“That understanding which considers irreligion to be religion and religion to be irreligion, under the spell of illusion and darkness, and strives always in the wrong direction, O Partha, is in the mode of ignorance.” Srila Prabhupada – Bhagavad Gita Ch.18 – Text 32
Prayer ought to direct our intellect in the right direction and ought to reform the sullen heart so that no protest is met by the individual jiva when the Godhead asks the soul for more than a few moments of its life. The religiously minded, who strive to be good people, often are in danger of mistaking what is transcendental with what is corporeal, thereby confusing real religious principles that are equally applicable for all with the darkness of empty rituals and social conventions whereby ancestors, ghosts and demigods are petitioned instead of the Source of infinite universes all filled with the light of God. Artificially thanking God for whatever boon has come one’s way, real gratitude and prayer in the mode of goodness acknowledges that the individual jiva is poor even if rich and weak even if strong; thus throwing upon God the responsibility of listening attentively to the soul who is looking for real religion that is distinct from the many man made religions of gluttony and the like where man is glorified without any real mention of God’s grace upon everyone.
Material goods can be prayed for in order to relieve the mind from its initial turbulence upon recognizing a lack of envy in others, yet why pray for what makes us irreligious when we can pray for much better things such as God Himself? Seeking comfort in Him is the path of religion and seeking comfort in ourselves is the path of irreligion. Ignorant because of wanting others to be envious of you, switch this desire around and become envious of the pure devotees, but in a way that drives you to be more and more like the pure devotees in the manner of piously praying to God. The simplicity of prayer is that there is no one else to pray and talk to except for the Godhead. The grandness of prayer is that it enables you to commune with God in a way that cools down the burning heart which rarely experiences real peace of mind because of carrying so many fruitive desires here and there and everywhere it goes.
“And that determination by which one holds fast to fruitive result in religion, economic development and sense gratification is of the nature of passion, O Arjuna.” Srila Prabhupada – Bhagavad Gita Ch.18 – Text 34
Passionate for keeping company with those who are also run by passion, the pure devotee is our mediator since he is, like God, free from passion and envy, and thus can see clearly without the dense haze of competition and fear of not being number one in the race of mad men conducting themselves furiously in a mad fallen civilization where impiety is justified as piety so long as economic development thrives for a select few. The cheaters and the cheated equally treat religion, economic development and sense gratification on the same level of engagement, thus making use of religion and civilization to further such mundane plans which brings both facets of society closer to the obscurity offered by pointless and redundant sense gratification. Making no distinction between praying and working, the temple is used to collect funds instead of finding God and civilization is also used to collect funds under the banner of taxes and so called careers where everyone is fanatically attempting to chew that which is already chewed, unable to tell the difference between working for God and working for man.
Such a travesty is automatically diverted through becoming even minded. This evenness of mind enables the soul to properly discriminate between what is eternal religion and what is nothing more than fashion crazed duties. Once having sorted through this great mess created by a passion governed mind, meditating on Krishna in the heart becomes as natural as remembering to pray for what is always good and eternal. Goodness is distinguished from passion by seeing how goodness does not concern itself with the self and how passion is primarily all about the self. Krishna is neither concerned with goodness or passion, but is uniquely interested in transcendental loving affairs. Bringing the soul out of its secondary nature by removing its consciousness from the material covering, the three modes of nature do not belong to the soul, but are rather the governing principles of inert matter. With this understanding, take to prayer and its use in religion to petition God for its original nature above the modes to be revealed to that part of itself which knows no birth and no death. This is the beginning stage of self realization, and is the provider of peace for the living entity. With such an understanding, give thanks to the Lord and commune with Him from this day forward.
