November 1, 1996
By Indradyumna Swami
I received a wonderful reception from the devotees at Durban’s Radha-Radhanatha Temple of Understanding. In my arrival address, I said that as a traveling sannyasi, I had the opportunity to visit many of the rooms within Srila Prabhupada’s house during the year and that all were doing well. (I was referring to the statement by a sociologist that Srila Prabhupada had built a house in which the whole world can live.) I went on to say that by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, I was always able to live in a wonderful spiritual environment.
In the afternoon I received the following letter from one of my disciples, a young girl:
My dear Srila Gurudeva,
Please accept my humble obeisances at your lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Grace. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Although my heart is gnawed by poisonous weeds, I am praying that my devotional creeper can blossom into a fragrant lotus flower. Some thoughts come to me. I am hankering to know who I am in the spiritual sky. I want to know by what name I am called there. I desire to know how to dress for the pleasure of Krsna. I want to know where I live in the eternal Vrndavana, and I desire to understand my special service to the Divine Couple. I want to know more about the pastimes of Radha and Krsna and Their associates. Sometimes I am anxious to know what pastimes are taking place at Govardhana Hill or Radha-kunòa.
I want to know who my spiritual master is in his spiritual form or siddha deha. I want to know who Srila Prabhupada is in the spiritual world and how he is serving Radha and Krsna and Their associates there. I know that my spiritual master is very dear to Srimati Radharäni and Her loving associates. I am so anxious to taste a drop of the nectar that is flowing in such a pure heart. I am anxious to taste a drop of Radha dasi bhava.
Please place me in a situation conducive for such attainment. I surrender at your lotus feet, my beloved Gurudeva.
The following is my reply: My dear disciple,
Please accept my blessings. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Thank you for your letter.
I appreciate your desire to advance in devotional service. But you should know that Krsna consciousness is a gradual development from sraddha to prema, and we cannot jump ahead prematurely. The process is outlined by Srila Rupa Gosvämi in his Bhakti-rasamrta- sindhu:
adau sraddha tatah sadhu
sango ‘tha bhajana-kriya
tato ‘nartha-nivrttih syat
tato nistha rucis tatah
athäsaktis tato bhavas tatah
sadhakanam ayam premnah
pradurbhave bhavet kramah
“In the beginning there must be faith. Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, one develops taste and attachment. This is the way of sadhana-bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to regulative principles. Gradually emotions intensify, and finally there is an awakening of love. This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Krsna consciousness.” (Bhakti-rasamrrta-sindhu 1.4.15-16)
You are at the stage of bhajana-kriya, practicing the rules and regulations of Krsna consciousness under the direction of your spiritual master. You are still a beginner. Your heart is full of impurities such as the desires for wealth, the opposite sex, and fame. You cannot claim to be beyond these things. These desires are deeply rooted in your heart. As a result you cannot fully realize the desires of liberated devotees. To think you can is called sahajiyaism, or a cheap pretense of pure devotion.
You want to know who you are in the spiritual sky, what your name is, and how to dress for the pleasure of Krsna. You ask what your special service is to the Divine Couple and what pastimes are taking place at Govardhana Hill and Radha-Krsna. But such pure realizations are bestowed only upon a devotee who has given up all selfish material desires and dedicated himself or herself to the menial service of the spiritual master for many lifetimes together. What service have you done for guru and Gauranga that you can ask for such things? Srila Prabhupada once said, “First deserve, then desire.” You want the highest benediction in Krsna consciousness without having done hardly anything to deserve it.
You are a beginner in Krsna consciousness and should be asking your spiritual master what you can do for him. Srila Prabhupada asked his spiritual master only one question: “How can I serve you?” This is the example you should follow. You cannot become a pure devotee of Krsna unless you have become a pure devotee of your spiritual master: yasya prasadad bhagavat prasado. First you must establish and develop a proper relationship with your guru before developing your relationship with Krsna. Can you honestly say you have a close relationship with your spiritual master based on inquiry and service? If not, then how can you possibly have one with Krsna?
In the 1930s ,Srila Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati wrote in his newspaper, The Harmonist: “A true disciple knows his Gurudeva to be someone who is extremely dear to Krsna and who is the Servitor Lord (Sevaka Bhagavan). A sincere disciple has the same devotion for his Gurudeva that he has for the Supreme Lord. And he worships and serves him the same way. Those who do not serve their Gurudeva this way fall from their position as a disciple. No one can chant the holy name purely unless they see Gurudeva as nondifferent from Krsna, as Krsna’s manifestation.
“I shall serve Sri Sri Guru and Gauränga with simplicity and sincerity under the guidance of Gurudeva. My Gurudeva has the words of the Supreme Lord, and I will be obedient to that word as the proper way. I will not disrespect my Gurudeva under the influence of anyone in this world. If I have to become proud, if I have to become a beast, if I have to go to hell by carrying out the order of Gurudeva who is sent by Krsna, then I want to sign a contract to go to hell for eternity. I will not listen to anything anybody says, other than the order of my Gurudeva. By the power that has come to me from the lotus feet of Gurudeva, I will throw out all other currents of consciousness of the world with a punch of my fist…a true disciple will have this kind of firm faith and determination.”
The actual fact is that you are simply a sentimental young girl. That’s it in a nutshell. You are the last one to be getting into Radha dasi bhava. Srila Prabhupada warned us all that if we delve into these matters prematurely, we can fall down from Krsna consciousness. Why? Because if we try to enter into Krsna’s conjugal pastimes while we ourselves are tainted by sex desire, we’ll become overwhelmed by our own material desires.
Srila Prabhupada wrote and spoke on Krsna’s intimate pastimes. But he gave us these things in proper doses. The process he gave is perfect, and by following it you will some day achieve perfection. In this regard you need not read any other books than the books of His Divine Grace. Because you have become confused by reading other books, I request you to go back to the basics and read Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita at least ten times. You need this, because the fact is that you have not actually realized that you are not this body. If you had realized you are not this body, then you would never be disturbed by material desires, which all neophyte devotees are. What right does anyone who has not yet realized the basic teachings of the spiritual master have to ask for the most advanced understandings? Don’t jump ahead.
Follow the standards Srila Prabhupada gave us. Chant sixteen good rounds daily. Sixteen quality rounds a day is more important than your chanting thirty-two rounds and asking for Radha dasi bhava.
Ultimately, of course, I want that you waken your love for Krsna. The spiritual master desires that for all his disciples. But you have to understand that such grace comes by serving the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya—and not otherwise.
If you at all hope to get Krsna prema, you must work very hard to assist Lord Caitanya’s mission according to your abilities. If you want to be dear to the Lord, listen to what endears a devotee to Him:
ya idam paramam guhyam
bhaktim mayi param krtva
mam evaisyaty asamsayah
“For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.” (Bhagavad-gita 18.68)
na ca tasman manusyesu
kascin me priya-krttamah
bhavita na ca me tasmad
anyah priyataro bhuvi
“There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” (Bhagavad-gita 18.69)
In conclusion, be honest about your level of Krsna consciousness and act accordingly. Don’t try to imitate great liberated devotees. Serve your spiritual master as a humble servant and engage in the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya.
Your ever well-wisher,