Radhanath Swami explain Kali-yuga: The age of quarrel
In the age of Kali, the slightest provocation, the slightest misunderstanding can create hatred violence and war, is the age of quarrel and hypocrisy and the sin gem of quarrel and hypocrisy is endlessly cycling and spiraling into deeper and deeper complexities, perplexities and bondage. In a state of mind that is ignorant of the truth, every time you try to solve the problem we make the problem worse. Today we have seen or heard of the baized, ridiculous illustration of this syndrome, trying to solve the problem we make it worse. Or as one great speaker once said, if you pass stool and urine in your own bed, you are the one that has to sleep in it and that’s what we are doing in the name of advancement of civilization, polluting the atmosphere, polluting the water, the air, the earth, the minds, engage in acts of destruction and ultimately we have to live with it. We have to live with the mess that we are making. This is Kali-yuga and it is explained that just like in the forest sometimes no one intentionally lights a fire but just by nature’s laws, the winds blow the bamboos and they rub together and sparks come and then the whole forest blazes in fire. In the same way even without intention, just by the nature of the world people do things and say things which they may or may not intend and it creates friction and that friction escalates into blazing fire and so much disturbance.
How finding faults is serving Kali by Radhanath Swami
So this is the world that we live in, world of quarrel and hypocrisy and we cannot change that. All we can do is protect ourselves and to try to create an atmosphere where others are protected from the onslaughts of kali-yuga and we should know that just as there is so much agitation and conflict on the railway platforms that same propensity is there to come between individuals even within the Vaishnava society. One person’s neophyte perception can influence others and create conflicts, distrust, break to pieces Vaishnava relationships. It’s actually the greatest danger because as an army of devotees, we have the power of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu behind us to attack and destroy victoriously over the influences of the age of Kali. But if those influences infiltrate, as long as they remain outside of ourselves, we will be victorious over them but if those influences infiltrate to create quarrel, hypocrisy, dissention amongst ourselves, then we will be defeated and our mission will be defeated. So what is the greatest enemy in all of the creation, our own nonsense tendency to find faults and misunderstand other devotees, that is the greatest enemy because that enemy can not only destroy ourselves but it could cause great harm and disturbance to the movement that has come to save the world and nothing else can disturb this movement. So anytime we have the tendency to find faults in other devotees, we should know that this tendency is the greatest demon that has come to destroy our own spiritual lives and attack and be the greatest enemy to the mission of the Lord. That is a fact. When we cannot see the good in other Vaishanvas and we see bad and we speak this way, we should know that we are nothing less that the servants of Kali. We are acting as soldiers of Kali to destroy Mahaprabhu’s movement. That is reality. We try to correct things by retaliating in this type of way and ultimately we just destroy it for ourselves for others. What is the difference? May be there was a mistake made in the train lines may be it was purposeful maybe it was not purposeful but when we react aggressively, we ruin it for them, for us, for everyone. So therefore, the Vaishnava consciousness is to serve, to see good and to forgive, that is a Vaishnava. Vaishnava doesn’t mean dhoti or sari, Vaishnava does not mean tilak or neck beads; that Vaishnava does not mean attending Mangala Aarti or chanting 16 rounds, Vaishnava means these qualities and all of these regulative principles are meant to help us to live by these qualities that is a Vaishnava.
Purpose of recognizing faults should be to correct them
Sometimes advanced and experienced devotees, they find faults in serious deviations from moral and philosophical principles but only for the purpose of protecting and enlivening and enthusing others to the right track, never simply for the sake of criticizing, never just to point out a fault, if we are not in the position of realization and authority to actually know what we are talking about, what we are seeing and what we are saying and if we do not have the power to enliven and enthuse and set things straight, then we have no right to speak anything against any other devotee.. If we do, we are servants and the soldiers of Kali then we become greatest enemies to Vaishnavas. If you want to be the Vaishnava, if the devotee is honestly and sincerely trying to serve Krishna despite so many defects, we will see the faults in ourselves and even if we see it in them, we will never speak it and even if we see it in them, we will be humble enough to know that the fault of me seeing this is billions and trillions of times worse than the fault that is being seen. That is Vaishnava; that is a devotee. For not willing to strive to live like this, we are not devotees, we are rascals.