“A person may study and teach the Srimad Bhagavatam for the purpose of sense gratification. In this way, his intelligence is destroyed and becoming misguided, he commits offenses at the holy feet of Sri Nityananda. Thus, he brings about a great disaster for himself.” Sri Caitanya Bhagavata – Vrindavana Dasa Thakura – Madhya Khanda Ch. 20
Uncompromising for the search for eternal verities, nothing destroys the soul’s love for Godhead more than love for matter and all of its accompanying illusions which drives the mind and intelligence to study mundane phenomena more than divine being and existence beyond the material illusion. Purified senses leads a man to question why he is not more interested in the transcendence of the Bhagavatam than in theories of existence that bears no real spiritual fruit worthy of eternal contemplation. Capable of meditating on fallen souls for only a limited period of time, why not give full attention to the pastimes and activities of the Supreme God? Why waste so much precious time meditating on the sense gratification of the jivas who have not awakened to their transcendental relationship with the Godhead who steals the mind’s attention away from all of these inferior engagements which are shunned and avoided at all costs by the elevated and purified? Such a misguided intellect is totally incapable of giving proper purports to the verses championed by the immortal Bhagavatam, for what is transient is naturally distant from the full blown eternity of Krishna Consciousness. Positing that there is a dire need to speculate on world affairs instead of giving the mercy inherent in Krishna’s lilas, death is certain for the miserly who worry over material destiny and completely erase from their memory bank the spiritual wealth of remembering Godhead exclusively and eternally. Krishna is made dear to us by thinking about Him as one would think about one’s most beloved object of perception; that is, it is close to impossible for the mind to take itself away from the thought of reuniting with He who is always away yet near for those devotees who care for Him more than themselves.
“Whosoever makes any distinction between Me, My pure devotees, and the Srimad Bhagavatam is forever lost.” Sri Caitanya Bhagavata – Vrindavana Dasa Thakura – Madhya Khanda Ch. 21
There are two personified forms of the Bhagavatam. One is the literary incarnation of Godhead, where Krishna makes Himself available through the non duality of His words and advice to fallen mankind, and then there is the devotee incarnation who has personally realized through the free gift of grace the import of all Vedic knowledge; for He is most dear to the devotee incarnation as there is no trace of sinful activities in such a pure soul who has nothing besides Krishna to rely upon and render service to through the pure recitation of the narrative of Krishna’s pastimes as He slays the demons and gives protection to the community of devotees. What is said about Krishna is of the same potency as Krishna, being of the internal energy of Godhead, and coming from the devotee bhagavata who is the external manifestation of what is internal to Krishna’s being. This practically relates to the average faithful adherent of Vaishnava dharma by giving the realization of how the jiva can directly relate to the Godhead through the self realized commentaries offered by the partial incarnation of God for the deliverance of the mind from the nescience of kali yuga, which has inevitably produced many false teachers who claim to know what the Bhagavatam means without surrendering to the pure devotee and without perceiving the connection between relating to God and the simplicity of contemplating the truths of the scriptures because of a desire to cheat the jivas out of a personal relationship with both of the bhagavatas. O what a shame it is that the nectar of devotion does not inspire more souls to take to this direct and effective process of God realization which is free of all traces of karma and jnana, thus resulting in the reception from heart to heart of the unmixed and undiluted liquid mercy of Godhead.
“One who claims to ‘fully understand’ the Srimad Bhagavatam completely misses the truth expounded within this book. However, one who understands that the Srimad Bhagavatam speaks of the inconceivable Supreme Truth automatically perceives its essence, which is devotional service to the Supreme Lord.” Sri Caitanya Bhagavata – Vrindavana Dasa Thakura – Madhya Khanda Ch. 21
Never is there a time when Krishna forgets His devotees, and thus never is there a time when the constitutional position of the living entity changes, for what is sealed in the spiritual world as being real and eternal does not change with the futile endeavors exhibited by those who are chasing gusts of wind due to having speculative wind like minds. We must instead chase after the lotus feet of Bhagavan. Even after having read most of the scriptural conclusions about devotional service, there is still the tendency to fall down from the bliss of the spiritual sky because of not fully hanging onto the realization that Krishna is always inconceivable, and thus beyond the reach of our pathetic intellect that claims to know something about God when often only a tiny particle of His glories is dimly perceived on our part due to putting too much confidence in our own powers of perception as opposed to surrendering to the eternity of being a fool for Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu; the greatest scholar because of being God, yet at the same time the humblest of eternal souls. To this end, we should diligently pray to the disciplic succession for the continual protection of Krishna, for at any moment a fall down into maya is possible because of there being so many factors that are clearly out of our reach or ability to adequately control, being powerless and worthless with the grace of the Supreme Truth that is the indivisibility of pure service rendered to the Most Pure Godhead.
“Some scholars were lecturing on the Srimad Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita, but neither the lecturers nor the audience accepted nor even perceived the devotional essence of these texts.” Sri Caitanya Bhagavata – Vrindavana Dasa Thakura – Madhya Khanda Ch. 21
Even if belonging to the most intelligent class of men, that is not enough to enter into the mysteries of the love of Godhead, for what often seems simple to grasp at first sight is most unfathomable when keeping in mind that devotion is the essence and not necessarily knowledge and interpretations coming from a conditioned mind that fails to address the real issues at stake, namely, how to love God beyond mundane piety and a desire for some kind of fruitive reward. Reaching the summit of devotion, it is best to let the Bhagavatam speak for itself, for God knows best.
