Sri Upadesamrta: Text Two, Part Two

The following is another 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.

Useless Talks

To abuse the reign of our self-control and allow ourselves to enter into discussions of anything and everything – that is prajalpa. Prajalpa generally becomes para-dosanusandhana – finding fault with others. That is generally the subject matter of idle talks. When the guardian analyzes this fault within his affectionate disciple to point out and correct him with a sympathetic and graceful eye, he himself will not become contaminated if he is pure enough. When a doctor is treating an infected patient, the infection may naturally come to him. But if the doctor is well guarded it will not infect him as he is conscious of the poisonous nature of the disease and is very careful when he tries to remove it from the body of the patient. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Raghunatha Dasa Goswami:

gramya-katha na sunibe, gramya-varta na kahibe
bhala na khaibe ara bhala na paribe
amani manada haña krsna-nama sada la’be
vraje radha-krsna-seva manase karibe

Do not hear mundane talks and do not engage in them either. Do not eat very luxurious foods, nor should you dress finely. Do not expect prestige, but offer all respect unto others. Always chant the Holy Name of Krishna, and within your mind render service to Radha and Krishna in Vrindavana. ((Cc. Antya 6.236-7))

We must not attend to worldly talk, neither should we engage in that – bhala na khaibe ara bhala na paribe. Don’t seek after the satisfaction of our tongue and belly, and don’t try to wear any good dress to be admired by the people. Amani manada haña krsna-nama sada la’be – give honor to all, but don’t seek honor from anyone. In this way we will take the Holy Name of Krishna continuously.

We are requested to talk about the Supreme Lord, and by that process, all undesirability within us may vanish. Speak always, and only about Krishna. Speaking means reproducing. When we speak something we cannot but be fully attentive. We cannot speak nonsense. When we speak, we must be fully attentive. It is difficult to have concentration within, so preaching or speaking forcibly makes us concentrate on a particular call. It cannot be nonsense to the public. I must be alert in what I am speaking. In that way, it has been selected as the highest form of means to the highest end, in this Kali-yuga especially. But speaking must be done in a proper way:

na yad vacas citra-padam harer yaso
jagat-pavitram pragrnita karhicit
tad vayasam tirtham usanti manasa
na yatra hamsa niramanty usiksayah

Those poetic words that do not glorify Hari, who alone can purify the entire universe, are considered by saints to be like a pilgrimage place for crows where perfected souls find no satisfaction.1

The style, the language, etc. is very beautiful, but if you dive deep you will find no mention of the glories of the Lord. It is lifeless. The outward dress may be very fine and attractive. The decoration may be very nice, but if there is something wrong with the inner substance, then what is the necessity of that? Rather, such words work as poison to us. But on the other hand the outer grandeur may not be so charming, but the very subject, the substance within, if it is nectar-like, then it is a very desirable thing. We must try to accept that. Ignore the ornamental, but accept the substance within – that should be the aim of our life.

tad vag visargo janatagha viplavo
yasminn pratislokam abadavaty api
namani anantasya yaso ‘nkitani yac
srnvanti gayanti grnanti sadhavah

Those works where every verse is written to stir the hearts of impious people are accepted, sung and heard by sadhus, even if they have some defect, because they glorify the Holy Names of the unlimited Supreme Lord.2

Nisedha – prohibition. For example, one should not steal, but the ananya-bhak devotee may steal a flower, take it away and offer to his Deity, but he is stealing. Then how should he be dealt with? Stealing is a crime. The society has set the laws that we will accuse him that, “Why you have stolen?” And he may say that, “I have not stolen. It all belongs to Krishna and for the service of Krishna I am taking it.” If that is his sincere vision then he is not to be punished. If one is stealing for the purpose of Krishna, then that is not stealing, because his vision is so deep he sees that everything belongs to Krishna. It may be forbidden by the laws of society, and even by the sruti-sastra, but if he is really a sincere exclusive devotee of the Lord, none should interfere with his apparent misdeeds.

The Lord is seeing from the absolute standpoint and the relative standpoint cannot come and clash with that. His movements are nirguna (transcendental). But on this saguna (mundane) plane there is a gradual development from tamo-guna (ignorance) to rajo-guna (passion), then sattva-guna (goodness). If they encroach upon the rights of the nirguna, on those who are Krishna’s direct servants, then their relative vision is wrong. He is on the absolute plane. Whatever he is doing, if he considers Krishna to be the unchallenged master of everything, then he is right and they are wrong. That thing belongs to him, this belongs to them, this woman belongs to that gentleman – this is simply a contract amongst you. But from the absolute sense, it does not have any position. Everything belongs to Krishna, and one who works backed by Krishna consciousness is right.

