Addressing Bhakti-vriksa devotees @ Bangalore
Addressing Bhakti-vrksha devotees in Bangalore – Give, Give, Give Gauranga!–
August 19th, 2015
It is nice to meet some of the devotees who have taken the responsibility of serving us, Bhakti-vrksha leaders, and namahatta cell leaders. We would be very happy if the grhasthas could form a team and thereby spread Lord Caitanya's message worldwide.
The acaryas have said, “grihe thako bane thako sada hari bole dako.” The Grhastha ashrama is considered a responsible one. There are so many responsibilities in this ashrama. They are responsible for the husband/wife, for raising children, for productivity at their workplace, for the relatives’ well-being, for tax payment, etc. But grhasthas should be aware that they also have some spiritual responsibilities. And if they can allocate some time for spiritual life, that would be a very great thing. Most grhasthas are grhamedis, which means they are centered around bodily pleasures. And they can be quite miserly. One of the acaryas in the renounced order went begging to a house. The wife asked her husband, “there is a sannyasi here; what should we give him?” And the husband was eating when just then and he said, “Give him the ashes from the Chula (mud-oven).” Now, what’s the use of ashes?! But the sadhu thought, “Something is better than nothing. It would be of some use.” So the sadhu said, “All right, give me the ashes quick, instead of just talking about it.”
I feel so happy to see grhasthas who have taken spiritual life so seriously. And Prabhupada said in a store, they sell products at a fixed rate. But there’s also a system of bargaining when buying things. In Delhi, we saw some vegetable salesman. He would go door to door. He had a special mantra of saying the names of the vegetables. And when you heard it, you knew the vegetable man was there! Now you could bargain with him. Prabhupada met a farmer with basket full of vegetables in Mayapur once. He offered to buy the whole basket if the vegetable vendor would sell it to us with a discount on the price. Srila Prabhupada said, “You don’t have to go to the market and spend the whole day, standing there to sell it all. I’ll buy everything, but you have to give me a discount.” In this way, Prabhupada was teaching us how to get a cheaper price as he bargained with the vegetable vendor. Anyway, what we sannyasis do is…we sannyasis tend to be hard salesmen. "Surrender to Krishna,” we say strictly. But a grhastha can be a soft salesman. He can allow people to come to his house, take some prasadam, have a look around the house…until finally the guests realize that a grhastha lives just like them; that the only difference is, they chant Hare Krishna in addition. The visitor also sees that the grhasthas seem to be very peaceful and happy. Then the guests may start thinking, “Why don’t we also chant Hare Krishna and be happy like them?” In that way, you can reach places that we can’t reach. People get frightened when they see me. They think, “Oh no. What is going to tell us to give up?” Actually, we are just asking you to add Krishna to your life. Chant Hare Krishna and take Krishna prasadam. Just add Krishna to your life. Hare Krishna japa mani [chant Hare Krishna]. So in this way, every grhastha couple should try to reach out once or twice a week and get people to chant– get people to be Krishna conscious.
Some couples actively participate in outreach programs, and sometimes all their family members also take part. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura quotes Lord Caitanya as saying: “enechi aushadhi maya nasibaro lagi/ hari-nama maha-mantra lao tumi magi,” which translates to “I have brought the medicine called Harinama, which will wipe out the disease of illusion from which you are suffering. Accept this maha-mantra [and be relieved]. In his last verse, Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings: “I fell at the feet of Lord Caitanya and begged for the mercy of the maha-mantra. And I got it! I got it! I got it!” How happy he became after receiving the holy name! He was a grhastha. He was working for the government as the magistrate. He would spend certain hours with his family, and he would go out and preach during certain hours. Previously people lived on farms in the country. They mostly lead a rural life. But now more and more people are moving to the cities. So we found a nama-hatta system which is tailor-made for the cities; it’s called The Bhakti-vrksa Groups. In every place, there is some system that excels. This will be revealed to you, as you try to create systems. The West Africans in Benin had been doing harinam only once a week. And we wanted an increase of harinama in Benin, West Africa. So they started steadily increasing the number of harinamas from once to twice a week, from twice to thrice a week and then 4 times; then they were finally having harinama 5 times a week. Now, a miracle happened. People started coming to the temple. One of the visitors donated a vehicle. Things they never expected happened just by them chanting the holy names. The Africans could easily dance, play music, and sing. Sometimes south Indians chant the Visnu sahasranama; or maybe they like to read the Bhagavad-gita. Perhaps you can start a bhakti-vrksa and nama-hatta group. Different things are attractive to different people. We want people to take the medicine of the Hare Krsna chanting. This medicine of chanting is not bitter; rather, it is very sweet. In fact Rupa Goswami said, “How much bliss I get from two syllables “Krs” and “Na!”
