Ādi 1: The Spiritual Masters
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is none other than the combined form of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. He is the life of those devotees who strictly follow in the footsteps of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī are the two principal followers of Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī, who acted as the most confidential servitor of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu, known as Viśvambhara in His early life. A direct disciple of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī was Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. The author of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, stands as the direct disciple of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī.
The direct disciple of Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī was Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, who accepted Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī as his servitor. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura accepted Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī, the spiritual master of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, who in turn accepted Śrīla Gaurakiśora dāsa Bābājī, the spiritual master of Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, the divine master of our humble self.
Since we belong to this chain of disciplic succession from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, this edition of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta will contain nothing newly manufactured by our tiny brains, but only remnants of food originally eaten by the Lord Himself. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu does not belong to the mundane plane of the three qualitative modes. He belongs to the transcendental plane beyond the reach of the imperfect sense perception of a living being. Even the most erudite mundane scholar cannot approach the transcendental plane unless he submits himself to transcendental sound with a receptive mood, for in that mood only can one realize the message of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. What will be described herein, therefore, has nothing to do with the experimental thoughts created by the speculative habits of inert minds. The subject matter of this book is not a mental concoction but a factual spiritual experience that one can realize only by accepting the line of disciplic succession described above. Any deviation from that line will bewilder the reader’s understanding of the mystery of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, which is a transcendental literature meant for the postgraduate study of one who has realized all the Vedic literatures such as the Upaniṣads and Vedānta-sūtra and their natural commentaries such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and the Bhagavad-gītā.
This edition of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta is presented for the study of sincere scholars who are really seeking the Absolute Truth. It is not the arrogant scholarship of a mental speculator but a sincere effort to serve the order of a superior authority whose service is the life and soul of this humble effort. It does not deviate even slightly from the revealed scriptures, and therefore anyone who follows in the disciplic line will be able to realize the essence of this book simply by the method of aural reception.
The first chapter of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta begins with fourteen Sanskrit verses that describe the Absolute Truth. Then the next three Sanskrit verses describe the principal Deities of Vṛndāvana, namely, Śrī Rādhā-Madana-mohana, Śrī Rādhā-Govindadeva and Śrī Rādhā-Gopīnāthajī. The first of the fourteen verses is a symbolic representation of the Supreme Truth, and the entire first chapter is in actuality devoted to this single verse, which describes Lord Caitanya in His six different transcendental expansions.
The first manifestation described is the spiritual master, who appears in two plenary parts called the initiating spiritual master and instructing spiritual master. They are identical because both of them are phenomenal manifestations of the Supreme Truth. Next described are the devotees, who are divided into two classes, namely, the apprentices and the graduates. Next are the incarnations (avatāras) of the Lord, who are explained to be nondifferent from the Lord. These incarnations are considered in three divisions — incarnations of the potency of the Lord, incarnations of His qualities, and incarnations of His authority. In this connection, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s direct manifestations and His manifestations for transcendental pastimes are discussed. Next considered are the potencies of the Lord, of which three principal manifestations are described: the consorts in the kingdom of God (Vaikuṇṭha), the queens of Dvārakā-dhāma and, highest of all, the damsels of Vrajadhāma. Finally, there is the Supreme Lord Himself, who is the fountainhead of all these manifestations.
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His plenary expansions are all in the category of the Lord Himself, the energetic Absolute Truth, whereas His devotees, His eternal associates, are His energies. The energy and energetic are fundamentally one, but since their functions are differently exhibited, they are simultaneously different also. Thus the Absolute Truth is manifested in diversity in one unit. This philosophical truth, which is pursuant to the Vedānta-sūtra, is called acintya-bhedābheda-tattva, or the conception of simultaneous oneness and difference. In the latter portion of this chapter, the transcendental position of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and that of Śrīla Nityānanda Prabhu are described with reference to the above theistic facts.
tat-prakāśāṁś ca tac-chaktīḥ
citrau śan-dau tamo-nudau
ya ātmāntar-yāmī puruṣa iti so ’syāṁśa-vibhavaḥ
ṣaḍ-aiśvaryaiḥ pūrṇo ya iha bhagavān sa svayam ayaṁ
na caitanyāt krṣṇāj jagati para-tattvaṁ param iha
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ
ekātmānāv api bhuvi purā deha-bhedaṁ gatau tau
caitanyākhyaṁ prakaṭam adhunā tad-dvayaṁ caikyam āptaṁ
rādhā-bhāva-dyuti-suvalitaṁ naumi kṛṣṇa-svarūpam
svādyo yenādbhuta-madhurimā kīdṛśo vā madīyaḥ
saukhyaṁ cāsyā mad-anubhavataḥ kīdṛśaṁ veti lobhāt
tad-bhāvāḍhyaḥ samajani śacī-garbha-sindhau harīnduḥ
garbhoda-śāyī ca payo ’bdhi-śāyī
śeṣaś ca yasyāṁśa-kalāḥ sa nityā-
nandākhya-rāmaḥ śaraṇaṁ mamāstu
rūpaṁ yasyodbhāti saṅkarṣaṇākhyaṁ
taṁ śrī-nityānanda-rāmaṁ prapadye
śete sākṣāt kāraṇāmbhodhi-madhye
yasyaikāṁśaḥ śrī-pumān ādi-devas
taṁ śrī-nityānanda-rāmaṁ prapadye
loka-sraṣṭuḥ sūtikā-dhāma dhātus
taṁ śrī-nityānanda-rāmaṁ prapadye
poṣṭā viṣṇur bhāti dugdhābdhi-śāyī
kṣauṇī-bhartā yat-kalā so ’py anantas
taṁ śrī-nityānanda-rāmaṁ prapadye
māyayā yaḥ sṛjaty adaḥ
bhaktāvatāram īśaṁ tam
mama manda-mater gatī
preṣṭhālībhiḥ sevyamānau smarāmi
karṣan veṇu-svanair gopīr
gopī-nāthaḥ śriye ’stu naḥ
jayādvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vṛnda
e tinera caraṇa vandoṅ, tine mora nātha
The author of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta offers his respectful obeisances unto the three Deities of Vṛndāvana named Śrī Rādhā-Madana-mohana, Śrī Rādhā-Govindadeva and Śrī Rādhā-Gopīnāthajī. These three Deities are the life and soul of the Bengali Vaiṣṇavas, or Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, who have a natural aptitude for residing in Vṛndāvana. The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas who follow strictly in the line of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu worship the Divinity by chanting transcendental sounds meant to develop a sense of one’s transcendental relationship with the Supreme Lord, a reciprocation of mellows (rasas) of mutual affection, and, ultimately, the achievement of the desired success in loving service. These three Deities are worshiped in three different stages of one’s development. The followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu scrupulously follow these principles of approach.
Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas perceive the ultimate objective in Vedic hymns composed of eighteen transcendental letters that adore Kṛṣṇa as Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopījana-vallabha. Madana-mohana is He who charms Cupid, the god of love, Govinda is He who pleases the senses and the cows, and Gopījana-vallabha is the transcendental lover of the gopīs. Kṛṣṇa Himself is called Madana-mohana, Govinda, Gopījana-vallabha and countless other names as He plays in His different pastimes with His devotees.
The three Deities — Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopījana-vallabha — have very specific qualities. Worship of Madana-mohana is on the platform of reestablishing our forgotten relationship with the Personality of Godhead. In the material world we are presently in utter ignorance of our eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord. Paṅgoḥ refers to one who cannot move independently by his own strength, and manda-mateḥ is one who is less intelligent because he is too absorbed in materialistic activities. It is best for such persons not to aspire for success in fruitive activities or mental speculation but instead simply to surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The perfection of life is simply to surrender to the Supreme. In the beginning of our spiritual life we must therefore worship Madana-mohana so that He may attract us and nullify our attachment for material sense gratification. This relationship with Madana-mohana is necessary for neophyte devotees. When one wishes to render service to the Lord with strong attachment, one worships Govinda on the platform of transcendental service. Govinda is the reservoir of all pleasures. When by the grace of Kṛṣṇa and the devotees one reaches perfection in devotional service, he can appreciate Kṛṣṇa as Gopījana-vallabha, the pleasure Deity of the damsels of Vraja.
Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu explained this mode of devotional service in three stages, and therefore these worshipable Deities were installed in Vṛndāvana by different Gosvāmīs. They are very dear to the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas there, who visit the temples at least once a day. Besides the temples of these three Deities, many other temples have been established in Vṛndāvana, such as the temple of Rādhā-Dāmodara of Jīva Gosvāmī, the temple of Śyāmasundara of Śyāmānanda Gosvāmī, the temple of Gokulānanda of Lokanātha Gosvāmī, and the temple of Rādhā-ramaṇa of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī. There are seven principal temples over four hundred years old that are the most important of the five thousand temples now existing in Vṛndāvana.
Gauḍīya indicates the part of India between the southern side of the Himalayan Mountains and the northern part of the Vindhyā Hills, which is called Āryāvarta, or the Land of the Āryans. This portion of India is divided into five parts or provinces (Pañca-gauḍadeśa): Sārasvata (Kashmir and Punjab), Kānyakubja (Uttar Pradesh, including the modern city of Lucknow), Madhya-gauḍa (Madhya Pradesh), Maithila (Bihar and part of Bengal) and Utkala (part of Bengal and the whole of Orissa). Bengal is sometimes called Gauḍadeśa, partly because it forms a portion of Maithila and partly because the capital of the Hindu king Rāja Lakṣmaṇa Sena was known as Gauḍa. This old capital later came to be known as Gauḍapura and gradually Māyāpur.
The devotees of Orissa are called Uḍiyās, the devotees of Bengal are called Gauḍīyas, and the devotees of southern India are known as Drāviḍa devotees. As there are five provinces in Āryāvarta, so Dākṣiṇātya, southern India, is also divided into five provinces, which are called Pañca-draviḍa. The four Vaiṣṇava ācāryas who are the great authorities of the four Vaiṣṇava disciplic successions, as well as Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya of the Māyāvāda school, appeared in the Pañca-draviḍa provinces. Among the four Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, who are all accepted by the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, Śrī Rāmānuja Ācārya appeared in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh at Mahābhūtapurī, Śrī Madhva Ācārya appeared at Pājakam (near Vimānagiri) in the district of Mangalore, Śrī Viṣṇu Svāmī appeared at Pāṇḍya, and Śrī Nimbārka appeared at Muṅgera-patana, in the extreme south.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted the chain of disciplic succession from Madhva Ācārya, but the Vaiṣṇavas in His line do not accept the Tattva-vādīs, who also claim to belong to the Madhva-sampradāya. To distinguish themselves clearly from the Tattva-vādī branch of Madhva’s descendants, the Vaiṣṇavas of Bengal prefer to call themselves Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. Śrī Madhva Ācārya is also known as Śrī Gauḍa-pūrṇānanda, and therefore the name Madhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya is quite suitable for the disciplic succession of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. Our spiritual master, Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, accepted initiation in the Madhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya.
guru, vaiṣṇava, bhagavān, — tinera smaraṇa
anāyāse haya nija vāñchita-pūraṇa
vastu-nirdeśa, āśīrvāda, namaskāra
sāmānya-viśeṣa-rūpe dui ta’ prakāra
yāhā ha-ite jāni para-tattvera uddeśa
sarvatra māgiye kṛṣṇa-caitanya-prasāda
pañca ṣaṣṭha śloke kahi mūla-prayojana
āra pañca śloke nityānandera mahattva
āra eka śloke pañca-tattvera vyākhyāna
taṅhi madhye kahi saba vastu-nirūpaṇa
ei saba ślokera kari artha-vicāra
Lord Caitanya is the Absolute Truth, Kṛṣṇa Himself. This is substantiated by evidence from the authentic spiritual scriptures. Sometimes people accept a man as God on the basis of their whimsical sentiments and without reference to the revealed scriptures, but the author of Caitanya-caritāmṛta proves all his statements by citing the śāstras. Thus he establishes that Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
kṛṣṇa ei chaya-rūpe karena vilāsa
prathame sāmānye kari maṅgalācaraṇa
tat-prakāśāṁś ca tac-chaktīḥ
Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has composed this Sanskrit verse for the beginning of his book, and now he will explain it in detail. He offers his respectful obeisances to the six principles of the Absolute Truth. Gurūn is plural in number because anyone who gives spiritual instructions based on the revealed scriptures is accepted as a spiritual master. Although others give help in showing the way to beginners, the guru who first initiates one with the mahā-mantra is to be known as the initiator, and the saints who give instructions for progressive advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness are called instructing spiritual masters. The initiating and instructing spiritual masters are equal and identical manifestations of Kṛṣṇa, although they have different dealings. Their function is to guide the conditioned souls back home, back to Godhead. Therefore Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī accepted Nityānanda Prabhu and the six Gosvāmīs in the category of guru.
Īśa-bhaktān refers to the devotees of the Lord like Śrī Śrīvāsa and all other such followers, who are the energy of the Lord and are qualitatively nondifferent from Him. Īśāvatārakān refers to ācāryas like Advaita Prabhu, who is an avatāra of the Lord. Tat-prakāśān indicates the direct manifestation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nityānanda Prabhu, and the initiating spiritual master. Tac-chaktīḥ refers to the spiritual energies (śaktis) of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Gadādhara, Dāmodara and Jagadānanda belong to this category of internal energy.
The six principles are differently manifested but all equally worshipable. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja begins by offering his obeisances unto them to teach us the method of worshiping Lord Caitanya. The external potency of Godhead, called māyā, can never associate with the Lord, just as darkness cannot remain in the presence of light; yet darkness, being but an illusory and temporary covering of light, has no existence independent of light.
tāṅhāra caraṇa āge kariye vandana
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, in his thesis Bhakti-sandarbha (202), has stated that uncontaminated devotional service is the objective of pure Vaiṣṇavas and that one has to execute such service in the association of other devotees. By associating with devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa, one develops a sense of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and thus becomes inclined toward the loving service of the Lord. This is the process of approaching the Supreme Lord by gradual appreciation in devotional service. If one desires unalloyed devotional service, one must associate with devotees of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, for by such association only can a conditioned soul achieve a taste for transcendental love and thus revive his eternal relationship with Godhead in a specific manifestation and in terms of the specific transcendental mellow (rasa) that one has eternally inherent in him.
If one develops love for Kṛṣṇa by Kṛṣṇa conscious activities, one can know the Supreme Absolute Truth, but he who tries to understand God simply by logical arguments will not succeed, nor will he get a taste for unalloyed devotion. The secret is that one must submissively listen to those who know perfectly the science of God, and one must begin the mode of service regulated by the preceptor. A devotee already attracted by the name, form, qualities, etc., of the Supreme Lord may be directed to his specific manner of devotional service; he need not waste time in approaching the Lord through logic. The expert spiritual master knows well how to engage his disciple’s energy in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and thus he engages a devotee in a specific devotional service according to his special tendency. A devotee must have only one initiating spiritual master because in the scriptures acceptance of more than one is always forbidden. There is no limit, however, to the number of instructing spiritual masters one may accept. Generally a spiritual master who constantly instructs a disciple in spiritual science becomes his initiating spiritual master later on.
One should always remember that a person who is reluctant to accept a spiritual master and be initiated is sure to be baffled in his endeavor to go back to Godhead. One who is not properly initiated may present himself as a great devotee, but in fact he is sure to encounter many stumbling blocks on his path of progress toward spiritual realization, with the result that he must continue his term of material existence without relief. Such a helpless person is compared to a ship without a rudder, for such a ship can never reach its destination. It is imperative, therefore, that one accept a spiritual master if he at all desires to gain the favor of the Lord. The service of the spiritual master is essential. If there is no chance to serve the spiritual master directly, a devotee should serve him by remembering his instructions. There is no difference between the spiritual master’s instructions and the spiritual master himself. In his absence, therefore, his words of direction should be the pride of the disciple. If one thinks that he is above consulting anyone else, including a spiritual master, he is at once an offender at the lotus feet of the Lord. Such an offender can never go back to Godhead. It is imperative that a serious person accept a bona fide spiritual master in terms of the śāstric injunctions. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī advises that one not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions. One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.
