers with anarthas to remember asta-kaliya-lila and imagine their siddha-deha (spiritual form). He particularly attracted the attention of everyone by quoting Jagad-guru Srila Prabhupada’s instructive words: 'Smarana will take place by the influence of kirtana, and then it is possible to perform nirjana bhajana.'
"…One day a devotee was studying the commentaries on rasa-lila, bhramara-gita and so on, and Srila Gurudeva said, 'The qualification to hear topics such as rasa-lila will come when sri nama-kirtana has freed the heart from anarthas, and suddha-sattva has appeared there. Otherwise the transcendental pastimes of Sri Radha-Govinda will appear to be the activities of a worldly hero and heroine, and will only give rise to false ideas. The conception of rasa is only possible in the siddha-deha, the perfect state. It is impossible to perceive srngara-rasa in a material body. Only a person who is free from the lower types of enjoyment and is in the stage of bhava is qualified to discuss sambhoga rasa.'"
In this same article,
Srila Vamana Maharaja reveals that while Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava
Gosvami Maharaja warns disciples regarding the eligibility required to
approach proper, unadulterated meditation on the Lord's confidential
pastimes; he also invites those entrenched in the material world, in a
provisional way, to sing about them:
"His ever-fresh and
transcendental talent has been illuminated in his songs such as Srila
Prabhupada’s arati, Sri Tulasi-arati and Mangala-arati. Following the
transcendental poet Sri Jayadeva’s Gita-govinda, Srila Guru Maharaja’s
Mangala-arati gives an INTRODUCTION to the supreme and unequalled,
sweet transcendental pastimes of Sri Vraja-nava-yuva-dvandva, the
eternally youthful Conjugal Couple of Vraja." (Published in the book
"Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami, His Life and Teachings," by
Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, in the section called "Srila
Gurupadapadma’s Supramundane Character and Guru-nistha.")
Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami's Mangala-arati song is a meditation on Sri Sri Radha-Krsna's nisanta-lila, Their confidential, pre-dawn pastimes. The following excerpt from chapter seven of his biography explains one of the verses:
"This prayer causes the auspicious arati
of Sri Sri Radha Krsna Yugala to manifest in the heart of the
raganuga-sadhaka. Losing external consciousness of his body and this
world, he sees with his eternal form 'mayura sukadi sari kata pikaraja
mangala jagara hetu kariche viraja' (verse 5).
The time of dawn is quickly
approaching. In some pleasure grove such as Sanketa, Sri Sri Radha-Krsna
Yugala are still asleep, bound by each others’ embrace. Afraid that
everyone will soon wake up, Vrnda-devi inspires the birds such as
peacocks, male and female parrots, cuckoos, and papihas to awaken Sri
Yugala. At that time, all the birds in the water and on land start
calling in their sweet voices: 'mayura sukadi sari kata pikaraja mangala
jagara hetu kariche viraja.' "
Great personalities know how to foster eligibility in their disciples. They gently and tentatively introduce us and invite us to that spiritual realm. This experience is afforded only by their association. Without their association, it cannot be gleaned from the pages of a book or any other media.
Srila Narayana Maharaja,
a beloved disciple of Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja, addresses
the topic of eligibility in the following discourse.
B. Words of caution from Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
Srila Narayana Maharaja fully embraces the statement of Sri Sukadeva
Gosvami (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.33.39; quoted in Appreciation "F" of
Documentary statement 1), which states that if a conditioned soul hears
with faith from a self-realized soul about Lord Sri Krsna's pastimes
with the gopis, he will attain prema-bhakti and become free from lust.
Srila Narayana Maharaja also embraces the commentaries to this verse by
his worshipful superiors like
At the same time, he also gives classes warning followers to be careful
not to imitate advanced devotees. The following discourse was given in
"Who is actually speaking about the sweetness of Krsna here? Is it Kamsa Maharaja, Aghasura, Bakasura, or Putana? Radhika herself is telling this; She alone is qualified to speak in this way. The history behind Her words is this:
"A sakhi once told Her, 'Krsna has
left Vrndavana. He now has 16,108 queens, and millions of others also
want to marry Him. Why do You have so much love and affection for that
crooked Krsna? He has no love for You and no love for Vrndavana. Give
Him up and try to forget Him forever.'
"Demons like Kamsa, Jarasandha, Duryodhana, Putana, Bakasura, Aghasura, Kesi, Canura, and Mustika were seeing that very same Krsna, but they thought of Him as a very cruel, powerful and dangerous enemy. They did not see or experience His sweetness.
