śrī śrī gāndharvikā-giridhārībhyam namaḥ
Śrī Caitanya Maṭha,
5 August, 1926
My dear ****,
I received your detailed report in your letter dated the 21st day of Aṣāḍha (June-July). When I received your letter, I was in Śrī Jagannatha-vallabha Maṭha in Śrī Puruṣottama (Purī). Then, after staying in Bhuvaneśvara and Cuttack for a few days, I went to Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha (in Kolkata). After being away for ten or twelve days, I have finally returned here [to Māyāpura].
You have been serving and protecting the Vārāṇasī Maṭha completely on your own, so I understand why your mind has prompted you to write a letter of this nature.
“krame krame pāya loka bhava-sindhu-kūla”
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 16.237)
Be patient, for one only crosses over this ocean of material existence and reaches the shore of transcendental existence by progressing step by step.
Genuine eagerness to attain the goal (samutkaṇṭhā), service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-sevā), service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s devotees (kārṣṇa-sevā), chanting the holy name (śrī nāma-kīrtana) and being bound by the hope that you will be successful on the spiritual path (āśā-bandha), all bring about one’s spiritual welfare. If we remain constantly engaged in all varieties of endeavours for the sake of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, we cannot be overpowered by the various allurements of māyā. You should always hear and chant, and read our Gauḍīya magazine as well as the books of the mahājanas (the exalted spiritual authorities). In this way you will never succumb to lethargy in the process of studying and assimilating our siddhānta (perfect spiritual conclusions).
You should engage in mutually hearing and speaking harikathā with all the devotees there with you. As you progress in bhajana you will gradually experience a mood of humility and insignificance within your heart. You already know that the most exalted devotee always considers himself to be the lowest of all – sarvottama’ āpanāke ‘hīna’ kari mane (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta,Madhya-līlā 23.26). Furthermore, aspiring for the spiritual welfare of our leads to progress in our own bhajana.
Although service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-sevā), service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s devotees (kārṣṇa-sevā) and chanting of the holy names (śrī nāma-kīrtana) are three different activities, they all share a common objective. Moreover…
• By engaging in śrī nāma-saṅkīrtana, one simultaneously performs service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa (śrī kṛṣṇa-sevā) and service to His devotees (śrī kārṣṇa-sevā).
• Be serving the Vaiṣṇavas – that is, by śrī kārṣṇa-sevā – śrī nāma-kīrtana and service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa are performed.
• And by serving Śrī Kṛṣṇa, śrī nāma-kīrtana and service to His devotees are performed.
The evidence for this is found in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.3.23):
sattvaṁ viśuddhaṁ vasudeva-śabditaṁ
yad īyate tatra pumān apāvṛtaḥ
sattve ca tasmin bhagavān vāsudevo
hy adhokṣajo me namasā vidhīyate
When situated in the absolutely pure state of existence known as ‘vasudeva’, one becomes aware of the all pervasive existence of Vāsudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for in that state the Supreme Being is revealed without any covering. I offer myself to that Lord, who is beyond ordinary sense perception.*
* In vasudeva consciousness, or when the consciousness is in śuddha-sattva, the soul is under the direct control of the internal potency. In that state, he perceives that the Absolute, Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is present in all his devotional activities. Specifically, He is present within śrī kṛṣṇa-sevā, within śrī kārṣṇa-sevā, and within śrī nāma-saṅkīrtana.
By reading and reciting Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, one is able to simultaneously perform service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and śrī nāma-saṅkīrtana. The same benefit is also achieved by reading and reciting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the association of devotees. In performance of arcana, these three activities are also accomplished. And through the performance of genuine nāma-bhajana as well, the same result is beautifully achieved.
* * *
You should perceive your former life and the impressions from it as conducive to performing bhajana. In other words, you should realize that the unfavourable conditions of your past are in fact a platform for the manifestation of favourable ones in the present. It is the very calamities that arise in unfavourable conditions that, in the very next moment, give birth to favourable conditions for bhajana. Everything within this visible world is verily an instrument for serving Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but our aversion to sevā inverts our intelligence, which consequently engages us in trying to enjoy these things.
Only when transcendental knowledge manifests in our hearts and we are finally able to perceive everything in relation to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, will we be safe from the effects of the poisonous fruit of pratiṣṭhā (honour and recognition).
cañcala-jīvana-srota pravāhiyā, kāler sāgare dhāya
Śrī Rādha-kṛṣṇa Pada-kamale Mana by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
The precarious current of your life is relentlessly pouring into the ocean of time.
When a person has attained this wisdom, his tendency to serve Śrī Hari will manifest at every step. Therefore, it is our duty to accept, with a satisfied heart, whatever pleases Śrī Kṛṣṇa. If Śrī Kṛṣṇa feels happy by keeping me in a state of aversion to Him, even then I shall respectfully accept any suffering I must consequently endure.
“Tomāra sevāya, duḥkha hoya yato, se-o to’ parama sukha – all the troubles I may encounter while serving You are actually the cause of great happiness” (Śaraṇāgati, Part 2, Song 8). This is the realization of the Vaiṣṇavas. You should try to follow this. When one’s anarthas (unwanted conditions) are purified through service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, then those very conditions become the cause of artha or prayojana – the most desirable, permanent welfare.
All the anarthas evident in the former way of life of Śrī Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, in the philosophical accounts of Śrī Sārvabhauma Bhattācārya in Purī, and in the illogical-arguments presented by Śrī Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī in the assembly of māyāvādī sannyāsīs at Vārāṇasī, eventually turned out to be kṛṣṇa-sevāmaya, full of service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, you should not at all worry about former anarthas. If we intensely engage in hearing and chanting, our present anarthas will not become prominent.
Our lives will only last a very short time, so until death arrives, you should try to serve Śrī Hari with honesty and sincerity. Following in the footsteps of the great spiritual authorities (mahājanas) is the only path that leads to spiritual welfare.
You should contemplate the words “ahaṁ tariṣyāmi duranta-pāraṁ… – I shall cross over the insurmountable ocean of nescience by worshipping the lotus feet of Mukunda” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam11.23.57).
I hope that everyone there is enthusiastically engaged in hari-kīrtana and in the service of Vaiṣṇavas. Please convey my heartfelt regards to everyone in a manner that is appropriate for each of them.
Due to the result of our previous karma, sometimes we remain healthy and sometimes we become ill. But the moment we consider ourselves actually healthy, we in fact enter into a state of aversion to Kṛṣṇa. And as a result we begin to imagine that Vaiṣṇavas who are more advanced than we are, are actually inferior to us. On account of this, Kṛṣṇa keeps us in various states of distress, pain, illness and disturbance in our life. In such times of distress, we try to understand the meaning of the verse beginning “tat te ’nukampāṁ… – Whenever a devotee experiences distress, he perceives it as the Lord’s mercy upon him” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.14.8).
When we become deeply absorbed in subject matters that have no connection to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, then we are plagued by the urge to quarrel with the people of this world. And even when we are constantly busy serving Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the people of this world attack us.
I hope that you are well.
With my blessings forever,
Śrī Siddhānta Sarasvatī
Translated from Śrīla Prabhupādera Patrāvalī*
by the Rays of The Harmonist team
* Śrīla Prabhupādera Patrāvalī is a compilation of letters from Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.