Writings

Caitanya Caritamrta class given on 11 November 2007

Caitanya Caritamrta Adi Lila, Ch. 7, texts 95-96

ei tanra vakye ami drdha visvasa dhari’
nirantara krsna-nama sankirtana kari
sei krsna-nama kabhu gaoyaya, nacaya
gahi, naci nahi ami apana-icchaya

TRANSLATION
“I firmly believe in these words of My spiritual master, and therefore I always chant the holy name of the Lord, alone and in the association of devotees. That holy name of Lord Krsna sometimes causes Me to chant and dance, and therefore I chant and dance. Please do not think that I intentionally do it. I do it automatically.

PURPORT
A person who cannot keep his faith in the words of his spiritual master but acts independently never receives the authority to chant the holy name of the Lord. It is said in the Vedas (Svetasvatara Up. 6.23): yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakasante mahatmanah [SU .23]”Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.” This Vedic injunction is very important, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu supported it by His personal behavior. Believing in the words of His spiritual master, He introduced the sankirtana movement, just as the present Krsna consciousness movement was started with belief in the words of our spiritual master. He wanted to preach, we believed in his words and tried somehow or other to fulfill them, and now this movement has become successful all over the world. Therefore faith in the words of the spiritual master and in the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the secret of success.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu never disobeyed the orders of His spiritual master and stopped propagating the sankirtana movement. Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, at the time of his passing away, ordered all his disciples to work conjointly to preach the mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world. Later, however, some self-interested, foolish disciples disobeyed his orders. Each one of them wanted to become head of the mission, and they fought in the courts, neglecting the order of the spiritual master, and the entire mission was defeated.

We are not proud of this; however, the truth must be explained. We believed in the words of our spiritual master and started in a humble way-in a helpless way-but due to the spiritual force of the order of the supreme authority, this movement has become successful. It is to be understood that when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu chanted and danced, He did so by the influence of the pleasure potency of the spiritual world. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu never considered the holy name of the Lord to be a material vibration, nor does any pure devotee mistake the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra to be a material musical manifestation. Lord Caitanya never tried to be the master of the holy name; rather He taught us how to be servants of the holy name. If one chants the holy name of the Lord just to make a show, not knowing the secret of success, he may increase his bile secretion, but he will never attain perfection in chanting the holy name.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu presented himself in this way: “I am a great fool and do not have knowledge of right and wrong. In order to understand the real meaning of the Vedanta-sutra, I never followed the explanation of the Sankara-sampradaya or Mayavadi sannyasis. I’m very much afraid of the illogical arguments of the Mayavadi philosophers. Therefore I think I have no authority regarding their explanations of the Vedanta-sutra. I firmly believe that simply chanting the holy name of the Lord can remove all misconceptions of the material world. I believe that simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord one can attain the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. In this age of quarrel and disagreement, the chanting of the holy names is the only way to liberation from the material clutches. “By chanting the holy name,” Lord Caitanya continued, “I became almost mad. However, after inquiring from My spiritual master I have come to the conclusion that instead of striving for achievement in the four principles of religiosity [dharma], economic development [artha], sense gratification [kama] and liberation [moksa], it is better if somehow or other one develops transcendental love of Godhead. That is the greatest success in life.

One who has attained love of Godhead chants and dances by his nature, not caring for the public.” This stage of life is known as bhagavata-jivana, or the life of a devotee. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued, “I never chanted and danced to make an artificial show. I dance and chant because I firmly believe in the words of My spiritual master. Although the Mayavadi philosophers do not like this chanting and dancing, I nevertheless perform it on the strength of his words. Therefore it is to be concluded that I deserve very little credit for these activities of chanting and dancing, for they are being done automatically by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

My Class:

These are very important instructions from Lord Caitanya in the seventh chapter of the Adi Lila of the Caitanya Caritamrta. In fact, when Srila Prabhupada was in the process of translating and writing the purports to the entire Caitanya Caritamrta, when he had completed the seventh chapter, he had it printed as a book in itself before the rest of the Caitanya Caritamrta was completed. It was already existing as a paper-back book, Lord Caitanya in Five Features. And it was just this seventh chapter. And then, some time later, whenever it was, then the entire seventeen-volume set of Caitanya Caritamrta was published. So, certainly that indicates that this chapter of Caitanya Caritamrta is particularly important, even amongst the subject matters of Caitanya Caritamrta, and Caitanya Caritamrta is exceptionally important.