"Do you know why I am speaking in this way? These demons are against Krsna. Therefore, instead of experiencing His sweetness, they simply experience their own enmity. Similarly, if we imagine that we are meditating on Krsna's asta-kaliya-lila and we have not reached the stage of rati, we will also not experience His sweetness. Rather, we will experience our own lusty and other material desires. In this connection, Kamsa and other demons represent our material desires. Krsna and the realization of the sweetness of Krsna is our goal, but do not try to 'jump up to the top of the tree.' Begin from the root of the tree and climb up from there; then you can realize your goal.
"One must follow the proper process of his bhakti from the beginning:
'In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for
self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to
associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In the next stage
one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his
instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional
service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the
spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains
steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about
the Absolute Personality of Godhead,
"You must also be able to follow these principles: 'When the seed of ecstatic emotion for Krsna fructifies, the following nine symptoms manifest in one’s behavior: forgiveness, concern that time should not be wasted, detachment, absence of false prestige, hope, eagerness, a taste for chanting the holy name of the Lord, attachment to descriptions of the transcendental qualities of the Lord, and affection for those places where the Lord resides—that is, a temple or a holy place like Vrndavana. These are all called anubhava, subordinate signs of ecstatic emotion. They are visible in a person in whose heart the seed of love of God has begun to fructify.' (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 23.18-19)
"If you can follow these above-mentioned two slokas, then you can realize something of the goal – otherwise not. I know, and I see, that in Western and Eastern countries, here and there, many of the devotees want to enter asta-kaliya-lila (Sri Sri Radha-Krsna's eight-fold daily pastimes, from morning to next morning), although they do not even know what it is.
"We must be very careful. Our Gosvamis have warned us not to delve very much into this subject matter. This topic is truly our goal, but we can only realize it by following the proper process for advancement in bhakti. If a person has many worldly desires and is attached to women, wine and wealth, how can he properly meditate on asta-kaliya-lila? If one misunderstands his own identity and considers himself to be his body, he will not be able to properly think about asta-kaliya-lila.
"Suppose a man or a woman tries to think about Radha-Krsna's pastimes at , for example. Suppose they try to remember how all the gopis left their homes and met Krsna alone, and moreover how Krsna left all the gopis at night and took only Srimati Radhika in a kunja, where They played together. What will he or she think about it? Moreover, if such a man and woman meet together at night 'to discuss these topics', what will be the ultimate result of their 'love'? They are bound to feel lust, and thus they will not be able to control their minds. Their characters will be ruined and they will ruin their entire spiritual lives. Do you understand what I am saying? We should not even think about this topic.
"A young – or old – person may remember the following verse: 'O
Govardhana! Please grant me a dwelling near your side so that I can
easily witness and serve the youthful lovers Sri Radha-Krsna as They
perform newer and newer secret, amorous lilas within your many caves
where They become completely maddened from drinking prema. You are
present and making everything possible.' (
verse it is suggested that Radha and Krsna are meeting together and
embracing. If a devotee who is not very advanced tries to meditate on
this, a worldly conception is bound to come. Therefore, always be
highest examples of love and affection in service to Krsna are the gopis
– but this does not apply to all the gopis. This highest service cannot
even be performed by
"We must be very careful. We should not discuss the confidential matters
try to follow the teachings of the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam,
and try to follow
"Sri Krsna-dvaipayana Vyasa and Srila Sukadeva Gosvami have somewhat explained about the goal of our life in the descriptions of the incarnations Matsya, and Kurma, and in descriptions of Varaha, Narasimha, Rama, Parasurama, Vamana, and Kalki. They have kept all the madhura-lila in the Tenth Canto, and there they have explained our aim and object fully.
