Friday, January 13, 2012

Transcending material nature

Transcending the Curse of Material Existence
By Narasimha das
Recently I heard that yet another one of the ISKCON gbc-elected “iskurus” had been exposed for repeated gross deviations and that he had resigned in disgrace. Although this severe offender wrote a letter of so-called apology, he failed to advise his hundreds of followers to take full shelter of Srila Prabhupada. Nor did he accept the gravity of his offense to Srila Prabhupada and to the Vaisnavas in his charge and offer to make amends.

This lack of remorse and determination for rectification expressed in his pseudo-apology has angered many devotees. All this reminded me of the history from Srimad-Bhagavatam Ninth Canto of the pure devotee Prishadra. This is the story of a young kshatriya named Prishadra, who took the noble vow of standing alone all night to guard the cows in the goshala. 

One night in the rain, when the light of the stars was covered by dense darkness, a tiger entered the cow shed and grabbed a cow and began to carry it away. Prishadra, hearing the crying cow, followed the sound and swung his sword with great force at the tiger but cut off the head of the cow instead. The tiger was slightly wounded and ran away in great fear.
The next morning, when Prishadra realized his mistake, he was very sorry. In spite of his remorse, Vasistha Rishi, his spiritual master, cursed him to become a sudra in his next life. He accepted the curse of his guru with folded hands, and then left the kingdom to go the forest to practice bhakti-yoga while following a vow of total celibacy for the rest of his life. He completely controlled his senses and fixed his mind totally on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. After controlling his mind and senses and becoming fully detached from the external world of matter, he wandered about as if an aimless madman while always remaining fully absorbed in remembering the Supreme Lord at all times and all places. In this way Sriman Prishadra Prabhu, unlike the gbc pretender mentioned above, showed the best example of atonement for his accidental severe sin. 

One day in the forest Prishadra saw a blazing forest fire and took this opportunity to end his life by entering the fire. Immediately upon Prishadra’s death, in spite of the curse of his guru, he went back home, back to Godhead. Such spiritually motivated suicide is sometimes practiced by great personalities who have conquered their minds and senses and realized fully the futility of material existence. Long ago, Lord Rishabhadeva, a visnu-tattva incarnation of the Supreme Lord and the best example and emblem for those in the paramahamsa status of life, entered a forest fire to burn His transcendental body to ashes here in Kodachadri Valley, where I am presently visiting.
Those who are not yet fully surrendered disciples of Srila Prabhupada must remain fearfully enduring all the many pangs of material existence, even while trying to chant Hare Krishna. No amount of money, followers or prestige can save one from the curse of material existence in general or, specifically, the ill will of sadhaka devotees and great sages like Vasistha Rishi. If we insist on remaining attached to the material world for any reason, even in the name of preaching, we must continually endure birth, death, old age and disease again and again, even while supposedly chanting Hare Krishna.

Another interesting point in the story of the pure devotee Prishadra is that his own spiritual master, Vasistha, cursed him rather than blessed him with a method of elevation. Srila Prabhupada comments that this fact indicates that Vasistha was influenced by the mode of ignorance. Srila Prabhupada quotes Srila Visvanatha Chakravati Thakura in this regard, who concludes that Vasistha’s intelligence was durmati, or “not very good”.

Unless one accepts as spiritual master one who is always completely beyond the influence of material nature-- in other words, an uttama-adhikari or mahabhagavata such as Srila Prabhupada or Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura-- he may not find the remedy for ending the curse of material existence for many, many lifetimes, even though he may be fortunate enough to get someone as exalted as Vasistha Rishi as guru. Throughout the Vedas it is confirmed that Vasistha is one of the greatest sages in the universe and is worshipped even by great demigods and rishis in heaven; yet even he became influenced by the tamo-guna.

In His purports to Sri Isopanisad, Srila Prabhupada repeatedly stresses that one must hear from and accept only an “undisturbed acarya” to get relief from the bondage of the powerful illusory energy of the Lord: “Unless one hears from the bona fide acarya, who is never disturbed by the changes of the material world, one cannot have the real key to transcendental knowledge.” And throughout His books He emphatically stresses that “One who is disturbed by the whirlpool movements of the material energy is not qualified to become an acarya.” (Sri Isopanisad, Mantra Thirteen, Purport.) The story of Prishadra and Vasistha illustrates why all sastras and all true acaryas advise that intelligent devotees should accept only an uttama-adhikari, a fully self-realized Vaisnava, as guru. “… a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as spiritual master.” (Nectar of Instruction, Text 5, Purport)

Fortunate souls who have accepted the most merciful Srila Prabhupada as spiritual master, even though they may make serious mistakes in their service, can still cross beyond the ocean of birth and death and achieve Lord Krishna’s full mercy without a doubt if they are humble and unpretentious. Therefore, one who has mistakenly accepted an upstart as guru should ignore such a pretender and accept Srila Prabhupada exclusively by hearing from Him carefully and serving His lotus feet. This path is open to everyone (tandera carana sevi bhakta-sanivas). The fall downs and curses of so-called gurus with “not very good” intelligence will never disturb Srila Prabhupada’s bona fide disciples. By Srila Prabhupada’s divine grace only, a sincere devotee quickly gives up material attachments by achieving a higher taste in Krishna consciousness. 