It is the post-graduate study. Or even the post-post-graduate study. Srila Prabhupada would say that Bhagavat Gita is to bring you to the level of qualification. The level of like having a degree. If you have a degree, then its accepted, you have some qualification. But then you can go on beyond that, and that, the literature for that, the post-graduate, or shall we say up to Masters, that is Srimad Bhagavatam. But then one can always go beyond the Masters degree of course. And, in terms of Krsna Consciousness, the post-post-graduate, the Doctorate level literature, so to speak, is this Caitanya Caritamrta.

So, it really is a book of the greatest importance and should not be underestimated at all, even ultimately in one sense, even more important than Srimad Bhagavatam. Certainly no less important. But then, within Caitanya Caritamrta, Srila Prabhupada extracted this chapter – it’s a lengthy chapter – and presented it as a book in and of itself, well before the rest of the Caitanya Caritamrta was published. So here, at this particular point in the chapter, Lord Caitanya has met His spiritual master. Lord Caitanya, in His early days,before He met His spiritual master, He was not really showing so many symptoms of being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, even of being a devotee. In many ways, He was acting like an ordinary person. Sometimes the Lord does this when He appears. And Lord Caitanya was no exception.

Even Lord Krsna, when He appeared, then He would also sometimes conduct Himself as if He was apparently an ordinary person. He was a cowherd boy. Little boy, running around with other little boys, playing games and so on and so forth. And these are essentially activities of ordinary people, ordinary little children. But Krsna did those things. And Lord Caitanya also did those things. But even more so in one sense. Lord Caitanya did so, even more so, in that Krsna, as a child, He would exhibit some superhuman feats. He killed so many demons. And every day actually. Every day Lord Krsna was doing some stupendous activities, totally superhuman. And as a result, even though the inhabitants of Vrndavan were attached to Him in a mood of intimate love. And in that mood of intimate love they would overlook the fact that He was displaying abilities and powers far beyond those of an ordinary child, even of an ordinary adult. Far beyond. Completely in another dimension altogether, from what some modern-day superhero may do.

After all even SupermaniI remember from My youthihe was subject to the influence of, what was it? Kryptonite! And he would become all flummoxed then. But not Krsna. He would do these things. He would not have to slip into a telephone booth… (Laughter)ito change his clothes. He would just do the most incredible things. And He didn’t try to hide it.

But still, when Lord Krsna was doing those things, and everything He was doing those things. For years. But the devotees, their love for Him was so great that they never really seriously considered that maybe He is God. But rather that power of that love was so great that it kept them thinking, “He’s just and ordinary boy like us, or and ordinary person like us. And they never wavered from that conviction. Lord Caitanya though, He went beyond that. And for the so many years, up to the age of 16, He did not display anyiwell He did sometimes but onlyinot on many occasions. Otherwise He was acting so much as an ordinary child. Even He was acting as if He was not a devotee. He would go and make fun of the devotees. When they were chanting.

Sometimes when we go in public, chanting in the streets, some person comes and mocks and sort of mimics the dancing and chanting, in some sort of sarcastic, belittling way. This happens. So Lord Caitanya, He would do that. “You Hare Krsna! Hari Bol! Ha! Ha! Ha! (Laughter). And even sometimes He would have arguments with the devotees that, “You believe that Krsna is God, tell me why.” They would explain something, He would defeat their arguments. As if He was anti-God. So really even though He did on some occasions not in big ways, but just in some mystical ways, He displayed some superhuman powers, but not like Krsna did. But then, when Lord Caitanya was about 16, He met His spiritual master Isvara Puri, and that relationship developed. And Isvara Puri had a very big impact on Lord Caitanya’ life, and on Lord Caitanya as a person. And Lord Caitanya really changed.

Now of course, this is all part of the lila. It was not that Lord Caitanya was bewildered and He really forgot that He was God and He really thought that Krsna Consciousness was nonsense. Obviously not. He’s just acting like that for the sake of the pastimes. Then when He met Isvara Puri, and accepted Him as spiritual master very deeplyi of course there are different levels of accepting one’s spiritual master as one’s spiritual master. Some people do it officially.

Some people do it just for social standing. “Everbody else is initiated, I better get initiated otherwise they’ll look down on me or I will not get certain facilities. Something like that. Different reasons people accept spiritual master. Even different reasons and different degrees. Lord Caitanya accepted a spiritual master absolutely. Totally. A 100%. We might think that, “Yes. I must do that. I will do that.” Or even we may be thinking, “I am doing that.” But while we are still conditioned, it is not very easy to do that. To accept and take shelter, that can be done, but absolutely that is another thing. That comes on another level of devotional service, but Lord Caitanya He did that. And, of course, not that He needed a spiritual master to sort Himself out, and to right His wrongs and so on.

