Reciprocation between Lord and His devotees
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna Chaitanya, reveals His most extraordinary and merciful lila to the extent He loves His devotees and of course there is no extent because the love between the Lord and His devotees is eternally and infinitely increasing. There is no cessation in the desires to serve one another and to offer pleasure to the beloved. Prahlad maharaj describes this world as a place for unfortunate people who are engaging in the process of punah punas carvita-carvananam, chewing that which is already been chewed. But the spiritual world is that place where pleasure of love in a mood of sweet service and surrender is ever increasing. Therefore the devotees, their burning ambition in whatever activities they do is to glorify Krishna. The motivation that sustains the heart of the devotee is that intense longing to bring Krishna to the hearts of all living beings because He is the greatest of the great and He is the most merciful of the merciful. Our ambition is to make His glory known throughout all the directions. In the same way Krishna who is swayam bhagwan, His desire is eternally to glorify His devotee. Therefore sometimes Sri Krishna puts His devotee in conditions that are so impossible, so difficult, that takes such an extent of surrender and faith, that in the end that devotee is glorified forever in the hearts of all sincere souls.
Lord teaches through examples
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught that there are four vital and essential qualities to be developed in the heart of an aspiring bhakta. One is humility, one is tolerance, one is continence or self control and the other is neutrality. Now Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu when He wants to show the world a lesson, He shows through His devotees, just as when the Lord wanted to show the world how a devotee could always remember Krishna in any circumstance of life, He demonstrated through Prahalad Maharaj. When He wanted to show the incredible determination required by a devotee, He demonstrated through Dhruva Maharaj. When He wanted to show how the simplicity of a devotee is the same under all circumstances, never desires anything, he demonstrated through Sundama vipra. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu demonstrated the four pillars of Vaisnava qualities through four of His intimate associates.
Sanatan Gosvami – Humility personified
Humility in its most unique and unparalleled extent was empowered into Sanatan Goswami. There are hundreds and hundreds of such examples of the humility of this great devotee. He was so wealthy, learned, skillful, and popular. In fact the king considered him the most important person in the whole world. The king could not survive without his guidance and leadership. Usually people become proud when they have such qualities. The king looked upon him as the greatest leader and most affluent, aristocratic man in the social scenario and also the most confident and the most dedicated. Many of the brahamanas considered Sanatan Gosvami a great saint. Brahmanas and sadhus and vaisnavas would come from all over India to the place of Sanatan Goswami to together hear and chant the glories of the Srimad Bhagwatam, and would take great pleasure. When Sanatan Goswami, who is always anxious to hear from them, when they would convince him to speak, because his explanations were so full of love, full of deep-deep realization and scholarship, they would be struck with wonder. Some poor people in the kingdom looked up to him as the most gentle, fatherly friend. Everybody respected him as topmost. If we do one little good thing and people recognize us, we become proud. Sanatan Goswami, when he approaches Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he considered himself lower than the straw in the street, more wretched and sinful than Jagai and Madhai. Although he had all the exalted qualities, he considered himself insignificant. He never accepted any credit for himself and anyone who did anything wrong, he would accept the blame. It is described that when he was living in Jaganath puri, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was at a garden called the Jagannath Vallabha garden and He invited Sri Sanatan Goswami to come to take prasad with Him at noon. It was summer time. There was a very nice cool path way from Sanatan’s kutir, but Sanatan Goswami would not take that route. Instead he took the route along the beach and the sand at midday would be hotter than fire, and as he was walking, his feet became more blistered and when he finally came to the place of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Lord’s remnants were waiting. Lord Chaitanya had completed His prasadam and was taking rest. Sanatan took His remnants, maha maha prasad and Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came out, saw Sanatan’s feet full of sores and blisters. He asked Sanatan, “Why is this, how did you come, did you not come by the way of the Simha dwara?” Sanatan said, “My dear Lord, I came by the way of ocean side.” Lord said, “The ocean side sand is hotter than the fire and as a sannyasi you are bare feet.” Sanatan Gosvami who was actually thinking from his heart said, “My Lord, if I would have gone by way of Simha dwara gate, but the pujaris who are always coming in and out in the service of Lord Jaganath would have accidently touched me and would get contaminated and commit great offense to Lord Jagannath.” This is what Sanatan Gosvami felt of himself, so contaminated, so dirty, and so low although he was the highest of the high. Now a materialistic person cannot understand this. This is completely against the brain of modern psychology, where everyone is teaching you to build up your confidence and have dignity and pride in who you are and what you do. But we see in Sanatan Goswami’s utter humility and only in such humility can we understand and be proud of the glory of God. If we want to be proud of ourselves, we should follow the guidelines of modern psychology. If we want to understand the glories of God, then we have to follow the guidelines of Santan Goswami and become most humble and feel ourselves insignificant. That is the question, whether we want to glorify ourselves or whether we want to glorify God; whether we want to see our own greatness flickering like a match stick which soon goes out or whether we want to see the greatness of God which is eternally effulgent and ever expanding. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to show these most incredible qualities through His devotees even more than He demonstrated in His own life. This is the love of Krishna for those who have given their lives to him.