śrī-jīva, gopāla-bhaṭṭa, dāsa-raghunātha
tāṅ’-sabāra pāda-padme koṭi namaskāra
By accepting the six Gosvāmīs as his instructing spiritual masters, the author specifically makes it clear that one should not be recognized as a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava if he is not obedient to them.
tāṅ’-sabhāra pāda-padme sahasra praṇāma
tāṅra pāda-padme koṭi praṇati āmāra
tāṅra pāda-padma vando yāṅra muñi dāsa
tāṅ’-sabāra caraṇe mora sahasra praṇati
tāṅhāra padāravinde ananta praṇāma
ei chaya teṅho yaiche — kariye vicāra
There are many unalloyed devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all of whom are considered associates surrounding the Lord. Kṛṣṇa should be worshiped with His devotees. The diverse principles are therefore the eternal paraphernalia through which the Absolute Truth can be approached.
tathāpi jāniye āmi tāṅhāra prakāśa
Every living entity is essentially a servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the spiritual master is also His servant. Still, the spiritual master is a direct manifestation of the Lord. With this conviction, a disciple can advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The spiritual master is nondifferent from Kṛṣṇa because he is a manifestation of Kṛṣṇa.
Lord Nityānanda, who is Balarāma Himself, the first direct manifestation or expansion of Kṛṣṇa, is the original spiritual master. He helps Lord Kṛṣṇa in His pastimes, and He is a servant of the Lord.
Every living entity is eternally a servant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya; therefore the spiritual master cannot be other than a servant of Lord Caitanya. The spiritual master’s eternal occupation is to expand the service of the Lord by training disciples in a service attitude. A spiritual master never poses as the Supreme Lord Himself; he is considered a representative of the Lord. The revealed scriptures prohibit one’s pretending to be God, but a bona fide spiritual master is a most faithful and confidential servant of the Lord and therefore deserves as much respect as Kṛṣṇa.
guru-rūpe kṛṣṇa kṛpā karena bhakta-gaṇe
The relationship of a disciple with his spiritual master is as good as his relationship with the Supreme Lord. A spiritual master always represents himself as the humblest servitor of the Personality of Godhead, but the disciple must look upon him as the manifested representation of Godhead.
This is a verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.17.27) spoken by Lord Kṛṣṇa when He was questioned by Uddhava regarding the four social and spiritual orders of society. The Lord was specifically instructing how a brahmacārī should behave under the care of a spiritual master. A spiritual master is not an enjoyer of facilities offered by his disciples. He is like a parent. Without the attentive service of his parents, a child cannot grow to manhood; similarly, without the care of the spiritual master one cannot rise to the plane of transcendental service.
The spiritual master is also called ācārya, or a transcendental professor of spiritual science. The Manu-saṁhitā (2.140) explains the duties of an ācārya, describing that a bona fide spiritual master accepts charge of disciples, teaches them the Vedic knowledge with all its intricacies, and gives them their second birth. The ceremony performed to initiate a disciple into the study of spiritual science is called upanīti, or the function that brings one nearer to the spiritual master. One who cannot be brought nearer to a spiritual master cannot have a sacred thread, and thus he is indicated to be a śūdra. The sacred thread on the body of a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya or vaiśya is a symbol of initiation by the spiritual master; it is worth nothing if worn merely to boast of high parentage. The duty of the spiritual master is to initiate a disciple with the sacred thread ceremony, and after this saṁskāra, or purificatory process, the spiritual master actually begins to teach the disciple about the Vedas. A person born a śūdra is not barred from such spiritual initiation, provided he is approved by the spiritual master, who is duly authorized to award a disciple the right to be a brāhmaṇa if he finds him perfectly qualified. In the Vāyu Purāṇa an ācārya is defined as one who knows the import of all the Vedic literatures, abides by their rules and regulations, and teaches his disciples to act in the same way.
Only out of His immense compassion does the Personality of Godhead reveal Himself as the spiritual master. Therefore in the dealings of an ācārya there are no activities but those of transcendental loving service to the Lord. He is the Supreme Personality of Servitor Godhead. It is worthwhile to take shelter of such a steady devotee, who is called āśraya-vigraha, or the manifestation or form of the Lord of whom one must take shelter.
If one poses himself as an ācārya but does not have an attitude of servitorship to the Lord, he must be considered an offender, and this offensive attitude disqualifies him from being an ācārya. The bona fide spiritual master always engages in unalloyed devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By this test he is known to be a direct manifestation of the Lord and a genuine representative of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu. Such a spiritual master is known as ācāryadeva. Influenced by an envious temperament and dissatisfied because of an attitude of sense gratification, mundaners criticize a real ācārya. In fact, however, a bona fide ācārya is nondifferent from the Personality of Godhead, and therefore to envy such an ācārya is to envy the Personality of Godhead Himself. This will produce an effect subversive of transcendental realization.
As mentioned previously, a disciple should always respect the spiritual master as a manifestation of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but at the same time one should always remember that a spiritual master is never authorized to imitate the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. False spiritual masters pose themselves as identical with Śrī Kṛṣṇa in every respect to exploit the sentiments of their disciples, but such impersonalists can only mislead their disciples, for their ultimate aim is to become one with the Lord. This is against the principles of the devotional cult.
The real Vedic philosophy is acintya-bhedābheda-tattva, which establishes everything to be simultaneously one with and different from the Personality of Godhead. Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī confirms that this is the real position of a bona fide spiritual master and says that one should always think of the spiritual master in terms of his intimate relationship with Mukunda (Śrī Kṛṣṇa). Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, in his Bhakti-sandarbha (213), has clearly explained that a pure devotee’s observation of the spiritual master and Lord Śiva as being one with the Personality of Godhead exists in terms of their being very dear to the Lord, not identical with Him in all respects. Following in the footsteps of Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, later ācāryas like Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura have confirmed the same truths. In his prayers to the spiritual master, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura confirms that all the revealed scriptures accept the spiritual master to be identical with the Personality of Godhead because he is a very dear and confidential servant of the Lord. Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas therefore worship Śrīla Gurudeva (the spiritual master) in the light of his being the servitor of the Personality of Godhead. In all the ancient literatures of devotional service and in the more recent songs of Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and other unalloyed Vaiṣṇavas, the spiritual master is always considered either one of the confidential associates of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī or a manifested representation of Śrīla Nityānanda Prabhu.
antaryāmī, bhakta-śreṣṭha, — ei dui rūpa
Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī states that the instructing spiritual master is a bona fide representative of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself teaches us as the instructing spiritual master from within and without. From within He teaches as Paramātmā, our constant companion, and from without He teaches from the Bhagavad-gītā as the instructing spiritual master. There are two kinds of instructing spiritual masters. One is the liberated person fully absorbed in meditation in devotional service, and the other is he who invokes the disciple’s spiritual consciousness by means of relevant instructions. Thus the instructions in the science of devotion are differentiated in terms of the objective and subjective ways of understanding. The ācārya in the true sense of the term, who is authorized to deliver Kṛṣṇa, enriches the disciple with full spiritual knowledge and thus awakens him to the activities of devotional service.
When by learning from the self-realized spiritual master one actually engages himself in the service of Lord Viṣṇu, functional devotional service begins. The procedures of this devotional service are known as abhidheya, or actions one is dutybound to perform. Our only shelter is the Supreme Lord, and one who teaches how to approach Kṛṣṇa is the functioning form of the Personality of Godhead. There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating and instructing spiritual masters. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service.
Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī is the ideal spiritual master, for he delivers one the shelter of the lotus feet of Madana-mohana. Even though one may be unable to travel on the field of Vṛndāvana due to forgetfulness of his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he can get an adequate opportunity to stay in Vṛndāvana and derive all spiritual benefits by the mercy of Sanātana Gosvāmī. Śrī Govindajī acts exactly like the śikṣā-guru (instructing spiritual master) by teaching Arjuna the Bhagavad-gītā. He is the original preceptor, for He gives us instructions and an opportunity to serve Him. The initiating spiritual master is a personal manifestation of Śrīla Madana-mohana vigraha, whereas the instructing spiritual master is a personal representative of Śrīla Govindadeva vigraha. Both of these Deities are worshiped at Vṛndāvana. Śrīla Gopīnātha is the ultimate attraction in spiritual realization.
brahmāyuṣāpi kṛtam ṛddha-mudaḥ smarantaḥ
yo ’ntar bahis tanu-bhṛtām aśubhaṁ vidhunvann
ācārya-caittya-vapuṣā sva-gatiṁ vyanakti
This verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.29.6) was spoken by Śrī Uddhava after he heard from Śrī Kṛṣṇa all necessary instructions about yoga.
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
yena mām upayānti te
This verse of the Bhagavad-gītā (10.10) clearly states how Govindadeva instructs His bona fide devotee. The Lord declares that by enlightenment in theistic knowledge He awards attachment for Him to those who constantly engage in His transcendental loving service. This awakening of divine consciousness enthralls a devotee, who thus relishes his eternal transcendental mellow. Such an awakening is awarded only to those convinced by devotional service about the transcendental nature of the Personality of Godhead. They know that the Supreme Truth, the all-spiritual and all-powerful person, is one without a second and has fully transcendental senses. He is the fountainhead of all emanations. Such pure devotees, always merged in knowledge of Kṛṣṇa and absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, exchange thoughts and realizations as great scientists exchange their views and discuss the results of their research in scientific academies. Such exchanges of thoughts in regard to Kṛṣṇa give pleasure to the Lord, who therefore favors such devotees with all enlightenment.
The English maxim that God helps those who help themselves is also applicable in the transcendental realm. There are many instances in the revealed scriptures of the Personality of Godhead’s acting as the spiritual master from within. The Personality of Godhead was the spiritual master who instructed Brahmā, the original living being in the cosmic creation. When Brahmā was first created, he could not apply his creative energy to arrange the cosmic situation. At first there was only sound, vibrating the word tapa, which indicates the acceptance of hardships for spiritual realization. Refraining from sensual enjoyment, one should voluntarily accept all sorts of difficulties for spiritual realization. This is called tapasya. An enjoyer of the senses can never realize God, godliness or the science of theistic knowledge. Thus when Brahmā, initiated by Śrī Kṛṣṇa by the sound vibration tapa, engaged himself in acts of austerity, by the pleasure of Viṣṇu he was able to visualize the transcendental world, Śrī Vaikuṇṭha, through transcendental realization. Modern science can communicate using material discoveries such as radio, television and computers, but the science invoked by the austerities of Śrī Brahmā, the original father of mankind, was still more subtle. In time, material scientists may also know how we can communicate with the Vaikuṇṭha world. Lord Brahmā inquired about the potency of the Supreme Lord, and the Personality of Godhead answered his inquiry in the following six consecutive statements. These instructions, which are reproduced from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.9.31-36), were imparted by the Personality of Godhead, acting as the supreme spiritual master.
sa-rahasyaṁ tad-aṅgaṁ ca
gṛhāṇa gaditaṁ mayā
Transcendental knowledge of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is deeper than the impersonal knowledge of Brahman, for it includes knowledge of not only His form and personality but also everything else related to Him. There is nothing in existence not related to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In a sense, there is nothing but Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and yet nothing is Śrī Kṛṣṇa save and except His primeval personality. This knowledge constitutes a complete transcendental science, and Viṣṇu wanted to give Brahmājī full knowledge about that science. The mystery of this knowledge culminates in personal attachment to the Lord, with a resulting effect of detachment from anything “non-Kṛṣṇa.” There are nine alternative transcendental means of attaining this stage: hearing, chanting, remembering, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, worshiping, praying, assisting, fraternizing with the Lord, and sacrificing everything for Him. These are different parts of the same devotional service, which is full of transcendental mystery. The Lord said to Brahmā that since He was pleased with him, by His grace the mystery was being revealed.
astu te mad-anugrahāt
The transcendental personal forms of the Lord are a mystery, and the symptoms of these forms, which are absolutely different from anything made of mundane elements, are also mysterious. The innumerable forms of the Lord, such as Śyāmasundara, Nārāyaṇa, Rāma and Gaurasundara; the colors of these forms (white, red, yellow, cloudlike śyāma and others); His qualities, as the responsive Personality of Godhead to pure devotees and as impersonal Brahman to dry speculators; His uncommon activities like lifting Govardhana Hill, marrying more than sixteen thousand queens at Dvārakā, and entering the rāsa dance with the damsels of Vraja, expanding Himself in as many forms as there were damsels in the dance — these and innumerable other uncommon acts and attributes are all mysteries, one aspect of which is presented in the scientific knowledge of the Bhagavad-gītā, which is read and adored all over the world by all classes of scholars, with as many interpretations as there are empiric philosophers. The truth of these mysteries was revealed to Brahmā by the descending process, without the help of the ascending one. The Lord’s mercy descends to a devotee like Brahmā and, through Brahmā, to Nārada, from Nārada to Vyāsa, from Vyāsadeva to Śukadeva and so on in the bona fide chain of disciplic succession. We cannot discover the mysteries of the Lord by our mundane endeavors; they are only revealed, by His grace, to the proper devotees. These mysteries are gradually disclosed to the various grades of devotees in proportion to the gradual development of their service attitude. In other words, impersonalists who depend upon the strength of their poor fund of knowledge and morbid speculative habits, without submission and service in the forms of hearing, chanting and the others mentioned above, cannot penetrate to the mysterious region of transcendence where the Supreme Truth is a transcendental person, free from all tinges of the material elements. Discovering the mystery of the Lord eliminates the impersonal feature realized by common spiritualists who are merely trying to enter the spiritual region from the mundane platform.
nānyad yat sad-asat param
paścād ahaṁ yad etac ca
yo ’vaśiṣyeta so ’smy aham
Aham means “I”; therefore the speaker who is saying aham, “I,” must have His own personality. The Māyāvādī philosophers interpret this word aham as referring to the impersonal Brahman. The Māyāvādīs are very proud of their grammatical knowledge, but any person who has actual knowledge of grammar can understand that aham means “I” and that “I” refers to a personality. Therefore the Personality of Godhead, speaking to Brahmā, uses aham while describing His own transcendental form. Aham has a specific meaning; it is not a vague term that can be whimsically interpreted. Aham, when spoken by Kṛṣṇa, refers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and nothing else.
Before the creation and after its dissolution, only the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His associates exist; there is no existence of the material elements. This is confirmed in the Vedic literature. Vāsudevo vā idam agra āsīn na brahmā na ca śaṅkaraḥ. The meaning of this mantra is that before creation there was no existence of Brahmā or Śiva, for only Viṣṇu existed. Viṣṇu exists in His abode, the Vaikuṇṭhas. There are innumerable Vaikuṇṭha planets in the spiritual sky, and on each of them Viṣṇu resides with His associates and His paraphernalia. It is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā that although the creation is periodically dissolved, there is another abode, which is never dissolved. The word “creation” refers to the material creation because in the spiritual world everything exists eternally and there is no creation or dissolution.
The Lord indicates herein that before the material creation He existed in fullness with all transcendental opulences, including all strength, all wealth, all beauty, all knowledge, all fame and all renunciation. If one thinks of a king, he automatically thinks of his secretaries, ministers, military commanders, palaces and so on. Since a king has such opulences, one can simply try to imagine the opulences of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When the Lord says aham, therefore, it is to be understood that He exists with full potency, including all opulences.
