Sri Upadesamrta: Text Three, Part One

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.

Text Three

utsahan-niscayad dhairyat tat-tat-karma-pravartanat sanga-tyagat sato-vrtteh sadbhir bhakti˙ prasidhyati

Eagerness, confidence, forbearance, following the spiritual practices ordained by the scriptures, giving up the company of materialists and following in the footsteps of the pure sadhus – these six practices enhance devotion.

Illumination by B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami

Eagerness should always be to serve the wishes of the highest plane of Krishna bhakti. That is very, very rarely to be found in this mundane world. We shall be eager to catch the telegraphic language of the highest plane. We must try to catch that and be subservient to that. That should be the nature of our quest and the utilization of our energy. How to develop that? With the contact of the sadhu and with the help of the scriptures we can try to increase that inner feeling, that inner demand. That inner demand can only be satisfied by Krishna consciousness. The source of eagerness is only from a real sadhu. We will find some interest to hear about the Lord from him. The proper beginning is there. The bhakti school is independent of varnasrama or jnana etc. One may not be a wise man, one may not be a very energetic man, one may not be master of opulence and other powers. Only the minimum is demanded from him – that he has very earnest hunger. He must have the smallest taste for the Lord. He must find some sweetness, some taste in his words, in his affairs when it is coming from a proper source through a genuine sadhu, a proper agent. That taste will take him farther and gradually into the highest domain. Laulyam api mulyam ekalam – the only passage-money is our sincere inclination. The hearts natural flow – that is the passage-money, nothing else. Our sincere earnestness to get that is the only price we have to pay in advance. No other price but earnest desire. It is not to be purchased by any money or anything else which is acquired by so many formal practices in millions of births. Substance is necessary and not form. Form may be adopted only as much as it may connect me with that higher thing. Sarva dharman parityaja – “Give up all phases of duty that you perceive as perfect. At once try to jump into the ocean of nectar. I am the ocean of nectar. Try to jump.” That is the direct teaching. Our addiction to this or that, to vanaprastha-dharma, sannyasa-dharma, or grhastha-dharma has a very negligent value. But earnest desire – that is to be acquired by any means. That is bhakti proper.

tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam janma-koti-sukrtair na labhyate

The only price to pay is intense eagerness for that is not obtained even after millions of births.1

Not by your good deeds that you have acquired in your previous innumerable paths – that is not taken in to account, only the recognition of the sincere earnestness within you. The very gist of your ego they want. That is their demand and that plane is built up with that material. The most sincere part of the heart – that is the material by which that domain has been created. It is eternal but it is with that substance. Back to home, back to the home of your eternal inner self. Externally, by so many of our demands for the senses, we are being carried forcibly in this direction and that direction, dragging us here and there. We have to find out our innermost existence. That is to be a member of Vrindavana. Confidence Confidence means raksisyati-visvaso (expecting the Lord’s protection). That is a particular stage of saranagati. I will have so much confidence that he will protect me from any danger. One may run to protect oneself knowing there is danger, but still he is thinking, “My guardian will save me. Whom do I care for? I don’t care for anyone. He is my master and he is there on my head; he will protect me.” There is no necessity of any apprehension from any quarter at all. Saranagati reaches to such a zenith, to such a height that not only will he save me if I go on in a right way, I shall risk everything for the Lord, and if necessary, he may come to my relief. Such audacious aggression is there. This may be found in all stages. That particular mentality is there in the ordinary soldier – he has got confidence in his general. They may take the risk of entering the camp of the enemy thinking, “The general will come and devastate them.” It may be found in many places, in many stages of life. But here, that confidence is found not in this world, but in the highest quarter. That sort of confidence, that “For whom do we care?” So much indulgence they enjoy, so much confidence they enjoy, so much faith they have in their protector that they do not care about anyone or anything. They will even go to catch a snake or a tiger. Jiva Goswami Prabhu has discussed that goptrtve-varana (praying for the Lord’s shelter) is the main thing in the whole of saranagati. That is the whole gist, the substance – to pray to him for his shelter. “You are my protector.” That is the main thing in the whole of saranagati and all others are subsidiary. To maintain the faith that he will save us – he cannot but do this. The question will remain whether I have surrendered totally or not. My ego – has it allowed me to surrender to his holy feet fully or is it self-deception? The question is there. There is no doubt that if anyone surrenders to him totally, he will protect him – that is unquestionable. But the question remains here whether I have successfully surrendered myself to him or not. Self-analysis. That is the truth. It is his intrinsic nature that at all times his eternal habit is that he will protect whoever comes under the shelter of his protection. That is one of his intrinsic characteristics. It cannot be otherwise. However, the question is only whether I can surrender to him or not. To offer one’s own self. To cast one’s own self to his custody, and at the same time to go on with the idea that he will surely protect me. The example is given by Bhaktivinoda Thakura – the cow boys are welcoming so many risks in their life backed by the confidence that, “My friend is there and he will surely protect me.”