According to Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita, such a determined devotee doesn’t need to take birth again in this material world. Rather, he or she transcends all impediments, as did Prishadra Prabhu, and goes back home, back to Godhead immediately after death. This is possible only for fortunate devotees who experience the higher taste of Krishna consciousness by Srila Prabhupada’s divine grace.

Guru-krsna prasade paya, bhakti-lata bija.
Rasa-varjam raso ‘py asya, param drstva nivartate

1 comment:

  1. Narayana Swami telling we shouldnt bother about fallen gurus...let it all happen.

    Syamarani dasi: Nowadays, many of the devotees coming into ISKCON and taking diksa from our god-brothers are understanding that their gurus are not on Srila Prahbupada’s level of uttama, but that they are on some level of madhyama. Is it okay for them to think that their guru is on some level of madhyama?

    Srila Gurudeva: They should think, “My Gurudeva is really a Vaisnava, and by surrendering to him, we can attain the service of Radha and Krsna.” If they do not regard their guru in this way, they will not be able to obey their holy master, and gradually they will go down. If they think, “My guru is really a Vaisnava, bhagavat-svarupa (a manifestation of the Supreme Lord), they will gradually go up. Then, when their heart becomes so sincere, Krsna will arrange the right person as guru.

    Jagatarini dasi: Perhaps the disciples’ madhyama guru is ahead of them, and if he is advancing and advancing, then he will be able to guide them to some proper course?

    Srila Gurudeva: Guru is akhanda-tattva. If a guru says, “Chant harinama,” this idea is not of that gurudeva. It is of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Svami. And actually, this idea came from his guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and actually this idea came from his guru. At last, the origin is Krsna, and from Krsna comes Baladeva Prabhu.

    Krsna is akhanda-guru; Baladeva akhanda-guru. We should obey our spiritual master and think that he is obeying Krsna and Baladeva, the root gurus. We should think that, “In this way, I am obeying Baladeva Prabhu.” Guru is a manifestation of Baladeva Prabhu.

    If we see that our guru is different from Baladeva Prabhu, Rupa Gosvami, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, then we should do namaskara (offer respects) to him, and have no further relation with him – if there is a difference. And if there is no difference, we should treat him as a manifestation of Baladeva Prabhu.

    Syamarani dasi: But hundreds or thousands of ISKCON devotees now think, “My Gurudeva is madhyama”. This is because of all that happened in ISKCON.

    Srila Gurudeva: Do you think your Gurudeva is madhyama?

    Syamarani dasi: No.

    Srila Gurudeva: Why?

    Syamarani dasi: Because he has the words and characteristics and symptoms of an uttama-adhikari.

    Srila Gurudeva: You are coming to me. What do you think about me? Do you think I am uttama or kanistha?

    Syamarani dasi: I think you are uttama.

    Srila Gurudeva: I’m telling you that I am kanistha-adhikari.

    Syamarani dasi: I don’t believe it. None of us here believe it.

    Srila Gurudeva: You are not believing?

    Syamarani dasi: No. Because you have the laksana (symptoms) of an uttama.

    Srila Gurudeva: Oh, you know the laksana of an uttama?

    Syamarani dasi: Well, you seem to.

    Srila Gurudeva: [laughing with some sarcasm, as only an uttama-bhakta, or madhyama-uttama, can actually recognize such symptoms with realization] You are so qualified.

    Jagatarini dasi: A disciple cannot really see on what level his guru is situated. You have said on other occasions that he has not got the qualification to judge.

    Srila Gurudeva: Why are you bothering about these things? You have connection with a real guru, so what problems are with you?

    Syamarani dasi: None. But we are surrounded by people in ISKCON who have these problems and are asking these questions.

    Srila Gurudeva: They should work out their problems. Why are you wasting your time with this? I am also travelling in so many places, and I am not bothered. I believe in akhanda-guru-tattva – purna-guru-tattva (the full, complete, undivided principle of guru).


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