The word yat refers to Brahman, the impersonal effulgence of the Lord. In the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.40) it is said, tad brahma niṣkalam anantam aśeṣa-bhūtam: the Brahman effulgence expands unlimitedly. Just as the sun is a localized planet with the sunshine expanding unlimitedly from that source, so the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead with His effulgence of energy, Brahman, expanding unlimitedly. From that Brahman energy the creation appears, just as a cloud appears in sunshine. From the cloud comes rain, from the rain comes vegetation, and from the vegetation come fruits and flowers, which are the basis of subsistence for many other forms of life. Similarly, the effulgent bodily luster of the Supreme Lord is the cause of the creation of infinite universes. The Brahman effulgence is impersonal, but the cause of that energy is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. From Him, in His abode, the Vaikuṇṭhas, this brahmajyoti emanates. He is never impersonal. Since impersonalists cannot understand the source of the Brahman energy, they mistakenly choose to think this impersonal Brahman the ultimate or absolute goal. But as stated in the Upaniṣads, one has to penetrate the impersonal effulgence to see the face of the Supreme Lord. If one desires to reach the source of the sunshine, he has to travel through the sunshine to reach the sun and then meet the predominating deity there. The Absolute Truth is the Supreme Person, Bhagavān, as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam explains.
Sat means “effect,” asat means “cause,” and param refers to the ultimate truth, which is transcendental to cause and effect. The cause of the creation is called the mahat-tattva, or total material energy, and its effect is the creation itself. But neither cause nor effect existed in the beginning; they emanated from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as did the energy of time. This is stated in the Vedānta-sūtra (janmādy asya yataḥ). The source of birth of the cosmic manifestation, or mahat-tattva, is the Personality of Godhead. This is confirmed throughout Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and the Bhagavad-gītā. In the Bhagavad-gītā (10.8) the Lord says, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ: “I am the fountainhead of all emanations.” The material cosmos, being temporary, is sometimes manifest and sometimes unmanifest, but its energy emanates from the Supreme Absolute Lord. Before the creation there was neither cause nor effect, but the Supreme Personality of Godhead existed with His full opulence and energy.
The words paścād aham indicate that the Lord exists after the dissolution of the cosmic manifestation. When the material world is dissolved, the Lord still exists personally in the Vaikuṇṭhas. During the creation the Lord also exists as He is in the Vaikuṇṭhas, and He also exists as the Supersoul within the material universes. This is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.37). Goloka eva nivasati: although He is perfectly and eternally present in Goloka Vṛndāvana in Vaikuṇṭha, He is nevertheless all-pervading (akhilātma-bhūtaḥ). The all-pervading feature of the Lord is called the Supersoul. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, ahaṁ kṛtsnasya jagataḥ prabhavaḥ: the cosmic manifestation is a display of the energy of the Supreme Lord. The material elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego) display the inferior energy of the Lord, and the living entities are His superior energy. Since the energy of the Lord is not different from Him, in fact everything that exists is Kṛṣṇa in His impersonal feature. Sunshine, sunlight and heat are not different from the sun, and yet simultaneously they are distinct energies of the sun. Similarly, the cosmic manifestation and the living entities are energies of the Lord, and they are considered to be simultaneously one with and different from Him. The Lord therefore says, “I am everything,” because everything is His energy and is therefore nondifferent from Him.
Yo ’vaśiṣyeta so ’smy aham indicates that the Lord is the balance that exists after the dissolution of the creation. The spiritual manifestation never vanishes. It belongs to the internal energy of the Supreme Lord and exists eternally. When the external manifestation is withdrawn, the spiritual activities in Goloka and the rest of the Vaikuṇṭhas continue, unrestricted by material time, which has no existence in the spiritual world. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gītā (15.6) it is said, yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama: “The abode from which no one returns to this material world is the supreme abode of the Lord.”
na pratīyeta cātmani
tad vidyād ātmano māyāṁ
yathābhāso yathā tamaḥ
In the previous verse the Absolute Truth and its nature have been explained. One must also understand the relative truth to actually know the Absolute. The relative truth, which is called māyā, or material nature, is explained here. Māyā has no independent existence. One who is less intelligent is captivated by the wonderful activities of māyā, but he does not understand that behind these activities is the direction of the Supreme Lord. In the Bhagavad-gītā (9.10) it is said, mayādhyakṣeṇa prakrtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram: the material nature is working and producing moving and nonmoving beings only by the supervision of Kṛṣṇa.
The real nature of māyā, the illusory existence of the material manifestation, is clearly explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The Absolute Truth is substance, and the relative truth depends upon its relationship with the Absolute for its existence. Māyā means energy; therefore the relative truth is explained to be the energy of the Absolute Truth. Since it is difficult to understand the distinction between the absolute and relative truths, an analogy can be given for clarification. The Absolute Truth can be compared to the sun, which is appreciated in terms of two relative truths: reflection and darkness. Darkness is the absence of sunshine, and a reflection is a projection of sunlight into darkness. Neither darkness nor reflection has an independent existence. Darkness comes when the sunshine is blocked. For example, if one stands facing the sun, his back will be in darkness. Since darkness stands in the absence of the sun, it is therefore relative to the sun. The spiritual world is compared to the real sunshine, and the material world is compared to the dark regions where the sun is not visible.
When the material manifestation appears very wonderful, this is due to a perverted reflection of the supreme sunshine, the Absolute Truth, as confirmed in the Vedānta-sūtra. Whatever one can see here has its substance in the Absolute. As darkness is situated far away from the sun, so the material world is also far away from the spiritual world. The Vedic literature directs us not to be captivated by the dark regions (tamaḥ) but to try to reach the shining regions of the Absolute (yogi-dhāma).
The spiritual world is brightly illuminated, but the material world is wrapped in darkness. In the material world, sunshine, moonshine or different kinds of artificial light are required to dispel darkness, especially at night, for by nature the material world is dark. Therefore the Supreme Lord has arranged for sunshine and moonshine. But in His abode, as described in the Bhagavad-gītā (15.6), there is no necessity for lighting by sunshine, moonshine or electricity because everything is self-effulgent.
That which is relative, temporary and far away from the Absolute Truth is called māyā, or ignorance. This illusion is exhibited in two ways, as explained in the Bhagavad-gītā. The inferior illusion is inert matter, and the superior illusion is the living entity. The living entities are called illusory in this context only because they are implicated in the illusory structures and activities of the material world. Actually the living entities are not illusory, for they are parts of the superior energy of the Supreme Lord and do not have to be covered by māyā if they do not want to be so. The actions of the living entities in the spiritual kingdom are not illusory; they are the actual, eternal activities of liberated souls.
tathā teṣu na teṣv aham
The gross material elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether) combine with the subtle material elements (mind, intelligence and false ego) to construct the bodies of this material world, and yet they are beyond these bodies as well. Any material construction is nothing but an amalgamation or combination of material elements in varied proportions. These elements exist both within and beyond the body. For example, although the sky exists in space, it also enters within the body. Similarly, the Supreme Lord, who is the cause of the material energy, lives within the material world as well as beyond it. Without His presence within the material world, the cosmic body could not develop, just as without the presence of the spirit within the physical body, the body could not develop. The entire material manifestation develops and exists because the Supreme Personality of Godhead enters it as Paramātmā, or the Supersoul. The Personality of Godhead in His all-pervading feature of Paramātmā enters every entity, from the biggest to the most minute. His existence can be realized by one who has the single qualification of submissiveness and who thereby becomes a surrendered soul. The development of submissiveness is the cause of proportionate spiritual realization, by which one can ultimately meet the Supreme Lord in person, as a man meets another man face to face.
Because of his development of transcendental attachment for the Supreme Lord, a surrendered soul feels the presence of his beloved everywhere, and all his senses are engaged in the loving service of the Lord. His eyes are engaged in seeing the beautiful couple Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa sitting on a decorated throne beneath a desire tree in the transcendental land of Vṛndāvana. His nose is engaged in smelling the spiritual aroma of the lotus feet of the Lord. Similarly, his ears are engaged in hearing messages from Vaikuṇṭha, and his hands embrace the lotus feet of the Lord and His associates. Thus the Lord is manifested to a pure devotee from within and without. This is one of the mysteries of the devotional relationship in which a devotee and the Lord are bound by a tie of spontaneous love. To achieve this love should be the goal of life for every living being.
yat syāt sarvatra sarvadā
Those who are serious about the knowledge of the transcendental world, which is far beyond the material cosmic creation, must approach a bona fide spiritual master to learn the science both directly and indirectly. One must learn both the means to approach the desired destination and the hindrances to such progress. The spiritual master knows how to regulate the habits of a neophyte disciple, and therefore a serious student must learn the science in all its aspects from him.