Himself became each of the incarnations, like Matsya, Kurma, Varaha,
Narasimha, Vamana, Balarama and Kalki. They are all Him; but He is
playing the role of being Them.
sri-jayadeva-kaver idam uditam udaram
srnu sukha-dam subha-dam bhava-saram
dhrta-dasa-vidha-rupa! jaya jagadisa! Hare
["O Kesava! O You who
assume these ten forms! O Jagadisa! O You who remove Your devotees'
material desires! All glories to You! My humble supplication at Your
lotus feet is that You please hear this Dasavatara-Stotra composed by
the poet Jayadeva, because it describes the essence of Your incarnations
and is most excellent, bestowing happiness and auspiciousness." (
"In this connection, Kesava means
"Then, in the Eleventh Canto, they discussed Sri Narada Muni's
explaining to Vasudeva about the topics instructed by the Navayogendras
"The same goal of life has been expressed in a still better way in
anarpita-carim cirat karunayavatirnah kalau
sphuratu vah saci-nandanah
["May the Supreme Lord who
is known as the son of Srimati Sacidevi be transcendentally situated in
the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of
molten gold, He has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy
to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most sublime
and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love."
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.4)]
radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmad
ekatmanav api bhuvi pura deha-bhedam gatau tau
caitanyakhyam prakatam adhuna tad-dvayam caikyam aptam
radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalitam naumi krsna-svarupam
["The loving affairs of
sri-radhayah pranaya-mahima kidrso vanayaiva-
svadyo yenadbhuta-madhurima kidrso va madiyah
saukhyam casya mad-anubhavatah kidrsam veti lobhat
["Desiring to understand
the glory of Radharani’s love, the wonderful qualities in Him that She
alone relishes through Her love, and the happiness She feels when She
realizes the sweetness of His love, the Supreme Lord Hari, richly
endowed with Her emotions, appeared from the womb of Srimati Sacidevi,
as the moon appeared from the ocean." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila
"Be careful about being at the bottom of the tree and, from there, jumping to the top. Do not go in the direction of fire; otherwise you will be burned.
"It is not sufficient merely to speak about the proper established philosophical truths (siddhanta) and processes of bhakti. Try to be actually realized in this. If you do not follow, you cannot advance in actual Krsna consciousness.
"Suppose a disciple is always glorifying Krsna and His sweet pastimes.
That disciple is always chanting, but he does not have very much faith
in his guru. Suppose he is chanting a hundred-thousand names daily and
is always reading about the pastimes of Krsna and glorifying Him, but he
is not following his Gurudeva's orders. He sometimes follows his Guru's
orders and sometimes does not. Sometimes he follows his uncontrolled
mind and not the process and teachings of
yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
["Only unto those great
souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master
are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed." (
This one line, "Pujala raga-patha gaurava bhange," teaches us the authentic process of bhajana which is suitable for all aspiring sadhakas.
Raga-patha, the path that leads to the transcendental service of the Divine Couple under the guidance of their eternal associates, is not something one can enter on the strength of one's own qualifications. If someone thinks that he is qualified, he will be stranded without help from above as a reward for his arrogance. Therefore "pujala" – the path is to be worshiped, "a little distant, and below."
This is not a
ban on raga-marga, but the guaranteed method of entry. By considering
oneself unqualified and maintaining the utmost reverence for that path,
one becomes a candidate for receiving the mercy of
tad bhakta karunya matra labhaika hetuka
At the stage of raganuga-sadhana bhakti, there is some degree of revelation of one's eternal identity. Such revelation comes by mercy. Thus, one who tries to enter the path without endorsement from the higher realm will have to resort to the fruitless technique of fanciful imagination.
Gaurava-bhange – awe and reverence broken:
The mood of awe and
reverence is considered incompatible with the prema of the residents of
It is vital not
to mix up the internal and external aspects of raganuga-sadhana-bhakti.
Awe and reverence is an obstacle to internal service of the sadhaka, but
when the sadhaka is in external consciousness, it remains an essential
expression of his intense longing. As
yadiccher avasam vraja-bhuvi sa RAGAm prati-janur
yuva dvandvam tac cet
svarupam sri rupam sa ganam iha tasyagrajam api
sphutam premna nityam smara
nama tada tvam srnu manah
"My dear mind, please hear
me! If you are eager to gain residence in Vraja on the platform of RAGA,
and if you desire to obtain the direct service of the Divine Youthful
The internal mood of awe and reverence (gaurava) will abate or break (bhanga) upon the influx of mercy from above – for those who deeply revere the path of raga.
instruction only for a neophyte?