Mundane Association

Jana-sanga means to be very approachable to the ordinary public, for politics, sociality, feeding the poor etc. So many conceptions and ideals are there all around, and to chase them or to be captivated by them is jana-sanga.

Sadhu-sanga means that association which promotes us towards a higher cause, and that which takes us away from that cause is jana-sanga or asat-sanga – just the opposite, a perverted reflection. It must not be maladjusted. Each person should be properly adjusted. We must have eagerness to mix with the sadhus of a higher type. Instead of that, if we allow ourselves to mix with the ordinary public, in the name of preaching or collection or any other thing, that will be detrimental to our cause.

We are finite beings that are lost here. We have a long journey ahead with much trouble, but the disappointment and dejection is minimized if we have good association on that long journey. By talking with them about the Lord, we can go on. We forget the weariness of the journey.

krsna-bhakti-janma-mula haya ‘sadhu-sanga’
krsna-prema janme, tenho punar mukhya anga

The root cause of devotion to Krishna is association with advanced devotees. Even when one’s dormant love for Krishna awakens, the association with devotees is still most essential.3

The very origin of devotion to Krsna comes from the association of the sadhu – krsna-prema janme, tenho punar mukhya anga. And when we acquire a drop of divine love within our heart then also our hope, solace, consolation, health, everything comes from the association of the devotees. The devotees are all in all, from the beginning up to the end. Our favorable companions can help us in our journey towards the Infinite. They are something solid, something concrete – similar in nature to us. Only with the interchange of our thought, good, bad, hope, despair – everything they can appreciate and in a group we can go on.

Otherwise if we are alone we will think, “Oh, what am I doing? I am wild goose chasing.” A reaction may come and we may leave our bhajana and go away. Our Guru Maharaja gave much stress on the association of the devotees.

dusta mana! tumi kisera vaisnava?
pratisthara tare, nirjanera ghare,
tava hari-nama kevala kaitava

O mind, what kind of Vaisnava are you? To gain false prestige you sit in a solitary place, but your chanting of the Holy Name is only cheating. ((Vaisnava ke? 1))

Do you want to take the Holy Name of Krishna in a solitary place? This is a hoax of Maya – she will come and take you by your ear. You won’t be able to fight for a long time if you are alone. Always try to be with others. When you are with so many other devotees you will get strength from one another and a long march will be a very pleasant thing for you. A sincere devotee will always hanker after good association with those who will be able to help him, giving encouragement at every stage. “No, it is very near. Let us go – a little more and then we shall get some clue.” In this way there will be mutual help.

I was once told that Napoleon reached somewhere with his soldiers in a harsh land and they were standing there for a long time. They were very tired and they wanted to take a seat. They could not go on standing any longer. Then Napoleon put them in a circle and asked them to take their seat. Everyone was giving a seat to another by sitting on another’s lap. In this way, in a circle, everyone got a seat. That was the ‘Napoleonic Chair.’ Sadhu-sanga is like that. When my mind is a little depressed, the sadhu will come to encourage me. In this way the journey forwards is very comfortable.

Mental Restlessness

Laulya means weakness of the heart, or weakness of our promise, towards the object of our life. Whatever I find, I engage myself in that. Everything is attracting my attention. We are busy with small petty things that are drawing our attention, and we avoid the real problems of life. We are busy with irrelevant things:

mandasya manda-prajnasya
vayo mandayusas ca vai
nidraya hriyate naktam
diva ca vyartha-karmabhih

Lazy people with little intelligence and a short lifespan pass their nights sleeping and their day performing useless activities.4

We find hundreds of things and if anything and everything comes to capture my attention – that is laulya. We must save ourselves from that nature.

There is no end to engaging our senses. All the senses are busily engaged. There are a thousand engagements and mostly those engagements are those that do not know the real necessity of the self. One who does not know his home, travels in a foreign land satisfying his curiosity by working endlessly. That is to be found in the world. Apasyatam atma-tattvam – this is important. One who has a normal understanding accepts this, not the majority of abnormal thinkers. It is srota-pantha, the revealed truth. That must come from the perfect realm, from God himself. Here is established the indispensable necessity of srota-pantha, the method of revelation. It must come from the perfect realm, from sarvajna, the quarter of omniscience. In those that are unconscious of their own real interest we find thousands of engagements. They are very busy, but very busy about nothing.

srotavyadini rajendra
nrnam santi sahasrasah
apasyatam atma-tattvam
grhesu grha-medhinam

O emperor, those materialistic householders who are bound to their mundane possessions are blind to the knowledge of the self. They are busily engaged in hearing hundreds of thousands of topics within human society. (Bhag. 2.1.2)

nidraya hriyate naktam
vyavayena ca va vayah
diva carthehaya rajan
kutumba-bharanena va

