Sri Upadesamrta: Verse Five, Part One
The following is an installment of our classroom series: Sri Upadesamrta, with Illuminations by Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami, published by Gosai Publishers, 2009. View past installments, here.
krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta
diksasti cet pranatibhis ca bhajantam isam
susrusaya bhajana-vijnam ananyam anya
One should mentally offer respects to that person who chants the holy name of Krishna. One should bow down unto that devotee who has accepted initiation and is engaged in worship of the Lord, and one should desire the association of those pure devotees who are advanced in bhajana and whose hearts are totally devoid of blasphemy to others and faithfully render service unto them.
Illumination by B. R. Sridhara-Deva Goswami
Once, the people of Kulingrama approached Mahaprabhu and put the question, “Whom should we understand to be a Vaishnava?” Then he told, “Whoever you find taking a single holy name of Krishna on his lips, you may take him as Krishna’s.” Then later they put the same question to Mahaprabhu and he told, “When you find that person who is incessantly taking the holy name of Krishna, you will know him as a real devotee and you will try to serve him.” The third time he told them, “If you find a devotee of Krishna, by whose sight you feel inclined to take the holy name of Krishna, then he is the highest type of devotee of Krishna.” These three classes he divided, but the holy name must be free of offense, not namabhasa or namaparadha. If you find a single pure holy name on the lips of any gentleman you may take him as a devotee of Krishna – that is a kanistha-adhikari. The next is the intermediate devotee, the madhyama-adhikari. Whenever you find one who is always trying to take the holy name of Krishna, then you will try to serve him and you will be benefited. And if you are fortunate to find any Vaishnava that whenever you come to see him you feel the tendency within you to take the holy name of Krishna, then you will try your best to do anything that he says. That is the uttama-adhikari. These three classes of devotion, we also find in the Bhagavata:
arcayam eva haraye
pujam yah sraddhayehate
na tad-bhaktesu canyesu
sa bhaktah prakrtah smrtah
A devotee who faithfully worships the deity, but does not properly respect the Vaishnavas or the people in general is called a materialistic devotee, and is considered to be in the lowest position of devotional service.1
balisesu dvisatsu ca
yah karoti sa madhyamah
The devotee in the intermediate stage of devotional service is called a madhyama-adhikari. He loves the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a sincere friend to all the devotees of the Lord, shows mercy to the innocent and disregards the envious.2
sarva bhutessu yah pasyed
bhagavad bhavam atmanah
bhutani bhagavaty atmany
The first class devotee sees Krishna in everything, and everything within Krishna.3
Mahaprabhu has also given this general idea to Rupa Goswami, and Rupa Goswami has given us this Sanskrit sloka in his Upadesamrta. Bhaktivinoda Thakura gives a commentary to this that is very important:
jadi tava nama gaya
manase adara, karibo tahare
jani’ nija-jana taya
Within my mind I will honor and consider as most dear one who avoids the fault of bad association and sings your holy name, be he formally initiated or not.4
If one takes the holy name of Krishna and he is not in bad association, then we shall adore him in our mind, but not physically. If he does not have any bad connection then we can show some appreciation, we can show some sympathy. If he is connected with any bad company that we know has some malpractices, then we won’t care for his taking the holy name. If he directly takes bad company, then his taking the holy name is of the opposite nature. Just like this Nitai-Gaura Radhe-Syama party. Of course, these names are all well and good, but this party of that Rama Dasa Babaji, says that Nitai is Radha, Gaura is Syama. With this object they use the holy name. So much misconception is associated with that party. If we hear the names of Nitai-Gaura from them we won’t care for it. We shall try to avoid. The chanting of the holy name cannot produce anything until and unless that sort of association is gone. They cannot be adored. One may not have proper admission in the line through a proper agent, but soon one may come to that stage. But if you find the holy name of Krishna in somebody who is without proper diksa, you can appreciate. This is the particular note of Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
Offering Physical Respect to the Vaisnava
Krsneti yasya giri – giri means if one is pronouncing so many words and you find he’s chanting the holy name of Krsna, then you may adore him. You will only bow down to him when he is diksita – when the agent of the Lord accepts him, when he has the holy name in his ear and his heart. The holy name has been distributed to him. Diksa means connection with sad-guru. Krishna has accepted him as his devotee through his real agent. That is acceptance from the devotional party of Krishna. Then we will bow down to him because the seed has come within his heart. Krishna has come to capture his heart. In the temple of his heart Krishna has descended. Then we shall show our physical honor to him – not only mental but physical also. Diksasti cet pranatibhis – if he is connected with the higher Vaishnava then we shall bow down our head to him, not otherwise.
