Published on May 7th, 2013 | by Harmonist staff3
Sri Upadesamrta: Verse 8, Part 2
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.
Smarana and Kirtana
Some acaryas are of the opinion that smarana is more important than kirtana, because smarana is exclusively connected with consciousness, or is more concerned with the subtle part of our existence. They feel that smarana is the most effective form of sadhana. But our Guru Maharaja, Jiva Goswami, and also Kaviraja Goswami Prabhu laid stress on kirtana—especially for beginners. Our Guru Maharaja clearly said that smarana, in a lower position, is injurious. We should take to sankirtana.
kirtana-prabhave, smarana haibe
se kale bhajana-nirjana sambhava
Smarana can only occur by the power of kirtana, and only at that time is solitary bhajana possible. (Vaisnava ke? – 19)
When one is exclusively devoted and unconscious of the environment, then one may go on with his smarana within. But this is not at all possible for the beginners. Jiva Goswami Prabhu says, yadyapi anya bhaktih kalau kartavya tada kirtanakhy bhakti- samyojanenaiva—all other forms of sadhana must be subservient to kirtana. This is the preaching of Mahaprabhu, because in Kali-yuga, kirtana has its own characteristic. If any acarya has stressed smarana anywhere then that only means that kirtana is relative to the material environment and smarana is independent of material consideration. With this consciousness they may have recommended that smarana is highest. But this is not accepted in a general way.
The sahajiyas are fond of smarana rather than kirtana. They are followers of the secluded life and in their mind they go on with smarana. They collect information of their age, their identification as a particular sakhi, and her place of attendance in a particular lila under the guidance of particular sakhi, in a particular place in Vrindavana—all these things. They are required to go on meditating on these things with their socalled devotion. This is the process of the sahajiyas. But we do not attend to that practice—it is all imagination. They are not fit for that plane. They do not have any real sambandha-jnana or actual knowledge of their relationship with Krishna. They only go on with their habituated repetition of a particular mental speculation. The stage of anartha-nivrti and the progress based on that is not be accepted by them.
That which they consider to have achieved is a mere concoction. They are not aware of the actual facts. It is all self-deception, but they think it to be smarana. Gaura-kisora Dasa Babaji Maharaja has given an example. Babaji Maharaja used to live in a very small hut on the banks of the Ganges. Another gentleman, imitating him, erected a similar cottage nearby and went on imitating Babaji Maharaja—doing madhukari, sitting and meditating, wearing his cloth in such a way, eating, not eating, taking bath, and some days not taking bath. Then one day Babaji Maharaja remarked, “Only by entering a labor room, a girl does not produce a child. Many things are necessary beforehand.”
In other words, by imitating a paramahamsa, bhajana cannot be practiced. The sahajiyas are laboring hard externally to produce some child, but our Guru Maharaja said that it is not an easy thing.
muktanam api siddhanam
O great sage, among many millions that are liberated and perfect in the knowledge of liberation, one may actually be a devotee of Narayana. Such devotees, who are most peaceful, are extremely rare. (Bhag. 6.14.5)
na uthiya vrksopari, tanatani phala dhari
dusta-phala karile arjana
If you want to collect the fruits by shaking the tree, but not by climbing the branches then you will only get the fruits that are bad. (Kalyana-kalpataru 1.18)
Imitation is Not Success
Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that if one wants some fruits without taking the labor of climbing the tree, then what sort of fruits will he get? You have to climb the tree and then you can get the fruit. Otherwise it is only your imagination. Suddha-sattva – the plane of pure goodness means that one must have connection with the real plane, yet there are so many planes:
upajiya bade lata brahmanda bhedi jaya
viraja brahmaloka bhedi paravyoma paya
tabe jaya tadupari goloka-vrindavana
krsna-carana-kalpa-vrkse kare arohana
The creeper of devotion sprouts and begins to grow until it penetrates the coverings of the universe, crosses the Viraja River, passes through the Brahmaloka until it reaches the spiritual sky. From there, it continues to grow until it reaches Goloka Vrindavana where it wraps around the desire tree of Krishna’s lotus feet. (Cc. Madhya 19.154)
Mahaprabhu says that when the creeper of bhakti rises up to Goloka she has to cross these planes – first Bhur, Bhuvah, Svah, Maha, Jana, Tapa, Satyaloka, and Brahmaloka. But the sahajiyas do not care to know what is Viraja, what is Brahmaloka and what is the Brahmanda. They will only go to a guru, get some mantra and go on meditating. But at such a stage, if they meditate on the lila of Radha-Govinda, then instead of Radha- Govinda lila they will get entangled with the ladies and gents of this world. They will be entangled in the domain of lust and will have to go to hell instead of going up to Goloka. Imitation is not success—imitation degrades. The mind is another thing. The mind is not sraddha for sraddha is connected with the soul and the mind is connected with matter. The mind is material.