But He did that to set an example. And when He did it, He did it absolutely and set the absolutely perfect example. How to be a disciple, of the spiritual master. And so this is very important. And this is one of the things of the seventh chapter of the Adi lila which makes that chapter so important. Srila Prabhupada explains here, in the first part of the purport, that in order to be successful in Krsna Consciousness, one has to do that.

It is essential to absolutely accept the authority of the spiritual master. Prabhupada begins the purport by saying, “A person who cannot keep his faith in the words of the spiritual master, but acts independently never receives the authority to chant the Holy Name of the Lord.” So, people may chant Hare Krsna, sometimes, you know, every few years somebody comes out with a new pop song which has the Hare Krsna maha mantra in it, in some way or another.

First it was George Harrison many years ago. And then, a few others From time to time. Then it was Boy George. We still feature that at our programs sometimes. But now I heard. Just a few days ago I heard some Bollywood star has come out with some song with Hare Krsna. Someone was telling me. You know about it? Any of you Bollywood experts? (Laughter) You heard about it?! What’s it called? (Bul Bolaya) Bul Bolaya? What does that mean? It’s a famous movie is it? I must remember that name. (Laughter) Bul Bolaya? I will have to remember that so I don’t have to keep mentioning Kuch Kuch Hota He. (Laughter) And, what’s the song called? (Bul Bolaya) The songs called Bul Bolaya? Aha. Now don’t go running to see that movie! (Laughter) But apparently this is the latest manifestation. Of course George Harrison was a devotee. And Boy George was a devotee and remains a devotee, to some degree.

Ok, putting all the details aside, sometimes you get these things happening. Sometimes you get these things happeningiand some person, who’s not sincere, enough. Not a devotee. But they try to use the maha mantra or something of Krsna Consciousness. They try to use it for their material purposes, to make money. Even George Harrison said that when he did that song My Sweet Lord, which in its day was extremely popular, it was really immensely popular. It was top of the hit parade for weeks. But he didn’t give the money for Krsna’s service. He kept the money for himself. And a little later, a few months later, some people sued him about that song because it has the same tune as another very popular pop song, which had been released a few years before. The name of which escapes me at the moment, but you know from My youth I was familiar with this song. And when this all happened, I listened to both and I realized. Yeah. Oh yeah, the song, well I don’t know if any of you would be experienced enough in the youth culture of the Western world of the 1960’s, to be familiar with this, but the song was He’s So Fine, I think it was by the Ronettes. But anyway he lost all the money. He lost every cent that he made from that song which was his most popular song on his own. And later he told us that he attributed to the fact that he tried to keep the money for himself.

So here, Prabhupada says a person who really can’t keep faith in the words of his spiritual master and acts independently, even in an apparently Krsna Conscious way, will not get the authority to chant the Holy Name. In other words, the whole thing will end up materially influenced and contaminated. This is a very important point. Srila Prabhupada quotes this verse from the Svetasvara Upanisad, which he quoted in many places, many times. Many, many times Prabhupada quoted this verse yasya deve parar bhaktir ithat one who has absolute faith in deve, in the Supreme Lord. And in guror, in the spiritual master. Tasyaita kathita, in their words. Prakasanta mahatmanah, then everything becomes revealed to him. Everything becomes complete in their lives, even effortlessly.

Lord Caitanya, at this particular point in the narration, he is speaking to a Mayavadi, Prakasananda Sarasvati, big Mayavadi preacher, extremely influencial Mayavadi philosopher and teacher. And Lord Caitanya happened to meet him in Benares. Lord Caitanya had already been there for a little while. And while He was there Lord Caitanya had been engaging in sankirtana in the streets, and people were joining Him like mad. They were just crowds and hugeithousands of people, gathering around Lord Caitanya and dancing and chanting like mad. It was just turning the whole city upside down. And Prakasananda Sarasvati was a big Mayavadi acarya, and via some of the devotees he presented an invitation to Lord Caitanya, “Come and meet me.” And the idea was that they would have some sort of discussion, and he would try and convince Lord Caitanya, “Stop chanting and dancing like this. You must sit down and discuss Vedanta philosophy, and speculate on Vedanta philosophy. These are the activities of a sannyasi. Don’t do all this chanting and dancing like a sentimentalist. Sentimantal fanatic. Going wild on the streets. It is not appropriate. It is undignified.”