is that making an external effort to avoid awe and reverence is not the
process to overcome the internal obstacle of aisvarya-jnana. In external
consciousness, an understanding of the opulence of Vraja will always
remain, as illustrated by
yat kincit trna gulma kikata mukham gosthe samastam hi tat
sarvanandadayam mukunda dayitam lilanukulam param
sastrair eve muhur muhuh sphutam idam nistankitam yacnyer
brahmader api sasprhena tad
idam sarvam maya vandyate
"With great longing I
WORSHIP all the living entities of Vraja, including the grass, bushes,
flies and birds, which are filled with transcendental bliss. Their
fortune is so great that it is aspired for by personalities such as
Brahma and Uddhava." (Vraja-vilasa-stava 102)
Another salient point to consider is that it is not possible to worship a path about which one is forbidden to hear. Consequently, there must be a preliminary stage in which a person who is unqualified for raganuga-bhakti is exposed, in a limited capacity, to the katha of raga-marga. The rate of exposure is to be decided by Sri Guru in accordance with the eligibility of the disciple.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has written a translation and
commentary of Srila Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta, called Nectar of
Instruction. The eighth verse contains what
"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has commented as follows upon this verse: 'One who has not yet developed interest in Krsna consciousness should give up all material motives and train his mind by following the progressive regulative principles, namely chanting and remembering Krsna and His name, form, quality, pastimes and so forth. In this way, after developing a taste for such things, one should try to live in Vrndavana and pass his time constantly remembering Krsna's name, fame, pastimes and qualities under the direction and protection of an expert devotee. This is the sum and substance of all instruction regarding the cultivation of devotional service.
"'In the neophyte stage one should always engage in hearing krsna-katha. This is called sravana-dasa, the stage of hearing. By constantly hearing the transcendental holy name of Krsna and hearing of His transcendental form, qualities and pastimes, one can attain to the stage of acceptance called varana-dasa. When one attains this stage, he becomes attached to the hearing of krsna-katha. When one is able to chant in ecstasy, he attains the stage of smaranavastha, the stage of remembering. Recollection, absorption, meditation, constant remembrance and trance are the five items of progressive krsna-smarana. At first, remembrance of Krsna may be interrupted at intervals, but later remembrance proceeds uninterrupted. When remembrance is uninterrupted, it becomes concentrated and is called meditation. When meditation expands and becomes constant, it is called anusmrti. By uninterrupted and unceasing anusmrti one enters the stage of samadhi, or spiritual trance. After smarana-dasa or samadhi has fully developed, the soul comes to understand his original constitutional position. At that time he can perfectly and clearly understand his eternal relationship with Krsna. That is called sampatti-dasa, the perfection of life.
"'Caitanya-caritamrta advises those who are neophytes to give up all kinds of motivated desires and simply engage in the regulative devotional service of the Lord according to the directions of scripture. In this way a neophyte can gradually develop attachment for Krsna's name, fame, form, qualities and so forth. When one has developed such attachment, he can spontaneously serve the lotus feet of Krsna even without following the regulative principles.
"'This stage is called raga-bhakti or devotional service in spontaneous
love. At that stage the devotee can follow in the footsteps of one of
the eternal associates of Krsna in Vrndavana. This is called
raganuga-bhakti. Raganuga-bhakti, or spontaneous devotional service, can
be executed in the santa-rasa when one aspires to be like Krsna's cows
or the stick or flute in the hand of Krsna, or the flowers around
Krsna's neck. In the dasya-rasa one follows in the footsteps of servants
like Citraka, Patraka or Raktaka. In the friendly sakhya-rasa one can
become a friend like Baladeva, Sridama or Sudama. In the vatsalya-rasa,
characterized by parental affection, one can become like Nanda Maharaja
and Yasoda, and in the madhurya-rasa, characterized by conjugal love,
one can become like Srimati Radharani or Her lady friends such as Lalita
and Her serving maids (manjaris) like Rupa and Rati. This is the essence
of all instruction in the matter of devotional service.'" (Nectar of
Instruction, Purport verse 8)
The following is an excerpt from chapter 14 (called Krsna-prema) of the
"The truth is that there is a real plane for the wholesome exercise of
the amorous disposition that is part and parcel of our soul. It is
necessary to realize the nature of this plane in order to be relieved of
our harmful errors in regard to sexual relationship. Some sort of
conviction must precede the actual adoption of any proposed method. The
"Madhura-rati is the highest form of prema, and an individual soul even
in the stage of raganuga-bhakti in the wake of the ragatmika-bhakti
considers herself as a maid, called manjari, under the guidance of the
way of services rendered by the dearest Rupa-manjari and Rati-manjari
and others who, in their turn, are subservient to Sri
eight sakhis, who are the counter-parts of Sri Radhika. They are all
engaged in the aprakrta services of their beloved
"Hence a sadhaka in raganuga bhakti may be a man or a woman in this physical world. He or she develops the aprakrta-body of a gopi, called a manjari, if his or her raga is awakened in the wake of the Vraja-gopis. The physical body in this world can never reach the feet of the Lord.