raksa karabi tuhun niscaya jani pana korobun hama yamuna-pani kaliya-dokha karabi vinasa sodhobi nadi-jala, badaobi asa

I am confident that You will protect me, so I will drink the waters of the Yamuna. Kaliya’s venom will be vanquished. You will purify the waters of the Yamuna, and such heroic acts will increase our faith.2

In a part of the Yamuna a serpent was living and his poison contaminated the whole area. But the cowherd friends of Krishna did not care for that. At the bottom of their heart, they were so confident of Krishna’s continuous assistance at their back, they were going and rushing towards that poisonous thing and swallowing poison. “Oh, Krishna is at our back, whom do I fear? We don’t fear anyone.” They are going into the Kaliya ghata, that poisonous place on the Yamuna, and they are drinking that water and fainting, but without any fear. “My friend is there. We do not care for any poison or anything. He will save us. He will protect us.” They went ahead to invite danger with that confidence. “We don’t care for any danger because our support, our friend is there who has got some supernatural power.” Then Krishna had to go and again revive them from the poisonous effect. Generally they are always in a position that they do not want that, “You protect me!” Very rarely – as in the case of Govardhana where the whole locality prayed for protection from Indra the king of heaven, when his annual worship was closed. Indra was very much enraged and he wanted to punish the general section of that gostha (group) by heavy rain, hail, storm, and thunder. Then the whole gostha came and took refuge of Krishna, “You protect us from this great destruction.” And Krishna managed. Otherwise they are always fostering this idea that, “He is there, our protector. We do not care for anything else. We are not afraid of any danger. He is there. He cannot but protect us.” That is the idea they maintain. In sakhya-rasa that raksisyati-visvaso is very, very clear, and at the same time there is some challenging at the time of play. “You could not do this. I gained over you. You failed.” Such homely play – God and his servant appear to be in equal positions on the surface. Sometimes the Lord even holds a lower position. Family life, sweet family life – and the devotees of the higher type see devotion only when the Absolute is defeated. That peculiar thing is devotion. That is yogamaya. Devotion means leaving everything, and saying that, “We want devotion only. If we get devotion, the Absolute will come to our door.” Devotion is such – devotion is all in all. Where is it found that the servant has defeated the master? That is devotion. There you can trace what is devotion. Aham bhaktaparadhino hy asvatantra iva dvija – “My absolutism is forgotten at that time. I forget that. I go as one of them sometimes. I approach them to serve.” That peculiar thing is devotion. It is so high. How will this worldly energy and knowledge cope with it? Devotion means mystique, miracle. Goptrtve-varana is to invite him as our protector and raksisyati-visvaso is to believe that he will surely protect me. The first part is to invite him, to pray to him, ”Please protect me. I am under your protection, accept me.” And then to maintain the idea that, “He will surely protect me, in all possible danger he will come.” Two parts. Saranagati is one and the same, but if analyzed then these parts are found there. Forbearance We should not think that our path will be very smooth. So many troubles may come from outside. In India, when you go out in the streets with the kirtana party, so many may come and say, “You monkeys! Lal-bandara – you red-faced monkeys!” These things must come to you from so many directions, in so many forms of hindrances and opposition. They will come and try to affect you, to dissuade you from this path. But, taror api sahisnuna – the example of a tree is given and that is analyzed. If somebody does not pour any water, the tree does not say, “Oh, give some water to me!” If anyone is coming and disturbing, snatching the leaves, cutting the branches – even cutting the whole thing, the tree is silent. No opposition. We should rather try to see that insults, poverty, punishment, and unfavorable dealings are all coming to purify me. These things are necessary and with the least punishment I am going to be released. I have become connected with the highest object of life, but what price am I going to pay for that? What price? I am confident that I am going to attain the highest fulfillment of life, but what price is sufficient for that? It is inconceivable. Whatever little demand comes to be exacted from you, with a smiling face you have to accept that in consideration of your highest goal. If you are really confident and you have faith in your brightest future, then whatever small price nature wants through these miscreants – that must be accepted. Submissiveness and modesty – that is the law of Mahaprabhu. Trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna amanina manadena – these things must be repeatedly preached. Trnad api sunicena means I must not be so rigid that I may not accommodate others. Taror api sahisnuna – if still someone is aggressive towards to me, I shall try to tolerate. And amani –I must never insist on any fame from the environment, still I will always be ready to give honor to all. With this attitude we should march on our way. This maxim should be given a very broad circulation. To become a Vaishnava we must be deceit-free and have discipline of this type and this comes from none other than Mahaprabhu himself. Once we were told that our Gaura-kisora Dasa Babaji Maharaja was doing madhukari-bhiksa and was returning to his quarters. The people did not spare him either. The boys were pelting him with some small stones and he remarked, “Krishna, you are cruelly dealing with me! I shall complain to Mother Yasoda about you.” That was his outlook. Harmonized! When anything came and he would say, “Oh Krishna, by philosophical calculation, without you nothing can happen. You are with these children and you are disturbing me and I shall teach you a lesson. I know how to deal with You.” In that way, he took everything like that. That is our beacon light to adjust with things that are apparently unfavorable. A sweet adjustment is there. Don’t give any opposition – still opposition will come to disturb you and you must forbear. You will accept them in such a way. We should not create resistance for the environment. If there is some attack, some undesirable things come towards me, I am to forbear that to my utmost patience. I am to silently tolerate. I won’t harm. Our attitude should be this – whatever comes, this is earned by my previous karma. My previous karma has earned such an environment and it is a necessity to teach me. And whenever my teaching will finish, the environment will change. Whatever the circumstance, the environment may be undesirable but if we are sincere we must take it with a good motive because the Lord has sent it. Without his sanction nothing can happen. Not even a straw can move. I am put in such an unfavorable environment – he is seeing this thing and as soon as this necessity ends it will be removed and I shall be placed in another environment. There is no error in his decision. In the divine decision there cannot be any error. We have to face all circumstances with such an attitude.