Such people spend their nights engaged in sleep or in sex, while their days are spent collecting money or maintaining their families.5

What do we see if we look around? Two things – nidraya, sleep, or vyavayena, playing with women. Night passes in these two ways. In the daytime, they are in search of money or serving their near relatives. We tend to associate with those that we can exploit, those that supply our sense pleasure. We are surrounded by them.

atma-sainyesu asatsv api
tessam pramatto nidhanam
pasyann api na pasyati

The material body, wife, children and everything in relation to them are like fallible soldiers and those that are overly attached to them, despite their experience, do not see their own imminent destruction.6

We are fully engrossed in the interests of family life for our own sense pleasure. We are so engaged in that sort of false duty that we do not have the leisure to see that our own death is drawing nearer to us. Seeing, but also not seeing. It is a plain thing. I see that everyone is going into the jaws of death, but still I cannot see. I don’t care to see. This is the peculiar position we hold now. The final danger is approaching and I am sleeping through that. I don’t care to take notice of that. What can be stranger than this? Only our particular attention is necessary for the solution. Only a moment is enough. So many trees and mountains and hills are living for years and years, age after age – no benefit. It is not a question of longevity or a question of time. What is necessary is that I turn my attention towards my own self – What am I? Our attention should be drawn to our own real interest.


  1. SB.1.5.10 []
  2. SB.1.5.11)

    The subject matter of our speech should be the Absolute. It may not be ornamented, it may not be grammatically correct, it may have some defect – it does not matter. Grammatical mistakes and other such ornamental mistakes are overlooked by the Lord. He reads the heart – the language of the heart is all in all. The theme must be about the Absolute, and we should always try to pronounce those words. It has been advised in Bhagavatam, in those ten selected stanzas that were given by Narada to Veda Vyasa. That is the basis of Srimad Bhagavatam as we find it now. Speech should always concern the higher. It is dedicated upwards. Vak means words, but words engaged in the service of the highest are known as urdhva-vak. Here is tatastha, below is matter, and on the upper-side is the svarupa-sakti, the internal higher potency of the Lord. Urdhva-vak means connection with the internal potency of the Lord.

    Accepting or Rejecting the Law

    Niyamagraha means to give abnormal attention to any particular ruling. Rulings are always meant for some particular stage, and after passing that stage that ruling is no longer applicable and another ruling we shall have to mark. Just as on Ekadasi – we may be very firm to such a ruling that we must fast wholesale, without taking even a drop of water. But the general rule is that I must keep my body fit for the service of the Lord, so I may take some water. I must not be overly strict to a particular rule, so that the general law will be hampered.

    Niyamagraha has a twofold meaning. Niyama-agraha means too much affinity to abide by the law. Another meaning is niyama-agraha when one does not accept any law at all and is not willing to abide by any law. Both these aspects are bad. We should follow the middle path, the easy path, not the extreme.

    yukta-cestasya karmasu
    yogo bhavati duhkha-ha

    Yoga destroys the suffering of one who is moderate in his eating and relaxation, performs all his activities in a regulated manner and is well balanced in his sleeping and waking. ((BG. 6.16-17 []

  3. Cc. Madhya 22.83 []
  4. SB. 1.16.9 []
  5. SB. 2.1.3 []
  6. SB. 2.1.4 []

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2 Responses to Sri Upadesamrta: Text Two, Part Two

  1. We have a long journey ahead with much trouble, but the disappointment and dejection is minimized if we have good association on that long journey. By talking with them about the Lord, we can go on. We forget the weariness of the journey.

    Very encouraging. Some years ago I was contemplating the fact that attaining nistha might take a hundred lifetimes or so. But if one can be with devotees and listen to the Bhagavatam, it’s not too bad.

  2. Otherwise if we are alone we will think, “Oh, what am I doing? I am wild goose chasing.” A reaction may come and we may leave our bhajana and go away. Our Guru Maharaja gave much stress on the association of the devotees.

    dusta mana! tumi kisera vaisnava?
    pratisthara tare, nirjanera ghare,
    tava hari-nama kevala kaitava

    O mind, what kind of Vaisnava are you? To gain false prestige you sit in a solitary place, but your chanting of the Holy Name is only cheating. ((Vaisnava ke? 1))

    Do you want to take the Holy Name of Krishna in a solitary place? This is a hoax of Maya – she will come and take you by your ear. You won’t be able to fight for a long time if you are alone.”

    Again, Sridhara Maharaja is so generous! I have failed so many times, I cannot maintain my bhajana. I always feel like there is something inherently wrong with me. Yet in this writing Sridhara Maharaja is saying that it just that I have not gone enough after association! And that failure is inevitable without it! So it is not necessarily a fault in myself but just that I’m not going about it properly. Like Shyamananda said, it’s very encouraging.

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