"[That Vraja-gopi,] more technically a manjari, has a particular name,
conception of her form and beauty, her particular age, her costumes, her
specialized service or seva, and her grove (or kunja) where she receives
and serves the Divine Couple Sri Radha-Krsna. The individual in
raganuga-bhakti meditates inwardly, looking upon himself or herself as a
"Preach all over the world the teachings of
D. An interview with Sripad Madhava Maharaja
Sripad Bhaktivedanta Madhava Maharaja is a disciple of Srila
Bhaktivedanta Vamana Gosvami Maharaja. He is a siksa disciple of Srila
Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, and has been his personal
servant and secretary since 1979. In
the following interview of
[Question:] "The narrator
of the documentary 'The Universal Teacher' quoted Srila Sarasvati
Thakura Prabhupada's verse, 'matala hari-jane visaya range, pujala
raga-patha gaurava-bhange.' Then he gave the translation, 'Always
worship the path of raga-marga, spontaneous devotion. Do not rush ahead.
Keep yourself a little distant and below. One who transgresses these
instructions will be cast down. That was the motto of
explain the verse further?"
[Question:] "Then what is
iste svarasiki ragah
tan-mayi ya bhaved bhaktih
["When one becomes
attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his natural inclination
to love is fully absorbed in thoughts of the Lord. That is called
transcendental attachment, and devotional service according to that
attachment is called ragatmika, or spontaneous devotional service."
(Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.272, and
is the devotion situated in the hearts of the eternal associates of
Krsna in Vraja. Here, the word gaurava-bhange refers to the breaking
(bhange means break) of the awe and reverence mood (gaurava) by
raga-bhakti. The word matala means complete absorption. Such liberated
devotees have only one visaya (object of love), and that is
"Because of the raga in their
hearts, they have no awe and reverence mood. In this world they worship
raga-patha; that is, the path of complete absorption in and attachment
"Why do we want to worship this path? We are now aspiring sadhaka-jivas, and our ultimate object is to attain raga-bhakti. For that we have to go step by step. By following the correct process we will gradually enter raganuga-bhakti, and then we will attain raga-bhakti."
Translation of the beautiful verse
matala hari-jane visaya range
pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange
Sometimes this Bengali
verse is found with the words "visaya range"; and sometimes, as in the
inscription on the wall of the
With "visaya range":
worship the path of spontaneous devotion, whereby awe and reverence is
Krsna is the only visaya, the only enjoyer. As the enjoyer He has unlimited transcendental desires. These desires are fulfilled by His associates, the hari-janas, who are asraya. The hari-janas revel in fulfilling His desires. They are maddened with the ambition to fulfil His desires.
Srila Narayana Maharaja explains that
this verse applies to the liberated associates of Sri Caitanya
Mahaprabhu in this world, who have come as raganuga-bhaktas.
With "kirtana range":
F. The real
existence of Bhaktisiddhanta
Some devotees say this verse originally manifested from the lips of
One of Sripad Narasingha Maharaja's websites has a link to a very short,
fifteen second, audio statement of Srila Sridhara Maharaja referring to
this verse. We therefore had the good fortune to hear his recorded
voice: "Pujala raga-patha gaurava bhange. This is Bhaktisiddhanta vani.
The real existence of Bhaktisiddhanta [bhakti-siddhanta] is there."
Documentary Statement 4 – in the form of a visual
visuals were shown along with the narrator's statement: "
Here we find an unfortunate lapse of courtesy, which we prefer to
think must be uncharacteristic of his holiness Sripad B.G. Narasingha
Maharaja. While mentioning Rasa-lila, he might have displayed the cover
of the Krsna Book, written by his own Guru, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami
Maharaja. [While writing in his own publication that
However, he decided only to present the work of Srila Narayana Maharaja, along with a warning not to read it. Are we to take this as a charitable act of free publicity? If so, we are grateful.