Many yugas ago, a king could have multiple wives. So king Uttanapada had two wives. One was Suniti and the other was Surichi, each of whom had a son. But when Suniti’s son Dhruva approached his father and was trying to sit on his lap, Suruchi loudly said to Dhruva, “You are not my son, because you did not come from my womb; so you have no right to sit on the lap of the King,” so that she could be heard by the King also. So Dhruva got pushed off. Then Dhruva went to all the ministers and others, but none of them could do anything against the king. He went to his mother and His mother said, “Now, Suruchi is in the favor of the king. Dhruva said, “What I can do to get justice! I want justice!” He was a six-year-old boy. But he was a Ksatriya. He belonged in the lap of his father as much as anybody else. His mother finally said, “Well, great sages go to the forest and find Bhagavan. If you can find Bhagavan, he can solve all your problems.” So he went off to the forest. He had no idea who was Bhagavan or what he looked like. He had no idea what Bhagavan was. He went to the trees and asked, “Are you Bhagavan?” No reply. Then he went to the rocks, and asked, “Are you Bhagavan?” In this way, he began searching for Bhagavan all over the forest. “Where is Bhagavan, where is Bhagavan?” Visnu sent Narada Muni down to help him. So Dhruva then asked Narada Muni, “Are you Bhagavan?” Narada said, “No, no!” Dhruva said, “Then get away. I have to have to find Bhagavan.” Narada said, “I can help you find Bhagavan. But this forest is a dangerous place. You are just a little boy. Go back to the palace and be happy.”
Dhruva then angrily said, “Listen, are you going to help me find Bhagavan or not? If not, then get out of my way.” Then Narada Muni gave him the mantra. If you chant this mantra, you can realize Bhagavan.” So to make a long story short, Dhruva realized Bhagavan in 6 months and he became a great king like Manu. He got the Dhruva-loka which is a spiritual planet. At the end of life, on his way back to Godhead with the Visnudutas, he remembered that his mother had told him to look for Bhagavan. He knew that if it hadn’t been for her, he wouldn’t be going back to Godhead now. All she said was “Look for Bhagavan in the forest.” Whether Bhagavan was a tiger, a rock, or a tree… there was no information. “Just look for Bhagavan.” So Dhruva asked the Visnudutas where his mother was, and they pointed upward. He looked up and saw his mother going ahead of him in a celestial plane. She was saying, “Hurry up, hurry up, come on.” And since you all tell people more about who Bhagavan, you will all get a free ticket back to Godhead. But you will not get a free ticket back home unless you preach. Lord Caitanya gave the order, “jare dekho tare kaho Krishna upadesh.” Tell everyone about the teachings of Lord Krishna. The Bhagavad-gita is the teachings by Krishna. And the Srimad Bhagavatam is teachings about Krsna. Lord Caitanya wants us to do three things: 1) Bolo Krsna (chant Hare Krsna), 2) bhajo Krsna (serve Krishna), and 3) koro Krsna shiksha (study the teachings related to Krishna).
So our 2020 mission statement is: approach anyone Krishna sends you (neighbors, colleagues, etc) and execute this simple order of Lord Caitanya. In this way, you can increase the number of devotees. And nowadays there is 4G internet connection on mobile phones. Our spiritual 4G is: Give Give Give Gauranga!!! Husband and wife should do this as a team. I see that in some cases the wife stays home and takes care of kids, while the husband goes out and preaches; it doesn’t matter who stays home. Take this as a priority. Normally, it takes many many births to get back to Godhead, bahunam janmanam ante… but by the mercy of Lord Caitanya, you can get back even in one birth.
Sankaracharya says that one has to be a sannyasi for getting liberated. That’s the process of jnana-yoga. But through the bhakti yoga process, one can be a grhastha or a sannyasi; doesn’t matter. But one should try to please Krishna by his activities. Do things like having classes in your house, etc? If your house is small, you can have it in another house of bhakti vrksa members’ house, which may be bigger. In this way, get people involved. When one takes shelter of a bona fide guru, the Guru puts out the blazing fire of material existence. Anyway, before I finish my talk, I want all of you to know that with great effort, one of my secretaries has created a mobile phone application, which is available in different languages. He has a team of many members who are working on it. So you can download this application called Jps App and use it get updates about my classes, talks, etc. on your smart phones.
Anyway, if you have any questions you can ask now.
Devotee: Guru Maharaja, you said that Lord Chaitanya said we should preach to everyone and give Krsna-prema to everyone: “jare dekho tare kaho Krishna upadesh.” But can we also preach to people directly about Lord Caitanya? Generally, it is understood that we cannot preach to people about Lord Caitanya right away… So is it ok to preach about Lord Caitanya as soon as we meet a person?
Guru Maharaja: It depends on the digestive power of the people you are preaching to! In Bengal, they can digest information about Lord Caitanya quite easily. It is the same in Orissa also. In Karnataka, we have to see how to market the information. Lord Caitanya took his initiation from a Guru in the Madhava line. And there are lots of followers of Madhavacarya in Karnataka. May be it just depends on how you present it.
I am trying to write a book, combining all the different books on the pastimes of Lord Caitanya. (Haribol!) . I am just up to Lord Chaitanya marrying Laxmi Priya. And book said that He was so beautiful, he took things to the limit of beauty and his eyebrows were like cupids brows. And even pious ladies would see him and get shaken up. And the devis and devas came disguised as brahmanas and brahmanis to participate in the festival. Sometimes the men and the ladies were chanting hari dhwani. Haribol! Haribol!! Haribol!! And sometimes the ladies were doing uludhvani, ( all laughing). Here the Russian girls do it very well. They learnt from the Bengali ladies. So there is a type of song in the heavenly planets, Vallabhacarya bought his daughter out Laksmi Priya and she was finely dressed. She looked like Laksmi Devi. She was! She is Bhu-devi. So like this there is a nice description and that’s the system of bhakti yoga to hear the pastimes of the Lord from pure devotees. Who likes to hear the pastimes of Krsna and his different avatars ? Hare Krishna.