Sri Upadesamrta: Verse Eight, Part One

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Verse 8
tan-nama-rupa-caritadi-sukirtananu
smrtyoh kramena rasana-manasi niyojya
tisthan vraje tad-anuragi jananugami
kalam nayed akhilam ity upadesa-saram

While residing in Vraja under the guidance of a resident of Vraja-dhama, one should spend all their time engaging the mind and tongue in chanting the Holy Name and remembering the Lord’s divine form, qualities, and pastimes. This is the essence of all instructions.

Illumination by B. R. Sridhar-Dev Goswami

There are five stages of the sadhaka. First is the hearing stage—sravana-dasa. The second stage is varana-dasa—acceptance by the guru and the disciple. Then sadhana-dasa—the attempt for realization will begin. This stage is full of struggle; up to sadhana-dasa it is a little painful. Then apana-dasa—the stage of realization. That is very sweet and one feels peaceful in bhava bhakti. Whatever pain is seen there is only apparent. Finally there is prapana-dasa—attainment, the stage of full self-surrender and distribution to others. One is finally detached from relativity and enters into that divine connection. By analysis these are the five stages of sadhana bhakti.

Sometimes we may be misguided into thinking that we must not study books and analyze things, “Why is this knowledge necessary? Jnana is anti-devotional. What is the necessity of knowing what is what? I shall go on chanting the Name and wherever there is any lecture explaining Bhagavatam or Caitanyacaritamrta, I will avoid that. That is all knowledge – “jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva!” We may go on taking the Name, and whenever there is some explanation about devotion we try to avoid it. But this is not good, because if we hear from the proper source we will get some sort of knowledge that gives us impetus for going on in our sadhana.

When any illumination or revelation is coming through a real agent who is higher than us, we should be very earnest to hear those things. That will consolidate our position and help us to go ahead in our sadhana. That should not be eliminated as mere knowledge. That is siddhanta. Who is Krishna, how he is Svayam-Bhagavan, who is Narayana, what are the twenty-four layers of misconception, what is Vaikuntha and Goloka, who is Baladeva, what are the different rasas—if all these things are being explained and I say, “Oh no, it is all jnana, I must dismiss it and take the Name,” then this is foolishness. Such thoughts should be considered as indolence. This knowledge will advance our faith most profoundly and such discussions should be automatically invited.

Twenty-Four Hours Service

One western gentleman once stated that there are many conceptions of religion in different parts of the world, but we do not find any conception of religion where twenty-four hours a day can be devoted to the service of the Supreme Lord. Not only Sunday, not only twice in the day, not only thrice in the day, but every hour and second devoted in the service of the Supreme Entity with nothing left behind. That is never to be found anywhere but in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. This sort of service is only possible in kirtaniya sada harih and in the asta-kaliya lila of Sri Krishnacandra himself in the madhurya-rasa.

Madhurya-rasa is the total rasa, and the most intense of all rasas. It is all accommodating. Twenty-four hours engagement in the service of Krishna is only possible in madhurya-rasa. There is the possibility of tiredness in all other rasas, even vatsalya-rasa. Sometimes the father or mother may think, “I am too tired, I shall make arrangements a little later.” But in madhurya-rasa, there is no such reaction. Of course, all these things are of a very high order.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has shown, as has Kaviraja Goswami in his Govinda-lilamrta, the eight praharas—twenty-four hours service. One prahara is a fourth part of a day or night. Twenty-four hours is divided into eight praharas, and this is known as asta-kaliya. Visvanatha Cakravarti has written about this in his Sri Krishna-bhavanamrta. There he has given the asta-kaliya lila in radha-dasyam—how the she-friends and servitors of Radharani have their twenty-four hours duty in the camp of Radhika in Her service. Radharani is already wholly given to Krishna, there is no question and their twenty-four hours program is explained elaborately by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. However, Sri Krishna-bhavanamrta is for the higher students only.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura also explained these things in Jaiva-dharma but with great caution. We have gone through Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s writings, but we did not miss his warnings. We must be practical in our attempt for such things are not imaginary. Some westerners think that eastern philosophy is something like imagination so they pass through it very quickly without giving attention to so many steps. This means they are self-deceivers.