He could have mentioned that the Gita-govinda on the screen begins with
an extra thirty-five pages of warnings to support his own warning. His
failure to do so unnecessarily portrays the book and its commentator in
an objectionable light. By token of the same logic,
Further, in a recent posting on his Krishna-talk internet article, Sripad B.G. Narasingha Maharaja goes on to confuse the act of publishing a confidential book with endorsing its indiscriminate study, as if the two issues were the same. Little can be said to address such non sequitur without running the risk of accrediting improper logic with substance.
The question may be asked in a general sense: Why do acaryas publish or even write confidential books in the first place? They know that most of us are not qualified. Still, like affectionate parents who bequeath their treasures to their beloved children on the condition of their coming of age, our merciful acaryas leave the priceless transcendental treasure of their realizations in books for their followers to relish when, one day, those followers are mature enough in their bhakti to deeply appreciate them.
Are we to construe their generous provision for our future an
incriminating act of sahajiyaism? Better we accept it with a properly
adjusted sense of responsibility.
A. Reply to Krishna-talk statements
The following are Krishna-talk's specific statements and our reply to
each. Unfortunately, these statements reveal the thoughts behind the
documentary producer's committing the otherwise simply tacit offense of
showing the full-screen pictures of Srila Narayana Maharaja's edition of
[Unlike the rest of our article, in this section, "A," our words will
not be in bold letters.]
quite misleading that the publishers have posed
Sripad Narasingha Maharaja is a very honorable Vaisnava sannyasi. We
humbly request him to reconsider his statement. The publishers of Srila
Narayana Maharaja's translation and commentary of
a misnomer, since the article presented there as a forward by
Bhaktisiddhanta was actually not written by Bhaktisiddhanta. The article
was originally written by Professor Nisikanta Sanyal and published in
The Harmonist magazine volume 26 #6 in November 1928 (it was later
published as a small booklet in 1931). The article was originally called
"The Erotic Principle and Unalloyed Devotion" and has been printed and
mistakenly attributed to Bhaktisiddhanta in many
article used in the Foreword was published in chapter 14 of "
There is an article from the Harmonist, later printed as a booklet
entitled "The Erotic Principle and Unalloyed Devotion" by
so-called 'Forward to
was no add-on. There are clearly two separate parts of the Foreword. One
For the information of the readers, there are two separate books in this
regard. One is called "
is indeed a ruse when the publishers of Gita-govinda say that if the
followers of Bhaktisiddhanta do not translate and comment upon
Ujjvala-nilamani, Gita-govinda, etc. that these books will then be the
exclusive property of the Sahajiyas. To the contrary, in doing so, the
publishers of Gita-govinda have entered the domain of the Sahajiyas and
shown us their true colors.
We are simply sad to read this statement, which is an attempt to dishonor our worshipful siksa-guru Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja by calling him a sahajiya. Our Prabhupada quotes his Prabhupada on the subject of sahajiyas: "Such an advanced devotee has nothing to do with the sahajiyas, who manufacture their own way and commit sins by indulging in illicit sex, intoxication and gambling, if not meat-eating. Sometimes the sahajiyas imitate advanced devotees and live in their own whimsical way, avoiding the principles set down in the revealed scriptures…The sahajiyas' understanding of the love affairs between Radha and Krsna is not bona fide because they do not follow the principles laid down by the Six Gosvamis."
We simply pray to the honorable Sripad Narasingha Maharaja that he will be so kind as to reconsider and then retract his statements.
Regarding Gita-govinda, he may kindly consider all the warnings
regarding qualification to read the Gita-govinda that are given in Srila
Narayana Maharaja's own Introduction, as well as the other front-matter
of the book. It is interesting to note the last paragraph of
Regarding Narasingha Maharaja's statement, "…It is indeed a ruse when
the publishers of Gita-govinda say that if the followers of
Bhaktisiddhanta do not translate and comment upon Ujjvala-nilamani,
Gita-govinda, etc. that these books will then be the exclusive property
of the Sahajiyas": It is worth noting Srila Sarasvati Thakura
Prabhupada's lecture at Sri Radha-kunda in 1932, later published in "The
Gaudiya" in 1934. There he said, "We must retrieve asta-kaliya-lila from
the hands of the sahajiyas."
reader is invited to log on to Srila Narayana Maharaja's website,
www.purebhakti.com. There, one can
freely read or download his books and hundreds of his lectures. About
500 of his lectures are posted on his website, and from that it is plain
to see how he is carefully cultivating bhakti in the hearts of the
conditioned souls. For example, he discusses topics like Bhagavad-gita,
Druva Maharaja, the conversation between Devahuti and
Finally, he discusses the glory and topmost krsna-prema of
the gopis and especially
C. Regarding the title "Unconventional Teachers"
This section discusses the reason for titling our article and website "Unconventional Teachers." All of the self-realized acaryas in our disciplic succession – from Lord Brahma to Srila Vyasadeva to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to Srila Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada to his pure followers of the present day – are universal teachers and "unconventional teachers" at the same time.
