guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati
bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva
In this verse Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī explains how to perform devotional activities in the association of other devotees. There are six kinds of activities: (1) giving charity to the devotees, (2) accepting from the devotees whatever they may offer in return, (3) opening one’s mind to the devotees, (4) inquiring from them about the conﬁdential service of the Lord, (5) honoring prasāda, or spiritual food, given by the devotees, and (6) feeding the devotees with prasāda. An experienced devotee explains, and an inexperienced devotee learns from him. This is guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati. When a devotee distributes prasāda, remnants of food offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in order to maintain our spirit of devotional service we must accept this prasāda as the Lord’s grace received through the pure devotees. We should also invite pure devotees to our home, offer them prasāda and be prepared to please them in all respects. This is called bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva.
Even in ordinary social activities, these six types of dealings between two loving friends are absolutely necessary. For instance, when one businessman wishes to contact another businessman he arranges a feast in a hotel, and over the feast openly expresses what he wishes to do. He then inquires from his business friend how he should act, and sometimes presents are exchanged. Thus whenever there is a dealing of prīti, or love in intimate dealings, these six activities are executed. In the previous verse, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī advised that one should renounce worldly association and keep company with the devotees (saṅga-tyāgāt sato vṛtteḥ). The International Society for Krishna Consciousness has been established to facilitate these six kinds of loving exchanges between devotees. This Society was started single-handedly, but because people are coming forward and dealing with the give-and-take policy, the Society is now expanding all over the world. We are glad that people are donating very liberally to the development of the Society’s activities, and people are also eagerly accepting whatever humble contribution we are giving them in the shape of books and magazines dealing strictly with the subject matter of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We sometimes hold Hare Kṛṣṇa festivals and invite life members and friends to participate in the feasting by accepting prasāda. Although most of our members come from the higher rungs of society, they nonetheless come and take whatever little prasāda we are able to offer them. Sometimes the members and supporters inquire very conﬁdentially about the methods of performing devotional service, and we try to explain this. In this way our Society is successfully spreading all over the world, and the intelligentsia of all countries is gradually appreciating our Kṛṣṇa conscious activities. The life of the Kṛṣṇa conscious society is nourished by these six types of loving exchange among the members; therefore people must be given the chance to associate with the devotees of ISKCON, because simply by reciprocating in the six ways mentioned above an ordinary man can fully revive his dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In Bhagavad-gītā (2.62) it is stated, saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ: one’s desires and ambitions develop according to the company one keeps. It is often said that a man is known by his company, and if an ordinary man associates with devotees, he will certainly develop his dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The understanding of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is innate in every living entity, and it is already developed to some extent when the living entity takes a human body. It is said in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.107):
nitya-siddha kṛṣṇa-prema ‘sādhya’ kabhu naya
śravaṇādi-śuddha-citte karaye udaya
“Pure love for Kṛṣṇa is eternally established in the hearts of living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is puriﬁed by hearing and chanting, the living entity naturally awakens.” Since Kṛṣṇa consciousness is inherent in every living entity, everyone should be given a chance to hear about Kṛṣṇa. Simply by hearing and chanting – śravaṇaṁ kīrtanam – one’s heart is directly puriﬁed, and one’s original Kṛṣṇa consciousness is immediately awakened. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not artiﬁcially imposed upon the heart, it is already there. When one chants the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the heart is cleansed of all mundane contamination. In the ﬁrst stanza of His Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka, Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu says:
ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaṁ prati-padaṁ pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ
sarvātma-snapanaṁ paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam
“All glories to the Śrī Kṛṣṇa saṅkīrtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the ﬁre of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This saṅkīrtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.”
Not only is the chanter of the mahā-mantra puriﬁed, but the heart of anyone who happens to hear the transcendental vibration of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare is also cleansed. Even the souls embodied in lower animals, insects, trees and other species of life also become puriﬁed and prepared to become fully Kṛṣṇa conscious simply by hearing the transcendental vibration. This was explained by Ṭhākura Haridāsa when Caitanya Mahāprabhu inquired from him how living entities lower than human beings can be delivered from material bondage. Haridāsa Ṭhākura said that the chanting of the holy names is so powerful that even if one chants in the remotest parts of the jungle, the trees and animals will advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness simply by hearing the vibration. This was actually proved by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself when He passed through the forest of Jhārikhaṇḍa. At that time the tigers, snakes, deer and all other animals abandoned their natural animosity and began chanting and dancing in saṅkīrtana. Of course, we cannot imitate the activities of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, but we should follow in His footsteps. We are not powerful enough to enchant the lower animals such as tigers, snakes, cats and dogs or entice them to dance, but by chanting the holy names of the Lord we can actually convert many people throughout the world to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Contributing or distributing the holy name of the Lord is a sublime example of contributing or giving charity (the dadāti principle). By the same token, one must also follow the pratigṛhṇāti principle and be willing and ready to receive the transcendental gift. One should inquire about the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement and open his mind in order to understand the situation of this material world. Thus the guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati principles can be served.