There are different grades and standards of prosperity. The standard of comfort and happiness conceived by a common man engaged in material labor is the lowest grade of happiness, for it is in relationship with the body. The highest standard of such bodily comfort is achieved by a fruitive worker who by pious activities reaches the plane of heaven, or the kingdom of the creative gods with their delegated powers. But the conception of comfortable life in heaven is insignificant in comparison to the happiness enjoyed in the impersonal Brahman, and this brahmānanda, the spiritual bliss derived from impersonal Brahman, is like the water in the hoofprint of a calf compared to the ocean of love of Godhead. When one develops pure love for the Lord, he derives an ocean of transcendental happiness from the association of the Personality of Godhead. To qualify oneself to reach this stage of life is the highest perfection.
One should try to purchase a ticket to go back home, back to Godhead. The price of such a ticket is one’s intense desire for it, which is not easily awakened, even if one continuously performs pious activities for thousands of lives. All mundane relationships are sure to be broken in the course of time, but once one establishes a relationship with the Personality of Godhead in a particular rasa, it is never to be broken, even after the annihilation of the material world.
One should understand, through the transparent medium of the spiritual master, that the Supreme Lord exists everywhere in His transcendental spiritual nature and that the living entities’ relationships with the Lord are directly and indirectly existing everywhere, even in this material world. In the spiritual world there are five kinds of relationships with the Supreme Lord — śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya and mādhurya. The perverted reflections of these rasas are found in the material world. Land, home, furniture and other inert material objects are related in śānta, or the neutral and silent sense, whereas servants work in the dāsya relationship. The reciprocation between friends is called sakhya, the affection of a parent for a child is known as vātsalya, and the affairs of conjugal love constitute mādhurya. These five relationships in the material world are distorted reflections of the original, pure sentiments, which should be understood and perfected in relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master. In the material world the perverted rasas bring frustration. If these rasas are reestablished with Lord Kṛṣṇa, the result is eternal, blissful life.
From this and the preceding three verses of the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, which have been selected from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the missionary activities of Lord Caitanya can be understood. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has eighteen thousand verses, which are summarized in the four verses beginning with aham evāsam evāgre (53) and concluding with yat syāt sarvatra sarvadā (56). In the first of these verses (53) the transcendental nature of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is explained. The second verse (54) further explains that the Lord is detached from the workings of the material energy, māyā. The living entities, although parts and parcels of Lord Kṛṣṇa, are prone to be controlled by the external energy; therefore, although they are spiritual, in the material world they are encased in bodies of material energy. The eternal relationship of the living entities with the Supreme Lord is explained in that verse. The next verse (55) instructs that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by His inconceivable energies, is simultaneously one with and different from the living entities and the material energy. This knowledge is called acintya-bhedābheda-tattva. When an individual living entity surrenders to the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, he can then develop natural transcendental love for Him. This surrendering process should be the primary concern of a human being. In the next verse (56) it is said that a conditioned soul must ultimately approach a bona fide spiritual master and try to understand perfectly the material and spiritual worlds and his own existential position. Here the words anvaya-vyatirekābhyām, “directly and indirectly,” suggest that one must learn the process of devotional service in its two aspects: one must directly execute the process of devotional service and indirectly avoid the impediments to progress.
śikṣā-guruś ca bhagavān śikhi-piñcha-mauliḥ
līlā-svayaṁvara-rasaṁ labhate jayaśrīḥ
This verse is from the Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, which was written by a great Vaiṣṇava sannyāsī named Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, who is also known as Līlāśuka. He intensely desired to enter into the eternal pastimes of the Lord, and he lived at Vṛndāvana for seven hundred years in the vicinity of Brahma-kuṇḍa, a still-existing bathing tank in Vṛndāvana. The history of Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura is given in a book called Śrī-vallabha-digvijaya. He appeared in the eighth century of the Śaka Era in the province of Draviḍa and was the chief disciple of Viṣṇu Svāmī. In a list of temples and monasteries kept in Śaṅkarācārya’s monastery in Dvārakā, Bilvamaṅgala is mentioned as the founder of the Dvārakādhīśa temple there. He entrusted the service of his Deity to Hari Brahmacārī, a disciple of Vallabha Bhaṭṭa.
Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura actually entered into the transcendental pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa. He has recorded his transcendental experiences and appreciation in the book known as Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta. In the beginning of that book he has offered his obeisances to his different gurus, and it is to be noted that he has adored them all equally. The first spiritual master mentioned is Cintāmaṇi, who was one of his instructing spiritual masters because she first showed him the spiritual path. Cintāmaṇi was a prostitute with whom Bilvamaṅgala was intimate earlier in his life. She gave him the inspiration to begin on the path of devotional service, and because she convinced him to give up material existence to try for perfection by loving Kṛṣṇa, he has first offered his respects to her. Next he offers his respects to his initiating spiritual master, Somagiri, and then to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who was also his instructing spiritual master. He explicitly mentions Bhagavān, who has peacock feathers on His crown, because the Lord of Vṛndāvana, Kṛṣṇa the cowherd boy, used to come to Bilvamaṅgala to talk with him and supply him with milk. In his adoration of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, he states that Jayaśrī, the goddess of fortune, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, takes shelter in the shade of His lotus feet to enjoy the transcendental rasa of nuptial love. The complete treatise Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta is dedicated to the transcendental pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. It is a book to be read and understood by the most elevated devotees of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
śikṣā-guru haya kṛṣṇa-mahānta-svarūpe
It is not possible for a conditioned soul to directly meet Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but if one becomes a sincere devotee and seriously engages in devotional service, Lord Kṛṣṇa sends an instructing spiritual master to show him favor and invoke his dormant propensity for serving the Supreme. The preceptor appears before the external senses of the fortunate conditioned soul, and at the same time the devotee is guided from within by the caittya-guru, Kṛṣṇa, who is seated as the spiritual master within the heart of the living entity.
satsu sajjeta buddhi-mān
santa evāsya chindanti
This verse, which appears in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.26.26), was spoken by Lord Kṛṣṇa to Uddhava in the text known as the Uddhava-gīta. The discussion relates to the story of Purūravā and the heavenly courtesan Urvaśī. When Urvaśī left Purūravā, he was deeply affected by the separation and had to learn to overcome his grief.
It is indicated that to learn the transcendental science, it is imperative that one avoid the company of undesirable persons and always seek the company of saints and sages who are able to impart lessons of transcendental knowledge. The potent words of such realized souls penetrate the heart, thereby eradicating all misgivings accumulated through years of undesirable association. For a neophyte devotee there are two kinds of persons whose association is undesirable: (1) gross materialists who constantly engage in sense gratification and (2) unbelievers who do not serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead but serve their senses and their mental whims in terms of their speculative habits. Intelligent persons seeking transcendental realization should very scrupulously avoid their company.
bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ
taj-joṣaṇād āśv apavarga-vartmani
śraddhā ratir bhaktir anukramiṣyati
This verse appears in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.25.25), where Kapiladeva replies to the questions of His mother, Devahūti, about the process of devotional service. As one advances in devotional activities, the process becomes progressively clearer and more encouraging. Unless one gets this spiritual encouragement by following the instructions of the spiritual master, it is not possible to make advancement. Therefore, one’s development of a taste for executing these instructions is the test of one’s devotional service. Initially, one must develop confidence by hearing the science of devotion from a qualified spiritual master. Then, as he associates with devotees and tries to adopt the means instructed by the spiritual master in his own life, his misgivings and other obstacles are vanquished by his execution of devotional service. Strong attachment for the transcendental service of the Lord develops as he continues listening to the messages of Godhead, and if he steadfastly proceeds in this way, he is certainly elevated to spontaneous love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
bhaktera hṛdaye kṛṣṇera satata viśrāma
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is one without a second, and therefore He is all-powerful. He has inconceivable energies, of which three are principal. The devotee is considered to be one of these energies, never the energetic. The energetic is always the Supreme Lord. The energies are related to Him for the purpose of eternal service. A living entity in the conditioned stage can uncover his aptitude for serving the Absolute Truth by the grace of Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master. Then the Lord reveals Himself within his heart, and he can know that Kṛṣṇa is seated in the heart of every pure devotee. Kṛṣṇa is actually situated in the heart of every living entity, but only a devotee can realize this fact.