conditioned souls inevitably try to "freeze" the teaching of an acarya
in order to promote it in the manner of a marketable commodity. However,
"The bona fide teacher of religion is neither any product nor the favorer of any mechanical system. In his hands no system has likewise the chance of degenerating into a lifeless arrangement. The mere pursuit of fixed doctrines and fixed liturgies cannot hold a person to the true spirit of doctrine or liturgy.
"The idea of an organized church in an intelligible form indeed marks the close of the living spiritual movement. The great ecclesiastical establishments are the dykes and the dams to retain the current that cannot be held by any such contrivances. They, indeed, indicate a desire on the part of the masses to exploit a spiritual movement for their own purpose. They also unmistakably indicate the end of the absolute and UNCONVENTIONAL guidance of the bona fide spiritual teacher." (emphasis is ours)
By describing spiritual guidance as "unconventional", Srila Sarasvati Thakura, the universal teacher himself, teaches that any one specific statement of his, such as "Do not read Govinda-lilamrta" is NOT universally applicable at all times, all places, in all circumstances and for all audiences. We cannot believe that our most respectful superior Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja would quote his Guru Maharaja as saying that such a statement universally and eternally applies to all.
We all agree about the necessity for caution with rasa and extreme
caution with rahasya. But the non-publication of rasa-sastra by one
acarya does not preclude the publication of rasa-sastra by another.
the title "Unconventional Teachers," three syllables are identical in
syntax to Universal Teacher. Un + ve + al are common to both
Unconventional and Universal. Unconventional Teacher is immediately
recognizable as an elaboration of Universal Teacher. The words
"unconventional teachers" was inspired by the above-mentioned article
This eternal principle of unconventionality gives rise to the apparent
differences in the approaches of all authentic acaryas – although there
is no difference in their message or mission. If only universal teachers
could be cloned from the stem cells of a few contextual phrases, we
would not have to rely on prayer, introspection and the causeless mercy
Who can deny that there is a speciality in the presentations in each of our acaryas? The perfect acaryas preach according to time, place, circumstance and audience. According to these four, our acaryas employ various strategies in their preaching. For this reason, no one can demand a fixed, homogeneous meta-narrative.
We find that the same audience receives different instructions from an acarya as that audience matures in bhakti; there are so many examples of this.
Srila Sukadeva Gosvami was speaking Srimad-Bhagavatam to Maharaja
Pariksit, who was a resident of Dvaraka and
Here is an example which shows that different acaryas will say
apparently different things to different audiences of different
qualifications – while there is really no contradiction in their ideas.
The example is given by
In the same way, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Pujyapada Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, and our Guru Maharaja Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are all in the same line. Outwardly, to some, it may sometimes be seen that they have different opinions, but really this is not so. Those who are not on their level see circumstantial, outward, and apparent differences in opinion. In so doing, such persons may criticize one acarya and glorify another – but wrongly, not understanding either of their actual moods and siddhanta.
As quoted above from
As all bona fide acaryas have done,
prema-rasa-niryasa karite asvadana
raga-marga bhakti loke karite pracarana
rasika-sekhara krsna parama-karuna
ei dui hetu haite icchara
"The Lord's desire to
appear was born from two reasons: He wanted to taste the sweet essence
of the mellows of love of God, and He wanted to propagate devotional
service in the world on the platform of spontaneous attraction (raga-marga
or raganuga-bhakti). Thus He is known as supremely jubilant and as the
most merciful of all." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 4.15)
mission is the same as that of
spiritual jiva’s relationship with the material world is completely
“As long as this condition
is absent, human intelligence remains spontaneously attached to mundane
objects." (Sri Jaiva-dharma, Ch 3)
E. The Glory of
In this regard we
present three classes given by Srila Narayana Maharaja. The first is a
discourse given in
HIS LAST DAYS
those in attendance, 'I am unhappy. I have come for a mission – to give
the things that
"'However, most of my time was spent in cutting the "jungles" of mayavada, sahajiya-vada, sakhi-bekhi and all other non-devotional ideas. If there is a mayavada jungle, the seeds of bhakti will not sprout. I therefore had to cut so many jungles, and still there are so many jungles left throughout the world. Most of my time was spent in clarifying philosophical points.'