Susrusaya bhajana-vijnam ananyam – if by our great fortune we can find any person who is deeply engaged in Krishna consciousness, who has directed the current of his whole life towards exclusive devotion, then we will always try to have his company. If we find any devotee who serves his Lord with a continuous serving mood, whose connection with the divinity is incessant, we shall serve him. We will try to do anything and everything for him if we find that he has completely devoted himself and immersed himself in the taste of the sweetness of the holy name of the Lord and his lila etc. Such a person’s sincere chanting of the holy name of Krishna is not imitation, not namaparadha or namabhasa. Only the real name is on his lips.
The Ten Kinds of Offenses to the Holy Name
The Holy Name is not lip-deep only – a mere physical sound. It has a greater and higher aspect; it is fully spiritual. That must have the reference of Vaikuntha. Kuntha means limitation, and vai-kuntha means above limitation. The sound has its original conception above the realm of limitation – the plane that is above all limitation. That immeasurable force is invited in the form of sound to do away with all the anomalies in this mundane world. We are in the plane of marginal existence; therefore a higher connection is necessary. Then that wave will start from some higher realm and will come down to us.
In sound also there is classification. A sound from the proper plane will be effective but not any imitation sound. Imitation means namaparadha and namabhasa. There are ten types of namaparadha. Aparadha means to disfigure – not to deal properly but to mishandle something. By such mishandling we cannot get our desired result. Proper handling is necessary with everything. In the laboratory a scientist is making an experiment, but an experiment is only successful when everything is properly handled. Otherwise there may be an explosion and the scientist may die.
The first type of namaparadha is satam-ninda. We must not abuse the Vaishnavas – those that are the agents of the Lord who come to deliver the fallen souls. If you abuse them then the holy name becomes dissatisfied. Only Krishna’s devotees are real saints, because they are after eternal life. Saint means Vaishnava. Those persons who worship demigods for temporary gain are not considered saints. They may be neglected, for they are not devotees. We avoid them. A saint is one who has no ambition in his life but to have the connection of loving service with the supreme Lord. Only those who are agents of eternal truth, absolute good, are to be considered saintly. We should not abuse such saintly persons.
The second offense is that we should not unnecessarily abuse other demigods, nor should we consider them to be equal to or greater than Vishnu or Krishna. They are under him, and they are all inferior to him. They are never equal or superior to Krishna. When a comparison is necessary to establish the supremacy of Lord Vishnu then we may show this indifferently, but not in the spirit of abusing other demigods.
The third offense is that we must have a proper conception of Gurudeva. If we are sincerely searching after the Lord, then the Lord is also approaching us and the meeting point is guru, his representative. Gurudeva must always be seen as the representative of God, not as an ordinary human being. Though we find that he is sleeping, eating or he is suffering from some disease, it is just like the Ganges water – physically it may be filthy, but still it can purify everything. The purifying capacity of the Ganges is not lost by physical dirtiness. Therefore the guru and the Vaishnava should not be seen through the material eye – there is another vision, the spiritual eye, through which they should be estimated.
The fourth offense is sastra-ninda – offending those revealed scriptures that are taking us toward the holy name of the Lord. The scriptures are advising us and if we abuse them, then the holy name is dissatisfied.
The fifth offense is that we should not consult a dictionary to find the meaning of the holy name. Every word, every meaning, if it is taken to its highest sense, goes to the Center. The dictionary, grammar, and any other books of mundane knowledge cannot limit or qualify the holy name.
The sixth offense is to consider the glories of the holy name of Krishna to be a concoction.
The seventh offense is namno-balad yasya hi papa-buddhir. One may think that, “If I chant even one name then all my sins will purified, so let me go on sinning and taking the holy name.” With this spirit if we try to utilize the holy name – to remove dirt from us. That is an offense. That is an abuse of the holy name because we should worship him and serve him. We must not use him in our service in order to remove our contaminations.
The eighth offense is if we think that the holy name is one of so many purificatory pious works. We can serve the country, we can read the holy scriptures, we can wander through the holy places – but to take the holy name as one of these pious activities is to disregard the holy name. The holy name is above all.
The ninth offense is asraddhadhane vimukhe’py asrnvati. This refers to one who does not deserve, who does not have sufficient faith. If for some treacherous purpose we bestow the holy name to him, we commit an offense against the holy name.
The tenth offense is to have a particular attraction for any mundane thing – that attraction must be uprooted. I have to be unprejudiced and become free of any kind of mundane attachment. While taking the holy name, a transformation begins with the mental system and we must try to be unbiased. The holy name will take us from this worldly consciousness to Krishna consciousness with the feeling that, “I am not pressed to go to some unreasonable position. I am going home. It is very sweet. Now I am wondering in a foreign land that is nonsympathetic, but I am really going to my home, under the holy feet of the Lord. All my well-wishers are there.” With this spirit we shall take the name.