Radhanath Swami on How offending devotees is like hurting Krishna directly
This is what all of the acharyas and this is all the scriptures are teaching because, as Srila Prabhupada said, this movement it survives on the basis of love and trust, it grows on the basis of love and trust and if we are not a part of stimulating love and trust, however difficult people may be, however many faults other devotees may have, if we are not trying to emulate love and trust then all of our endeavors are counterproductive. To try to deal with a little thing, we create a mass of problem that is the nature of kali-yuga and then we have to pay the consequences. So we should just strive for one thing only to be humble servants, always trying to respect and honor other Vaishnavas, if we can do that in our life, Krishna will provide us everything else to send us back home, back to Godhead because if we are not following that principle, even all of our sadhana is not pleasing to Krishna. If you are chanting the holy names strictly and you are offending devotees, it’s like touching Krishna on the feet and then hitting Him with the stick on the head. Do you think He will pleased with you devotion? If someone comes to you and touches you feet and says oh, I worship you, you are so nice and then he gets up smashes you on the face with the rock, would you take that devotion seriously? Yet when we do our sadhana but then we criticize devotees, who are more dear to Krishna then Krishna Himself, even if they may make mistakes, even if they may have some faults if they are sincerely trying, if we criticize them, then we are beating Krishna with a stick. Even worse, if I touch your feet and give you a gift, then I kick you are child, your son in the face, will you think oh! He loves me? You will reject me. So we must understand this, we have to take it seriously the influence of Kali is so strong, the tendency is so powerful from within and without cannot give into it.
Srimad Bhagvatam 2.3.12
jïänaà yad äpratinivåtta-guëormi-cakram
ätma-prasäda uta yatra guëeñv asaìgaù
kaivalya-sammata-pathas tv atha bhakti-yogaù
ko nirvåto hari-kathäsu ratià na kuryät
Transcendental knowledge in relation with the Supreme Lord Hari is knowledge resulting in the complete suspension of the waves and whirlpools of the material modes. Such knowledge is self-satisfying due to its being free from material attachment, and being transcendental it is approved by authorities. Who could fail to be attracted?
Purport by His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
According to Bhagavad-gétä (10.9) the characteristics of pure devotees are wonderful. The complete functional activities of a pure devotee are always engaged in the service of the Lord, and thus the pure devotees exchange feelings of ecstasy between themselves and relish transcendental bliss. This transcendental bliss is experienced even in the stage of devotional practice (sädhana-avasthä), if properly undertaken under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master. And in the mature stage the developed transcendental feeling culminates in realization of the particular relationship with the Lord by which a living entity is originally constituted (up to the relationship of conjugal love with the Lord, which is estimated to be the highest transcendental bliss). Thus bhakti-yoga, being the only means of God realization, is called kaivalya. Çréla Jéva Gosvämé quotes the Vedic version (eko näräyaëo devaù, parävaräëäà parama äste kaivalya-saàjïitaù) in this connection and establishes that Näräyaëa, the Personality of Godhead, is known as kaivalya, and the means which enables one to approach the Lord is called the kaivalya-panthä, or the only means of attainment of Godhead. This kaivalya-panthä begins from çravaëa, or hearing those topics that relate to the Personality of Godhead, and the natural consequence of hearing such hari-kathä is attainment of transcendental knowledge, which causes detachment from all mundane topics, for which a devotee has no taste at all. For a devotee, all mundane activities, social and political, become unattractive, and in the mature state such a devotee becomes uninterested even in his own body, and what to speak of bodily relatives. In such a state of affairs one is not agitated by the waves of the material modes. There are different modes of material nature, and all mundane functions in which a common man is very much interested or in which he takes part become unattractive for the devotee. This state of affairs is described herein as pratinivåtta-guëormi, and it is possible by ätma-prasäda, or complete self-satisfaction without any material connection. The first-class devotee of the Lord attains this stage by devotional service, but despite his loftiness, for the Lord’s satisfaction he may play the voluntary part of a preacher of the Lord’s glory and dovetail all into devotional service, even mundane interest, just to give the neophytes a chance to transform mundane interest into transcendental bliss. Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé has described this action of a pure devotee as nirbandhaù kåñëa-sambandhe yuktaà vairägyam ucyate. Even mundane activities dovetailed with service to the Lord are also calculated to be transcendental or approved kaivalya affairs.
Tolerating material modes
In this beautiful verse from the third chapter of the second canto of Srimad Bhagvatam, it is explained that transcendental knowledge is that knowledge which reconnects our relationship with Lord Sri Krishna and the result of such knowledge is that we are no longer subjected to the influences of the whirlpools of material nature. Srila Prabhupada explains that the modes of material nature are everywhere in this world and on the most exalted, purified state; we are so much immersed simply in remembering Krishna and tasting the sweetness of His transcendental glories that like a lotus flower we are simply not affected by the modes of material natures but in the aspiring stages we must, somehow or other, keep our mind and senses fixed in devotional service and tolerate the influences of the modes of material nature and not succumb to them. This is called tapasaya.