Haridas Thakur – Tolerance personified
In regard to tolerance which is an essential virtue for spiritual development, Lord demonstrated supreme tolerance through Haridas Thakur. As we mentioned a few days back, he was beaten and whipped in 22 market places. Haridas Thakur had to cooperate with the demons and they would have just let him have a peaceful happy material life. But in order to show compassion to fallen souls and to perform the mission of the Lord on earth, he was willing to tolerate any extent of pain and suffering up to a torturous death. He was thanking Krishna, praying for the forgiveness of the prosecutors and blissfully chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare.
Ramanand Rai – Self Control Personified
Self control is an essential quality that must be developed amongst devotees. This quality was so nicely demonstrated through Ramanand Rai – one of the empowered representative of Lord Gauranga. Srila Ramanand Rai, in the service of Lord Jaganath, in the Jaganath Vallabah garden, Puri dham, would bring beautiful young girls and teach them how to dance and would decorate their bodies with his own hands, and would teach them all the gestures of the loving emotions of the Sakhis and Manjaris and the Gopis. It is explained by Lord Chaitanya himself that there is no other man in the entire universe that could be in such an environment and yet his mind and senses remains completely unchanged because he is so much immersed in pleasing Lord Jagannath through his service that he does not even remember that he has a body. In fact he is Visakha the gopi of vraj-dham and he is simply in that spirit, that mood. Such self-control cannot ever be imitated nor should anybody be such a rascal to dare to. But the extent of how one can be so self-controlled due to being immersed in a loving service of the Lord is revealed by Lord Chaitanya through Ramanand Rai.
Damodar Pandit – Neutrality personified
Neutrality means to be equal to all and to be straightforward in one’s dealings. Never try to imitate the great souls but follow in their footsteps. Srila Damodar Pandit was so neutral that he would criticize even Lord Chaitanya when he would see Lord doing something that will be criticized by others and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is described to be very much afraid of Damodar Pandit. Often times when devotees wanted Lord Chaitanya to do something that was not strictly according to the principles he was following as a sannyasi, He said first you have to get the permission of Damodar pandit.
Book Bhagavatam known only through person Bhagavatam
So you see by hearing the beautiful narrations of the stories of the devotees of the Lord we could learn practically everything about devotional service. The Bhagavad Gita teaches us philosophically the path to choose which is emanating from the lips of Lord Krishna himself. The Srimad Bhagwatam teaches us through the lives of devotees, how the path of truth is practically followed and the extent the devotees are willing to sacrifice everything for the pleasure of Krishna. But it is described that Chaitanya Charitramrita goes beyond even the Bhagwatam because it demonstrates how the Lord and His devotees are forever engaged in glorifying one another in pure love and devotion. The books show us the way but Guru parampara is very important to understand because it is said you cannot understand the book Bhagwatam except through the person Bhagwatam. Srila Prabhupad would often express his dissatisfaction with the way Christianity is being understood today that their guru lived 2000 years ago and most Christians as they do not accept the parampara they are always looking in the scriptures 2000 years back for that inspiration and it is very difficult for someone to find anyone following the footsteps. Therefore everything remains very theoretical. But Guru parampara means that they are the living embodiments of people who are adopting the same humble, tolerant, neutral and self control principles and when we see such people then we understand that these scriptures are real and they are alive. A devotee brings the scriptures into life that is the purpose of a sadhu not that the sadhu shows magic tricks. Nowhere is it said that a vaisnava is a vaisnava because he can perform mystic feats. Nowhere is it explained that a great mahatma is one who simply can speak in a very wonderful way. A real mahatma is one who is humble, tolerant, self-controlled and equal and a neutral friend to all living beings. He does not discriminate and the living examples are the testimony of the truths of the sastra. For our faith to develop they are essential and of course Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given the order jahar dekhe tahar kaha Krishna updesa…. He orders all his disciples to become guru. Becoming guru does not simply mean giving diksha. That is one type of guru. Becoming guru means becoming the humble servant of the servant and aspiring to demonstrate according to one’s capacity these qualities in God’s service. Whether one is a grihastha or a bramchari or a vanaprastha or a sanyasi, or a Brahmana, Vaisya, Ksatriya or a Sudra, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu saw no difference. He ordered everyone to become guru, hear the glories of these personalities, and aspire from them by following their footsteps, by humbly serving the great devotees of the Lord.
All should preach Krishna Consciousness
One time I remember someone approached Srila Prabhupad and said “Srila Prabhupad, in the temple I am living, nobody is inspiring me”. Srila Prabhupad said “Well you inspire them.” Our nature is we simply want to take-take-take, but we develop inKrishnaconsciousness more when we learn to give. When Sripla Prabhupad was about to leave this world he indicated the same thing, “Now the mission of my guru maharaj is in your hands.” He did not say it is in the hands of 1, 2 or 12 but he said it is in the hands of all of his disciples and all of his grand disciples and all of his great grand disciples. We are never leaders. Anyone who thinks he is a leader is nonsense. We are always the humble servants but in our humble service, we must take the responsibility on behalf of our guru maharaj to bring people closer and closer and closer to Krishna and if we can always unite on this principle then Krishna will forever bless us with his love and if we can simply make this the main desire of our life and put everything else aside, by using everything in pursuance of this purpose, then our lives are perfect by the grace of Krishna.