“All the syllables of the Bhagavatam are steeped in the nectar of love of Krsna. When they entered Srivasa Pandita’s ears, his heart melted in loving ecstasy and he began to cry, sighing deeply.” Sri Caitanya Bhagavata – Vrindavana Dasa Thakura – Madhya Khanda Ch. 21
Not wanting to imitate the offensive actions of Devananda Pandit, who threw out the pure devotee Srivasa Thakura because of factually exhibiting signs and symptoms of the love of God, we should instead embrace these exalted feelings of Srivasa Thakura, thus renouncing the artificial renunciation of persons like Devananda, and constantly pray for pure devotional service to enter our hearts. There being countless devotees who are fairly adept at performing austerities, what is the use of such intense labor if still unable to cry out for Krishna’s mercy in full humility, feeling totally rejected by the world and its standards of mundane perfection and achievement. This is the way of love presented by the bhakti yogis who seriously want to have Krishna in their heart and who despise out of compassion the association of those souls who simply like to read the Bhagavatam for selfish self glorification.
“You may be a teacher of the Bhagavatam, but you do not possess even an iota of the piety required to understand the real purport of the Srimad Bhagavatam. When a person has eaten to his full satisfaction only then does he feel amicably disposed to the world around him. As for you, although you teach others about the Bhagavatam you yourself cannot relish its divine nectar, which can give one unlimited pleasure.” Sri Caitanya Bhagavata – Vrindavana Dasa Thakura – Madhya Khanda Ch. 21
Uttered by Gauranga after severely chastising Devananda Pandit for rejecting His confidential associate, all such instructions given by the Lord are applicable for all devotees for all of eternity. To check the pride that results from knowledge, teaching the Bhagavatam is reserved for those jivas who can taste the nectar of such divine narrations. May we all thus pray for the mercy of ecstatic devotional readings of the Bhagavatam so that we are made a part of the Lord’s community of crying devotees. Reduced to nothing in body and spirit, we are then made ripe for the pure hearing of the transcendental message of Godhead.
Where man’s inability to be God fails him miserably and most assuredly because of eternally being a marginal energy of the Lord until re-absorbed into the internal magnificence of the Lord’s supernal energies, even when in a liberated position and meeting Krishna face to face, the soul is eternally a humble servitor of the Godhead; for man pursues devotional service in vain when wanting to surpass the order of the guru, which is the active principle of spiritual life.
Never fully God and never fully matter, being at the center of these two seemingly conflicting energies is at the heart of the desire to surrender to either or, being never fully independent, and thus having to serve the internal or external energies because of an original abuse of the partial independence given to the jiva at the point of eternal existence with the Supreme Personality who is at once ready to serve the devotee and ready to condemn the jiva to the material atmosphere due to the jiva overestimating his individual power to satisfy the demands of the Supreme and Sublime Lord of Goloka.
Always a servant of all, the jiva should not mistake its service to the living entities as being on an equal level with service to the Godhead, for a part cannot be loved as much as a whole can be loved. Those who advocate service to the jivas are in danger of confusing watering the branches of a tree with watering the root of all existence. What is good for God is good for all since the Supreme Person sets the standard concerning who is to be worshiped as a part of the internal energy, and for this reason Krishna has appointed His acharya as the focal point of such divine seva.
The acharya is as good as Krishna because he advocates for everyone to worship Krishna as opposed to the pseudo devotees addicted to karma kanda and thus to receiving that worship in the place of Godhead, which is a most serious offense to the dignity of the internal potencies praised by the pure devotee who is unafraid of the conflicts set up by those in the modes of nature.
To this I say, with pure faith comes pure understanding, and with pure understanding comes pure action, and thus pure service. Worship of the acharya’s instructions is the direct purport of following that activity done in full surrender that is directly connected to the active principle of spiritual life. Acting with pure consciousness is the only way to please the Godhead as He is unaffected by all actions performed by the gunas, but is directly controlled by the pure devotion offered by the pure devotee, who has nothing but his soul to offer to Krishna in confidence that Krishna will keep the acharya in His heart as He keeps so many universes as if mere pearls on a string of divine euphoric love of Godhead.