Therefore the mind cannot produce sraddha. Sraddha is an original, fundamental thing. When sraddha awakens, the mind vanishes. Darkness cannot produce light – when light comes, darkness vanishes. Similarly, when truth comes, all mental speculation vanishes. There is subtle and gross – bhumir apo’nalo vayuh kham mano buddhir eva ca. Earth, water, fire, and air are gross and mind, intellect, and false ego are subtle. The mind is a product of the material potency, apara-sakti, and the jiva is a product of the spiritual potency, para-sakti—the principal potency. Mano-dharma, mental speculation, has got nothing to do with truth. Mano-dharma is drawn from the material world, the world of misconception. Avan-manasa gocara—the mind cannot reach to the stage of perceiving the truth proper. It is only related to mundane things. The mind comes from the false ego and is made up of the exploiting tendency. We have to get relief from that. We are surrounded by such poisonous thoughts.
danam sva-dharmo niyamo yamas ca
crutam ca karmani ca sad-vratani
paro hi yogo manasah samadhih
Giving in charity, prescribed duties, observance of rules and regulations, hearing the scriptures, pious activities and sacred vows – all these are undertaken to subdue the mind. Indeed, concentration of the mind is considered to be the greatest type of yoga. (Bhag.11.23.45)
All types of sadhana demands that the mind should be destroyed—mano-nigraha-laksanantah. There may be different forms and types of sadhana, but they all agree on this point—the mind must be finished.
Kind of stuck tween a rock and a hard place, us. No sukriti for Raga-bhakti, and no attraction for vaidhi bhakti.. So many anarthas and are they nirvrittieing themselves away? Not so’s you’d notice anyways. And so the convenient philosophy arises, “just try to serve this lifetime, and with guru and Krishna pleased with your surrender, at the end of life, go back home, back to Godhead, and resume your eternal relationship with Krishna.. What is the difficulty?? No need for getting into sahajiya areas like raganuga bhakti. Keep it simple! Just chant and go to the Sunday feast.. Your life will be sublime, and no more births and death..”
I don’t think the is the teaching of the Gaudiya Math nor Srila Sridhara Maharaja here. The idea is that we keep it simple and serve Hari and guru while keeping the raga-marga as our worshipable ideal. And naturally, in time, we will come into raganuga-bhakti. This is encapsulated in the verse of Bhaktisiddhanta’s that Srila Sridhara Maharaja so loved and engraved on his math: pujala raga patha gaurava bhange, mathala hari-jana visaya range. Similarly, in Bhaktisiddhanta’s famous lecture at radha-kunda he stresses that we should NOT think this asta-kaliya lila smaranam is the property of the sahajiyas. Rather, it is “ours”. The difference being we seek to approach it on its terms, entering into it only when such longing naturally occurs. I concur that this portion is either a) an instance of Srila Sridhara Maharaja being more rigid and forceful than he typically is (and of course we lack the context of the original transcription), or b) edited so as to make a particularly forceful point. Without referencing the unedited transcriptions it is hard to say.
I agree Nitai! Sridhar M. was tricky that way.. I recall in Follow the Angels where he quoted Raghunatha D.G. as saying that even Radharani wanted him to stay in Das rasa. Took me a while to realize that what Das Goswami was saying was that Radharani wanted him to be a manjari.. It’s from Vilap Kusumanjali. LOL!! Sridhar M. was and is the guardian on the gateway to devotion.. so it’s understandable that he puts up some obstacles to the inner realms of Gaudiya Vaisnavism… the secret kunjas.. it is very confidential information..
It is a bit disconcerting though, to see philosophies arising that discount raganuga bhakti altogether. The philosophy that we are all going back home, back to Godhead this lifetime, regardless of whether we have developed a spiritual identity, or even an Ishtadeva has a couple of negative repurcussions..
First it makes raga bhakti seem inconsequential, a strange side show of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, when it really is the heart of Mahaprabhu’s mission. And secondly, lowering the bar to get liberation into Vaikuntha,(for that is the destination for those who practice generalized random devotion) makes the endeavor for anartha nirvritti somewhat meaningless. And if folks are not working on themselves in a serious way, then the whole other half of Prabhupada’s mission, developing spiritual communities, becomes very difficult.. A sanga of devotees with big anarthas like the controlling and enjoying mentality, does not make for harmony and co-operation. Just having on tulasi beads does not make one perfect! It takes years and lifetimes of work, and the help of sadhus and shiksha gurus. But it is a very satisfying occupation, getting beyond selfishness, and it leads to happiness in sattva guna if not actual liberation. Sridhar M. also said in Follow the Angels, that even if you are not able to exist on the platform of raga bhakti, practicing lila smaranam, there are many other levels that are very interesting and rewarding. And that is so true! Any step towards Vraj is a part of a deeply satisfying journey. And as we used to say, ‘if you take one step towards Krishna, He takes ten steps towards you.’