sādhūnāṁ hṛdayaṁ tv aham
mad-anyat te na jānanti
nāhaṁ tebhyo manāg api
This verse appears in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (9.4.68) in connection with a misunderstanding between Durvāsā Muni and Mahārāja Ambarīṣa. As a result of this misunderstanding, Durvāsā Muni tried to kill the king, when the Sudarśana cakra, the celebrated weapon of Godhead, appeared on the scene for the devoted king’s protection. When the Sudarśana cakra attacked Durvāsā Muni, he fled in fear of the weapon and sought shelter from all the great demigods in heaven. Not one of them was able to protect him, and therefore Durvāsā Muni prayed to Lord Viṣṇu for forgiveness. Lord Viṣṇu advised him, however, that if he wanted forgiveness he had to get it from Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, not from Him. In this context Lord Viṣṇu spoke this verse.
The Lord, being full and free from problems, can wholeheartedly care for His devotees. His concern is how to elevate and protect all those who have taken shelter at His feet. The same responsibility is also entrusted to the spiritual master. The bona fide spiritual master’s concern is how the devotees who have surrendered to him as a representative of the Lord may make progress in devotional service. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is always mindful of the devotees who fully engage in cultivating knowledge of Him, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.
tīrtha-bhūtāḥ svayaṁ vibho
This verse was spoken by Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira to Vidura in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.13.10). Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was receiving his saintly uncle Vidura, who had been visiting sacred places of pilgrimage. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira told Vidura that pure devotees like him are personified holy places because the Supreme Personality of Godhead is always with them in their hearts. By their association, sinful persons are freed from sinful reactions, and therefore wherever a pure devotee goes is a sacred place of pilgrimage. The importance of holy places is due to the presence there of such pure devotees.
pāriṣad-gaṇa eka, sādhaka-gaṇa āra
Perfect servitors of the Lord are considered His personal associates, whereas devotees endeavoring to attain perfection are called neophytes. Among the associates, some are attracted by the opulences of the Personality of Godhead, and others are attracted by nuptial love of Godhead. The former devotees are placed in the realm of Vaikuṇṭha to render reverential devotional service, whereas the latter devotees are placed in Vṛndāvana for the direct service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
aṁśa-avatāra, āra guṇa-avatāra
aṁśa-avatāra — puruṣa-matsyādika yata
śakty-āveśa — sanakādi, pṛthu, vyāsa-muni
eke ta’ prakāśa haya, āre ta’ vilāsa
The Supreme Lord expands His personal forms in two primary categories. The prakāśa forms are manifested by Lord Kṛṣṇa for His pastimes, and their features are exactly like His. When Lord Kṛṣṇa married sixteen thousand queens in Dvārakā, He did so in sixteen thousand prakāśa expansions. Similarly, during the rāsa dance He expanded Himself in identical prakāśa forms to dance beside each and every gopī simultaneously. When the Lord manifests His vilāsa expansions, however, they are all somewhat different in their bodily features. Lord Balarāma is the first vilāsa expansion of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and the four-handed Nārāyaṇa forms in Vaikuṇṭha expand from Balarāma. There is no difference between the bodily forms of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma except that Their bodily colors are different. Similarly, Śrī Nārāyaṇa in Vaikuṇṭha has four hands, whereas Kṛṣṇa has only two. The expansions of the Lord who manifest such bodily differences are known as vilāsa-vigrahas.
ākāre ta’ bheda nāhi, eka-i svarūpa
ihāke kahiye kṛṣṇera mukhya ‘prakāśa’
vapuṣā yugapat pṛthak
striya eka udāvahat
This verse is from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.69.2).
tāsāṁ madhye dvayor dvayoḥ
This verse is also quoted from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.33.3).
kaṇṭhe sva-nikaṭaṁ striyaḥ
yaṁ manyeran nabhas tāvad
tato dundubhayo nedur
This is another quotation from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.33.3-4).
sa prakāśa itīryate
This is a quotation from the Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta (1.21), compiled by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī.
aneka prakāśa haya, ‘vilāsa’ tāra nāma
tasya bhāti vilāsataḥ
sa vilāso nigadyate
This is another quotation from the Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta (1.15).
yaiche vāsudeva pradyumnādi saṅkarṣaṇa
eka lakṣmī-gaṇa, pure mahiṣī-gaṇa āra
vrajendra-nandana yā’te svayaṁ bhagavān
bhakta sahite haya tāṅhāra āvaraṇa
Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His various personal expansions are nondifferent in potential power. These expansions are associated with further, secondary expansions, or servitor expansions, who are called devotees.
e-sabhāra vandana sarva-śubhera kāraṇa
To offer prayers to the Lord, one should first offer prayers to His devotees and associates.
dvitīya ślokete kari viśeṣa vandana
citrau śan-dau tamo-nudau
koṭī-sūrya-candra jini doṅhāra nija-dhāma
gauḍadeśe pūrva-śaile karilā udaya
yāṅhāra prakāśe sarva jagat ānanda
vastu prakāśiyā kare dharmera pracāra
tamo-nāśa kari’ kaila tattva-vastu-dāna
dharma-artha-kāma-mokṣa-vāñchā ādi saba
vedyaṁ vāstavam atra vastu śiva-daṁ tāpa-trayonmūlanam
śrīmad-bhāgavate mahā-muni-kṛte kiṁ vā parair īśvaraḥ
sadyo hṛdy avarudhyate ’tra kṛtibhiḥ śuśrūṣubhis tat-kṣaṇāt
This verse appears in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.2). The words mahā-muni-kṛte indicate that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was compiled by the great sage Vyāsadeva, who is sometimes known as Nārāyaṇa Mahā-muni because he is an incarnation of Nārāyaṇa. Vyāsadeva, therefore, is not an ordinary man but is empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He compiled the beautiful Bhāgavatam to narrate some of the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotees.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, a distinction between real religion and pretentious religion has been clearly made. According to this original and genuine commentation on the Vedānta-sūtra, there are numerous pretentious faiths that pass as religion but neglect the real essence of religion. The real religion of a living being is his natural inborn quality, whereas pretentious religion is a form of nescience that artificially covers a living entity’s pure consciousness under certain unfavorable conditions. Real religion lies dormant when artificial religion dominates from the mental plane. A living being can awaken this dormant religion by hearing with a pure heart.
The path of religion prescribed by Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is different from all forms of imperfect religiosity. Religion can be considered in the following three divisions: (1) the path of fruitive work, (2) the path of knowledge and mystic powers, and (3) the path of worship and devotional service.
The path of fruitive work (karma-kāṇḍa), even when decorated by religious ceremonies meant to elevate one’s material condition, is a cheating process because it can never enable one to gain relief from material existence and achieve the highest goal. A living entity perpetually struggles hard to rid himself of the pangs of material existence, but the path of fruitive work leads him to either temporary happiness or temporary distress in material existence. By pious fruitive work one is placed in a position where he can temporarily feel material happiness, whereas vicious activities lead him to a distressful position of material want and scarcity. However, even if one is put into the most perfect situation of material happiness, he cannot in that way become free from the pangs of birth, death, old age and disease. A materially happy person is therefore in need of the eternal relief that mundane religiosity in terms of fruitive work can never award.