So he tried. Lord Caitanya came and met him and he tried to convince Lord Caitanya, but the Lord immediately told him, “You know what, My spiritual master told Me, ‘Don’t bother studying the very abstruse, complicated and very difficult to understand Vedanta sutra philosophy. Don’t bother. Just chant the Holy Names. Just chant.’ Isvara Puri, the spiritual master of Lord Caitanya, he ordered the Lord like that. And Lord Caitanya did not say, “Oh, but My dear Guru Maharaj. You know what? I like the Vedanta sutra philosophy. Couldn’t I do it sometimes?” (Laughter) “I’ll chant and dance most of the time, but can’t I discuss Vedanta sutra sometimes?” He just accepted it. And He did that. He just went chanting and dancing. And after a while He found He was manifesting symptoms of ecstacy. Tears were coming from His eyes, His body was shaking. Sometimes He would faint on the ground and other symptoms. And Lord Caitanya acted as if He didn’t know what was going on.

Of course, you know, if you were an ordinary person, and life is going on, and suddenly these things start happening to you, out of the blue, then you will also wonder what’s going on. So, of course, Lord Caitanya knew what was going on but He acted like He was an ordinary person. And He came back to His spiritual master and He explained, “These things are happening to Me. I think I’m going mad. I think I will have to chant less. It is having some adverse effect on Me.” Sometimes we meet people, they say like that, “I think I’m chanting too much, because something is happening. I am becoming dizzy. Or whatever.’

Prabhupada, in New Yorkione hippy, enthusiastic LSD-user, like daily diet came to Prabhupada and said, “You know, when I chant Hare Krsna, I see red lights flashing in front of my eyes. What does it mean?” And Prabhupada said, “Just carry on chanting, it will go away.” (Laughter) So, Lord Caitanya questioned His spiritual master, “Is something wrong? What is going on?” But Isvara Puri said, “Actually this is very good.” And he congratulated Lord Caitanya, “You have attained the perfection of life. Well done. Just carry on. Don’t stop. Just carry on.” And that’s what Lord Caitanya did, and He was doing that very thing in Benares when He met this Prakananda Sarsvati. And so in the past few verses Lord Caitanya has been expressing this conviction, “I must follow t he orders of My spiritual master. Even though sometimes my mind, being what it is, may not be able to grasp something and maybe even some other idea may pop up in my mind. But I will not take that into account.” Even Srila Prabhupada said that.

Sometimes Srila Bhaktisiddhanta would speak in very abstruse Englishiif you’ve read Brahma Samhita you would seeiand sometimes he would speak in very abstruse Bengali. Just like you go to India, and you may be from South African Hindi background. And you may know a little “kitchen Hindi”. (Laughter) Bojpuri, ek se. Then you may go to India, and someone may speak in what they call like Sanskritized Hindi. They call suddh Hindi. Or maybe some dialect. And you may, with your “kitchen Hindi” knowledge, you may be trying to figure out what is being said.

So Srila Prabhupada said that when his spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta would speak, sometimes he would not be able to understand. But he would not become doubtful, “Why is he speaking like this?” He would not go away, thinking that, “I cannot understand. I should go and find something more useful to do. Like chant my rounds, or something.” He would just stay and listen. Even Srila Prabhupada, when he took some of his disciples to India for the first time had programs. Prabhupada would sometimes speak in Hindi, and the devotees would not understand at all. And some of them did actually get up and walk out. Not just to sleep or do something useless, but to do some service. They thought it would be better than sitting there, hearing what to them was, mainly, meaningless. But Srila Prabhupada, he stopped them from doing that. He stopped them and told them, “Even though you don’t understand the languagei what to speak of some subtle concepts or complicated ideasieven if you don’t understand the language,
still stay and listen, because the sound vibration will purify the heart.”

Yes. So, Lord Caitanya exhibited that faith. Srila Prabhupada exhibited that faith. And here in the purport, Srila Prabhupada is bringing this point out in a very, another very important way, but its particularly important in terms of current circumstances, here in South Africa. Spiritual circumstances. Prabhupada makes the point in the purport, that when his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati left this world, that his (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s) disciplesi In fact, basically all. And certainly all of the main ones like the leaders, the prominent ones, the sannyasis, the preachers and managers also.