tapo divyaà putrakä yena sattvaà
çuddhyed yasmäd brahma-saukhyaà tv anantam
(Maharaj interacts with devotee)
As we are aspiring to progress in spiritual life, we must be willing to tolerate the urges created by the modes of material nature and the only way possible that we can do this, is to keep our mind and senses always engaged in positive, purifying, spiritual activities. Just as we are saying in this age of Kali-yuga, there is all pervading tendency to egoistically find faults in others. But, if we are sincere about Krishna Consciousness we will perform the austerity of speaking the glories of the Lord and speaking the glories of the Lord and the glories of the devotees and by keeping our minds and senses occupied through this most wonderful and purifying activity then we are able to tolerate our tendency to speak nonsense, to speak criticisms or blasphemies. So this is very important. In the third canto of the Bhagavatam, there is a verse that as long as devotees are gathering together to specifically hear and chant the glories of the Lord then enmity and envy cannot exist amongst them but as soon as the subject changes that tendency is there. So we must curb this tendency as a matter of life and death by chanting the glories of the Lord, by chanting the names of the Lord, by speaking of the good qualities of Krishna, of the previous Acharyas, of our god-brothers, our god-sisters, and all other Vaishnavas. This is very essential and whoever we are, our ability to please Krishna is dependent on our humility and we find in the lives of the greatest Vaishnavas, this is always the prominent quality.
Exalted Qualities of Narahari Chakravati
There was a very great devotee who lived just a few generations after Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, his name was Narahari Chaktravati and Narahari, he was so pure, so humble and so qualified. He was celibate from birth, he practically never engaged in any activities of sense gratification. He lived in the holy land of the Vrindavan; he was a favorite disciple of his spiritual master. He was expert musician, he knew how to wonderfully sing and dance and play musical instruments and he actually perfected the science and the art of music. He was also extremely, profoundly, deeply learned in all the bhakti çästras. He could preach magnificently, convincingly, warm and transform the hearts of whoever would hear him submissively. He could properly quote the scriptures and he would realize the conclusion of the scriptures but yet he would always presented himself as such humble servant of the servant of the Lord. In Vrindavan with the blessings of his Gurudev, he became the cook for Radha Govindaji at Rupa Goswami’s temple and because of his sincere desire; he became the best of all the cooks. Krishna can empower his devotees in the most wonderful ways. He would cook most varieties of the varieties of the most tasteful preparations for the pleasure of the Lord and throughout the day, he would always keep himself busy in doing services which helped to remind him that he was eternally the humble servant of the servant of the servant. He would with his own hands, for many hours every day; he would clean the courtyard of the Radha Govinda Temple. He would sweep it, he would pick up the garbages, he would dispose of it. He would also with him own hands; he would make sandalwood to be offered to the pujaris to give to the Lord. He would also very carefully go out and he would pick Tulsi leaves to give to the pujaris to offer to the Lord, he would also roam around Vrindavan finding nice flowers and bringing them back and making garlands to give to the pujaris to offer the Lord and for the cooking that would go on in the temple, he would go out into the forest of Bhraja and he would very carefully pickup the firewood that was on the ground and he would carry the firewood back with his own hands and offer it to the cooks and pujaris for their services. He did the work of ten men. He practically single handedly brought all the firewood that all the Tulsi leaves, all the flowers and did all the cleaning. And yet at the same time he was writing some of the most majestic and important literatures in the whole Vaishnava history. Bhakta-ratnakara, Srinivas Charitra, Narottam Vilas, so many others which even to this day Gaudiya Vaishnavas consider to be on the level of the Vedic literatures themselves, so full of devotion, revealing such deep, profound and highest philosophical truths. But his literatures were mainly simply praising the glories of the devotees of the past. And the pujaris of Radha Govindaji temple, they would plead with him, why are you working so hard doing all these menial services that anyone can do, sweeping the grounds, picking the flowers, carrying the wood.
Humility of Narahari Chakravati
He was the greatest writer of the time; he was the greatest musicians of the time; he was one of the best preachers of the time; they would plead with him to stop and with the sincere and genuine heart, he would reply that I am the most fallen, I have no qualification, I do not deserve to be called the devotee, nor do I have any qualification to engage in Krishna’s service but all of you Vaishnava devotees, you are so kind, you are so merciful that you are allowing me to try the best I can to render some little bit of the service. It is you glory, it is your mercy that all I am made of. This is the quality of real Vaishnava. Such a devotee is always busy with his body, mind, words and life in engage in positive devotional service. But such a devotee never takes credit nor does he even give credit to Krishna because he cannot reach Krishna directly to get His mercy. But such a devotee gives all credit to the spiritual master and to the assembly of the Vaishnavas who are bestowing the mercy of Krishna upon him and such a devotee always feels himself never as a great author, never as a great speaker, never as a great cook, never as a great money maker but always sees himself as just the servant of the servant of the servant. So this is the wonderful lesson that we learn which is the very essence of life and teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and this is what we must always strive to follow in the footsteps of such personalities because it is that ingredient of selflessness, pridelessness that gives flavor to our service for the satisfaction of Radha and Krishna