The paths of the culture of knowledge (jñāna-mārga) and of mystic powers (yoga-mārga) are equally hazardous, for one does not know where one will go by following these uncertain methods. An empiric philosopher in search of spiritual knowledge may endeavor most laboriously for many, many births in mental speculation, but unless and until he reaches the stage of the purest quality of goodness — in other words, until he transcends the plane of material speculation — it is not possible for him to know that everything emanates from the Personality of Godhead Vāsudeva. His attachment to the impersonal feature of the Supreme Lord makes him unfit to rise to that transcendental stage of vasudeva understanding, and therefore because of his unclean state of mind he glides down again into material existence, even after having ascended to the highest stage of liberation. This falldown takes place due to his want of a locus standi in the service of the Supreme Lord.
As far as the mystic powers of the yogīs are concerned, they are also material entanglements on the path of spiritual realization. One German scholar who became a devotee of Godhead in India said that material science had already made laudable progress in duplicating the mystic powers of the yogīs. He therefore came to India not to learn the methods of the yogīs’ mystic powers but to learn the path of transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord, as mentioned in the great scripture Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Mystic powers can make a yogī materially powerful and thus give temporary relief from the miseries of birth, death, old age and disease, as other material sciences can also do, but such mystic powers can never be a permanent source of relief from these miseries. Therefore, according to the Bhāgavata school, this path of religiosity is also a method of cheating its followers. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is clearly defined that the most elevated and powerful mystic yogī is one who can constantly think of the Supreme Lord within his heart and engage in the loving service of the Lord.
The path of worship of the innumerable devas, or administrative demigods, is still more hazardous and uncertain than the above-mentioned processes of karma-kāṇḍa and jñāna-kāṇḍa. This system of worshiping many gods, such as Durgā, Śiva, Gaṇeśa, Sūrya and the impersonal Viṣṇu form, is accepted by persons who have been blinded by an intense desire for sense gratification. When properly executed in terms of the rites mentioned in the śāstras, which are now very difficult to perform in this age of want and scarcity, such worship can certainly fulfill one’s desires for sense gratification, but the success obtained by such methods is certainly transient, and it is suitable only for a less intelligent person. That is the verdict of the Bhagavad-gītā. No sane man should be satisfied by such temporary benefits.
None of the above-mentioned three religious paths can deliver a person from the threefold miseries of material existence, namely, miseries caused by the body and mind, miseries caused by other living entities, and miseries caused by the demigods. The process of religion described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, however, is able to give its followers permanent relief from the threefold miseries. The Bhāgavatam describes the highest religious form — reinstatement of the living entity in his original position of transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord, which is free from the infections of desires for sense gratification, fruitive work, and the culture of knowledge with the aim of merging into the Absolute to become one with the Supreme Lord.
Any process of religiosity based on sense gratification, gross or subtle, must be considered a pretentious religion because it is unable to give perpetual protection to its followers. The word projjhita is significant. Pra- means “complete,” and ujjhita indicates rejection. Religiosity in the shape of fruitive work is directly a method of gross sense gratification, whereas the process of culturing spiritual knowledge with a view to becoming one with the Absolute is a method of subtle sense gratification. All such pretentious religiosity based on gross or subtle sense gratification is completely rejected in the process of bhāgavata-dharma, or the transcendental religion that is the eternal function of the living being.
Bhāgavata-dharma, or the religious principle described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, of which the Bhagavad-gītā is a preliminary study, is meant for liberated persons of the highest order, who attribute very little value to the sense gratification of pretentious religiosity. The first and foremost concern of fruitive workers, elevationists, empiric philosophers and salvationists is to raise their material position. But devotees of Godhead have no such selfish desires. They serve the Supreme Lord only for His satisfaction. Śrī Arjuna, wanting to satisfy his senses by becoming a so-called nonviolent and pious man, at first decided not to fight. But when he was fully situated in the principles of bhāgavata-dharma, culminating in complete surrender unto the will of the Supreme Lord, he changed his decision and agreed to fight for the satisfaction of the Lord. He then said:
naṣṭo mohaḥ smṛtir labdhā tvat-prasādān mayācyuta
sthito ’smi gata-sandehaḥ kariṣye vacanaṁ tava
“My dear Kṛṣṇa, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.” (Bg. 18.73) It is the constitutional position of the living entity to be situated in this pure consciousness. Any so-called religious process that interferes with this unadulterated spiritual position of the living being must therefore be considered a pretentious process of religiosity.
The real form of religion is spontaneous loving service to Godhead. This relationship of the living being with the Absolute Personality of Godhead in service is eternal. The Personality of Godhead is described as vastu, or the Substance, and the living entities are described as vāstavas, or the innumerable samples of the Substance in relative existence. The relationship of these substantive portions with the Supreme Substance can never be annihilated, for it is an eternal quality inherent in the living being.
By contact with material nature the living entities exhibit varied symptoms of the disease of material consciousness. To cure this material disease is the supreme object of human life. The process that treats this disease is called bhāgavata-dharma, or sanātana-dharma — real religion. This is described in the pages of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Therefore anyone who, because of his background of pious activities in previous lives, is anxious to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam immediately realizes the presence of the Supreme Lord within his heart and fulfills the mission of his life.
yāhā haite kṛṣṇa-bhakti haya antardhāna
The desire to merge into the impersonal Brahman is the subtlest type of atheism. As soon as such atheism, disguised in the dress of liberation, is encouraged, one becomes completely unable to traverse the path of devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
This is an annotation by Śrīdhara Svāmī, the great commentator on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
seha eka jīvera ajñāna-tamo-dharma
The poetical comparison of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityānanda to the sun and moon is very significant. The living entities are spiritual sparks, and their constitutional position is to render devotional service to the Supreme Lord in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So-called pious activities and other ritualistic performances, pious or impious, as well as the desire to escape from material existence, are all considered to be coverings of these spiritual sparks. The living entities must get free from these superfluous coverings and fully engage in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The purpose of the appearance of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityānanda is to dispel the darkness of the soul. Before Their appearance, all these superfluous activities of the living entities were covering Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but after the appearance of these two brothers, people’s hearts are becoming cleansed, and they are again becoming situated in the real position of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
tamo nāśa kari’ kare tattvera prakāśa
nāma-saṅkīrtana — saba ānanda-svarūpa
bahir-vastu ghaṭa-paṭa-ādi se prakāśe
dui bhāgavata-saṅge karāna sākṣātkāra
āra bhāgavata — bhakta bhakti-rasa-pātra
tāṅhāra hṛdaye tāṅra preme haya vaśa
āra adbhuta — citta-guhāra tamaḥ kare nāśa
jagatera bhāgye gauḍe karilā udaya
The celebrated ancient capital of the Sena dynasty, which was known as Gauḍadeśa or Gauḍa, was situated in what is now the modern district of Maldah. Later this capital was transferred to the ninth or central island on the western side of the Ganges at Navadvīpa, which is now known as Māyāpur and was then called Gauḍapura. Lord Caitanya appeared there, and Lord Nityānanda came there and joined Him from the district of Birbhum. They appeared on the horizon of Gauḍadeśa to spread the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and it is predicted that as the sun and moon gradually move west, the movement They began five hundred years ago will come to the Western civilizations by Their mercy.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Nityānanda Prabhu drive away the five kinds of ignorance of the conditioned souls. In the Mahābhārata, Udyoga-parva, forty-third chapter, these five kinds of ignorance are described. They are (1) accepting the body to be the self, (2) making material sense gratification one’s standard of enjoyment, (3) being anxious due to material identification, (4) lamenting and (5) thinking that there is anything beyond the Absolute Truth. The teachings of Lord Caitanya eradicate these five kinds of ignorance. Whatever one sees or otherwise experiences one should know to be simply an exhibition of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s energy. Everything is a manifestation of Kṛṣṇa.
yāṅhā ha-ite vighna-nāśa abhīṣṭa-pūraṇa
tṛtīya ślokera artha śuna sarva-jana
vistāre nā varṇi, sārārtha kahi alpākṣare
kṛṣṇe gāḍha prema habe, pāibe santoṣa
śunile jānibe saba vastu-tattva-sāra
caitanya-caritāmṛta kahe kṛṣṇadāsa
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports to Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, first chapter, describing the spiritual masters.