One who desires real sincere improvement will not omit any steps. Sraddha, sadhu-sanga, bhajana-kriya, anartha-nivrtti, ruci, asakti, then bhava. They must be true to their own self whether they have followed each of these steps. Raga-marga proper begins at bhava-bhakti. Up to the awakening of real bhava one must follow vaidhi bhakti and anartha-nivrtti in order to be sure that attraction for any charm of this material world has gone altogether. But those who are self-deceivers want it very cheaply. They want to buy very cheap food without proper payment. Dhira means a master of his own senses. Only such a devotee is qualified to try to enter into this flavor, not those who are not masters of their own senses.

naitat samacarej jatu
manasapi hy anisvarah
vinasyaty acaran maudhyad
yatha’rudro ‘bdhi-jam visam

One who is not a great controller should never imitate the behavior of ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behavior, he will simply destroy himself, just as a person who is not Rudra would destroy himself if he tried to drink an ocean of poison.1

Due to ignorance, if anyone ventures to enter into this domain even mentally, then, vinasyati—he will be doomed. If he is not Shiva, if he takes poison, he is sure to die. Siva drank poison but it became an ornament on his throat. But one who is not Shiva, if he takes poison, he will die. One who is not dhira and has no control over their senses, if they venture to enter into this domain, they are sure to die. This warning is given in Bhagavatam by Sukadeva Goswami. It is nectar, but still you must come and take it properly. There is a possibility of mistaking it for your awkward enjoyment and then you will be doomed forever.

The higher literatures for the highly realized souls should not be propagated in a very broad way. They are only meant for a very select few who can come up to that mark and have entrance to discuss and think and work according to that high direction. But the general requirement is sraddha for Mahaprabhu and sraddha for Krishna Consciousness. Madhurya-rasa in particular and parakiya—these two planes may be misunderstood by the general people. It is beyond their conception that we can relate with God as a wife or mistress. As a wife maybe possible to accommodate, but as a mistress of God? That is impossible! The conception of Godhead and the conception of His mistress at the same time are impossible to conceive for the ordinary intellect.

Who Will Take Such a Risk?

Our Guru Maharaja once told us that there was one scholar in Dacca University who used to teach Sanskrit literature to the post-graduate students and there was one girl who was his student in that class. That gentleman was a good scholar and he used to teach from the books written by Rupa Goswami—Ujjvala-nilamani, etc. Prabhupada objected to this, “What is he teaching? This subject matter is not for school students. Only the highest religious preachers have entrance in that domain and he is taking it like this!” Later, it so happened that that gentleman married that young girl. When that happened our Guru Maharaja explained that this occurred because that fellow did not understand the dignified position of Rupa Goswami. Such high topics should not be brought to the ordinary people. It should be kept for selected people only, such as those who are on the level of Uddhava:

asam aho carana-renu-jusam aham syam
vrndavane kim api gulma-latausadhinam
ya dustyajam sva-janam arya-patham ca hitva
bhejur mukunda-padavim srutibhir vimrgyam

My desire is to become a blade of grass or a creeper that grows in the forest of Vraja. In that way, it will be possible for me to receive the dust of the feet of those great personalities who have worshiped the lotus feet of the great liberator, Mukunda. The dust of the feet of these great personalities is sought after even by the Vedas. Leaving aside the affection of their own kith and kin, which is ordinarily impossible to give up, the Gopis of Vraja have sacrificed everything for the satisfaction of Sri Krsna.2

Sva-janam arya-patham ca—we must be willing to sacrifice the relationships of those whom we consider to be our kith and kin, our own intimate friends. Arya-patha – those who are recommended by the stalwarts or the leaders of the gregarious society should also be given up. So much risk! Who will come forward to take such a risk? A bad name and even the least help we can expect from our nearest and dearest. All eliminated! Taking the fullest risk to cast ourselves towards one who is an Autocrat – but beautiful. Such a degree of sacrifice was considered to be the highest even by Uddhava, the greatest of the devotees, whom Krishna Himself describes in His own words:

na tatha me priyatama
atmayonir na sankarah
na ca sankarsano na srir
naivatma ca yatha bhavan

Neither Brahma, nor Siva, nor Sankarsana of Vaikuntha, nor the goddess of fortune Laksmidevi, nor even my own self is as dear to me as you. You are my favorite, Uddhava.3

And Uddhava speaks so highly about the Gopis. Such things are not to be dragged into the ordinary intellect of the common audience. That is srutibhir vimrgyam—even the Vedas are only showing the direction for they cannot fully express it. It is the highest point of revelation. They can only point from a distance and show that Krishna lila is the highest lila on this side. We can’t express that—this is the attitude of the revealed scriptures of the highest order. You should not venture to drag the whole thing into this mundane world. We must keep this on our heads.

Pujala raga-patha gaurava-bhange—the very tenor of the preaching of our Guru Maharaja was this. He worshipped the patha, the way of raga – the highest love. He did not try to bring it down here. Hold this on your head—the raga-patha, the way of love to attain him! Tread all possible stages of learning with a respectable attitude about the Supreme. Always keep the highest form of love affairs above your head. Otherwise, if you think you have obtained that, you are finished! You are doomed! It is not so cheap! Don’t try to make it very cheap. It is very difficult.

The preceeding 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.

  1. Bhag. 10.33.30 []
  2. Bhag.10.47.61 []
  3. Bhag. 11.14.15 []


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