Living on Grace

Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Goswami on the deeper understanding of the six loving exchanges.

We can increase our attraction and love for a sadhu by giving him raw items and by accepting his prasadam—to give and to take. To give items to be utilized by him, and to accept whatever is necessary for ourselves, but nothing new.

We won’t try to take anything new, but we will wish only for something which has been used by the guru and Vaisnavas, whether it be a garland, clothes, decorations, or whatever. We shall try to live by the remnants of the Vaisnavas. We shall present new things to the sadhus, and we shall try to live by their remnants.

Guhyam akhyati—I should reveal my innermost feelings to the sadhu: “From my innermost heart I feel these many particular things within me. Are these feelings good or bad? And if bad, what is the remedy?” We shall place our inner heart before him so he may examine and proceed accordingly.

Prcchati—we shall inquire from the sadhu, “What is the secret of your holy life? Please tell me and I shall try to follow that example in order to get out of my present circumstances. In your case how did you gain relief?” We shall try to collect the secrets of success of life from a sadhu.

Bhunkte bhojayate caiva—we shall feed him, and accept his prasadam.

If we follow the above guidelines we shall come closer to a person. If we deal in these ways with a bad man we shall become bad, and with a good man we shall become good. There are two types of water: filtered and filthy. Filthy water can be purified. The higher sadhus can take evil thoughts from others without becoming contaminated. In their hearts resides Govinda. Govinda is infinite and he can consume any quantity of filthy things, therefore their hearts cannot be contaminated.

The six loving exchanges:

dadati pratigrhnati guhyam akhyati prcchati
bhunkte bhojayate caiva sad-vidham priti-laksanam

“Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasadam, and offering prasadam are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another.”

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