this, his mood changed and his face became reddish. Then he spoke the
yasyah kadapi vasanancala-khelanottha-
yogindra-durgama-gatir madhusudano 'pi
tasya namo 'stu
vrsabhanu-bhuvo dise 'pi'
["Obeisances to the
direction that faces Sri Vrsabhanu's daughter. When the breeze coming
from that direction playfully moves the edge of His garment,
"'smara-vilasita-talpe jalpa-lilam analpam
krama-krti-parihinam bibhrati tena sardham
mitha iva parirambharambha-vrttaika-varsma
ksanam api mama radhe
netram anandaya tvam'
Radha, who, without going anywhere else stays on the couch of amorous
pastimes, talking for a long time with Lord Krsna and embracing Him so
strongly that Your two forms appear to become one, please, for even a
moment, delight my eyes." (
Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was ordered by Sri Caitanya
Mahaprabhu to help all devotees understand that Srimati Radhika is the
most powerful among all the gopis, and that in order to become Her dasi
(maidservant), we will have to become rupanuga. Without being rupanuga –
without the guidance of
The following is
excerpted from another class by Srila Narayana Maharaja, given on
"Sri Gauracandra told His associates, 'Oh Nityananda, Oh Haridasa Prabhu, go from door to door and preach: bolo krsna, bhaja krsna, karo krsna: chant the names of Krsna, worship Krsna and serve Krsna.' This is gaura-vani.
is also what
"Gaura-vani is also the love and affection explained by
entire disciplic succession descended to this world from
devotees left their Guru, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, and went
to Radha-kunda. They wanted to remember asta-kaliya-lila, the pastimes
persons of ill character who were rejected from the
The pastimes of
obeisances to such pastimes and try to practice bhakti-yoga as our
predecessor acaryas have taught us. Begin from the root of the tree,
become qualified to climb, and then gradually reach the top. At that
time you can relish the fruits of the tree. Otherwise, you will have
nothing but false ideas. Try to follow
THE GIVER OF MADHURYA-BHAKTI
Based on an explanation of
"This is the appearance day of Jagad-Guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and therefore we should discuss his glories.
om visnupadaya krsna-presthaya bhutale, srimate
bhaktisiddhanta-sarasvatiti-namine. In this pranama mantra it is stated:
om visnupadaya krsna-presthaya bhutale. He was very near and dear to
Krsna – very near and dear – in that male form. But who is he really? In
the second sloka of his pranama mantra it is stated: sri
varsabhanavi-devi-dayitaya. He is really the eternal maidservant of
Krpabhdaye. He is not called an ocean of mercy only because he gave us
harinama. He gave so much more. He brought
"…Krsna sambandha-vijnana dayine prabhave namah. In this world we have a relationship with our father and mother and our immediate family. We think, 'She is my mother, he is my father, and he is my brother.' But we are not satisfied with that. We want to be a husband or wife, girlfriend or boyfriend. But still we are not satisfied.
where have these relationships come? They come from
"We want love. We want something. We first loved our mother, then our father, then our brothers, then other relatives, and then our neighbors. But we were never satisfied. Then we collected wives or husbands, and when we were not satisfied, we got divorced and changed the old ones for new ones. But still we were not satisfied. You cannot be satisfied. No one can ever be satisfied. When you meet with Krsna and serve Him, then you will be satisfied. This is a transcendental relationship, and this relationship is given by Guru. Prabhupada gave this, and this relationship will be forever. It was for this end that he gave the mantra 'klim krsnaya govindaya.'
premadya sri rupanuga bhaktida. He explained all these truths. He
actually came only to give this madhuryojjvala-prema, this gopi-prema,
"From the beginning, therefore, I was very alert to avoid cutting
jungles – because our guru-varga had already cut them down. I considered
that I must do something affirmative. I therefore accepted this and I
preached it from the beginning. Now, however, coming to the Western
countries I began to think, 'To whom shall I tell this?' Now I also have
to cut down some jungles. When I am in Vrndavana or Navadvipa, however,
I mainly speak about the high class of sweet pastimes of
IN REPLY TO THE VIDEO/DOCUMENTARY STATEMENTS
should know that when they were doing Vraja Mandala parikrama at