Those more so to speak “important” devotees. They all, except for Srila Prabhupada, they all missed the point, that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta wanted them very much. He actually wanted them, not that he would like them to, but he specifically ordered them to work together. Not have one person become the acarya, the leader. Like permanent, institutionalized leader, but people could become spiritual masters as they showed some qualification, but the leading would be doneithe actual leader, would be the governing body, and not one individual.

One of our experiences in Indian spiritual societies, Indian spiritual circles, is that this idea that there will not be one leader, there will not be one acarya or, you know, it depends, avataraithat is the particular type of perspective. But there will not be one particular person, but rather there will be a group of people who will lead, by consensus and through the results of discussion. This is an immensely difficult point for people to digest. Immensely difficult. Even to the point that amongst those people, who out of all of them from India. India, of course, is a very spiritual place. Most spiritual place. Out of all those spiritual peopleiso many spiritual people, you would expect these ones to get that idea. They couldn’t get the idea. So almost immediately after Srila Bhaktisiddhanta left this world, they started competing and, in different ways, trying to gain supremacy. And eventually, they elected one of them to be the acarya, the leader, the permanent leaderiof the whole mission. But he failed. In fact, he fell down. Completely. And became totally degraded. Very sad. And eventually he ran of with a prostitute. And then he married her, and eventually she murdered him. So then they understood that this idea of one
person being the acarya of the whole institution is not going to work. “So what to do? Shall we now make a governing body?”

No. They then fragmented into many little organizations and each one had it’s own acarya. And that remains the situation to this day. And out of all of them, only Srila Prabhupada was able to spread Krsna Consciousness in any sort of meaningful way at all. It is quite astonishing, the scale of Srila Prabhupada’s success in spreading the movement of Lord Caitanya compared to the success of his contemporaries, his Godbrothers. Srila Prabhupada’s success was many, many times greater than all his Godbrothers put together. You know, unfortunately after Srila Prabhupada left some of the devotees failed to really grasp this point themselves and left ISKCON and went and joined some of these many different Gaudiya Math institutions.

And some of them have gained some membership, but in virtually all cases they’re all simply ex-ISKCON devotees. And its rather a sad thing, that they’ve missed this point. That one has to accept the words of the spiritual master, the bona-fide spiritual master as absolutely and follow it, even if one doesn’t understand it. Sometimes, somehow even if one somehow even may think that the spiritual master is mistaken, but the bona-fide spiritual master should always be followed and never deviated from. So this is a very important point for us in ISKCON, because nowadays these followers of those Godbrothers of Srila Prabhupada, they are somewhat active, even here in South Africa. Little bit. And, of course, what is their program? They can’t really, at least they find it very difficult to get members of the public, just ordinary people to join. So normally they remain around the periphery of ISKCON, and try and sort of stealthily, cleverly get members of ISKCON to join them.

And, as Prabhupada says here, “We are not proud of this. However, the truth must be explained.” It’s a sad situation. Yeah. Prabhupada would sayi In fact he said to his Godbrothers as they were descending more and more into this world of courtcases and competing with each other, sometimes even violently attacking each other physically, and so on.

Prabhupada, in one Vyasapuja offering to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, a few years after Srila Bhaktisiddhanta had left. Prabhupada said about,to his Godbrothers, speaking in his Vyasapuja offering as an appeal to his Godbrothers, “In the manner of businessmen, you increase your disciples.” You know, I think all of us adults have an idea of what “business” means. Wheeling and dealing and you can say anything, as long as you get the sale. (Laughter) That’s what matters. So, its like that, unfortunately. But let us stick to Srila Prabhupada, and stick with those who are sticking to Srila Prabhupada. And this way we’ll progress. We’ll be able to spread Krsna Consciousness as Prabhupada was able. Not that he felt that it was his doing, but still he was able, by that mercy coming through disciplic succession, due to his strict following. So, we alsoiand not that we can claim that it is through our abilities or whatever that Krsna Consciousness
is being spread. But even ourselves, if we follow strictly, then that mercy comes and Krsna Consciousness can spread and is spreading all over the world. So let us read the verse again:

ei tanra vakye ami drdha visvasa dhari’
nirantara krsna-nama sankirtana kari
sei krsna-nama kabhu gaoyaya, nacaya
gahi, naci nahi ami apana-icchaya

TRANSLATION
“I firmly believe in these words of My spiritual master, and therefore I always chant the holy name of the Lord, alone and in the association of devotees. That holy name of Lord Krsna sometimes causes Me to chant and dance, and therefore I chant and dance. Please do not think that I intentionally do it. I do it automatically.

Hare Krsna! I think we will end there. Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

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