The members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness invite the Society’s members and supporters to dine with them when they hold love feasts in all their branches every Sunday. Many interested people come to honor prasāda, and whenever possible they invite members of the Society to their homes and feed them sumptuously with prasāda. In this way both the members of the Society and the general public are beneﬁted. People should give up the company of so-called yogīs, jñānīs, karmīs and philanthropists because their association can beneﬁt no one. If one really wants to attain the goal of human life, he should associate with devotees of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement because it is the only movement that teaches one how to develop love of God. Religion is the special function of human society, and it constitutes the distinction between human society and animal society. Animal society has no church, mosque or religious system. In all parts of the world, however downtrodden human society may be, there is some system of religion. Even tribal aborigines in the jungles also have a system of religion. When a religious system develops and turns into love of God, it is successful. As stated in the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.6):
sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokṣaje
“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted in order to completely satisfy the self.”
If the members of human society actually want peace of mind, tranquility and friendly relations between men and nations, they must follow the Kṛṣṇa conscious system of religion, by which they can develop their dormant love for Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As soon as people do so, their minds will immediately be ﬁlled with peace and tranquility.
In this regard, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura warns all devotees engaged in broadcasting the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement not to speak to the impersonalist Māyāvādīs who are always determined to oppose such theistic movements. The world is full of Māyāvādīs and atheists, and the political parties of the world take advantage of Māyāvāda and other atheistic philosophies to promote materialism. Sometimes they even back a strong party to oppose the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. The Māyāvādīs and other atheists do not want the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement to develop because it educates people in God consciousness. Such is the policy of the atheists. There is no beneﬁt in feeding a snake milk and bananas because the snake will never be satisﬁed. On the contrary, by taking milk and bananas the snake simply becomes more poisonous (kevalaṁ viṣa-vardhanam). If a snake is given milk to drink, its poison simply increases. For a similar reason, we should not disclose our minds to the serpent Māyāvādīs and karmīs. Such disclosures will never help. It is best to avoid association with them completely and never ask them about anything conﬁdential because they cannot give good advice. Nor should we extend invitations to Māyāvādīs and atheists nor accept their invitations, for by such intimate intermingling we may become affected by their atheistic mentality (saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ). It is the negative injunction of this verse that we should refrain from giving anything to or accepting anything from the Māyāvādīs and atheists. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has also warned, viṣayīra anna khāile duṣṭa haya mana: “By eating food prepared by worldly people, one’s mind becomes wicked.” Unless one is very advanced, he is unable to utilize everyone’s contribution to further the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement; therefore on principle one should not accept charity from the Māyāvādīs or atheists. Indeed, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has forbidden devotees to associate even with ordinary men who are too addicted to material sense gratiﬁcation.
The conclusion is that we should always keep company with devotees, observe the regulative devotional principles, follow in the footsteps of the ācāryas and in full obedience carry out the orders of the spiritual master. In this way we shall be able to develop our devotional service and dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The devotee who is neither a neophyte nor a mahā-bhāgavata (a greatly advanced devotee) but is within the middle status of devotional service is expected to love the Supreme Personality of Godhead, make friends with the devotees, show favor to the ignorant and reject the jealous and demoniac. In this verse there is brief mention of the process of making loving transactions with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and making friends with the devotees. According to the dadāti principle, an advanced devotee is supposed to spend at least ﬁfty percent of his income on the service of the Lord and His devotees. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has set such an example in his life. When he decided to retire, he distributed ﬁfty percent of his life’s earnings to Kṛṣṇa’s service and twenty-ﬁve percent to his relatives and kept twenty-ﬁve percent for personal emergencies. This example should be followed by all devotees. Whatever one’s income, ﬁfty percent should be spent on behalf of Kṛṣṇa and His devotees, and this will fulﬁll the demands of dadāti.
In the next verse, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī informs us what kind of Vaiṣṇava should be selected as a friend and how Vaiṣṇavas should be served.