tat te’nukampam su-samiksamano bhuñjana evatma-krtam vipakam hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya-bhak

One who lives his life while joyfully seeing everything as your mercy even as he experiences the adverse conditions arising from his past deeds, and constantly pays respects to you with his mind, body and words, is certain to attain your lotus feet, the object of all devotion.3

It is our environment, our own past deeds. I must not quarrel with what my own deeds have produced, but I must finish this effect. It is necessary for me. And as soon as the necessity will be finished, it will be withdrawn and I will be put in another separate environment. We have to wait for the decision, the divine dispensation. That will be the highest policy. The most sacred, desirable and helpful policy is everywhere. It will increase our faith in the Supreme. The supreme command of all environments may come now or in the future. This policy of a devotee will be most suitable and helpful. Tat te’nukampam susamiksamano – the undesirable things have not come suddenly to punish me, but it is necessarily self-acquired and it will get its fulfillment and then vanish, and then I shall get another chance. But if I avoid this, it may be finished for now but again it will come to clear my debt. With this attitude we should face all circumstances, and that will be the best attitude of any progressive devotee.

  1. Cc. Madhya 8.70 []
  2. Saranagati 3.6 []
  3. SB. 10.14.8 []


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One Response to Sri Upadesamrta: Text Three, Part One

  1. Our attitude should be this – whatever comes, this is earned by my previous karma. My previous karma has earned such an environment and it is a necessity to teach me. And whenever my teaching will finish, the environment will change. Whatever the circumstance, the environment may be undesirable but if we are sincere we must take it with a good motive because the Lord has sent it. Without his sanction nothing can happen. Not even a straw can move. I am put in such an unfavorable environment – he is seeing this thing and as soon as this necessity ends it will be removed and I shall be placed in another environment. There is no error in his decision. In the divine decision there cannot be any error. We have to face all circumstances with such an attitude.

    This is a powerful quote I have read many times. I find it to be profoundly true, but not so easy to apply. To face the environment and work through it bravely and see Krsna’s merciful hand in it all. This is the substance of anartha-nvrtti and as so often sadhus say it is not for the weak hearted. Yet, this is the progressive path to our sublime potential.

    I have also experienced in my own life as well as in the lives of many sadhakas that if we attempt to run or hide or fight, it comes back in another form to bite us in the bum and sometimes even harder. : )

    The commentary on Upadesamrta by Srila Sridhara Maharaja is such a treasure. I feel fortunate to have been exposed to his teachings. They have most certainly shed light on some of the deepest darkest corners of my heart.

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