Today, the devotees of the Gopinatha Gaudiya Math have made a special effort to celebrate my birthday with great pomp. I am truly truly unworthy of such attention. But my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada is sitting on the altar here, and beside him, all my worshipable deities and predecessor acaryas are present. I am just one of their insignificant servants. Bhaktivinoda Thakura taught us the following song which he himself had written:
sarvasva tomara carana sampiyaI am the dog of my spiritual master's dog. You have all offered worship to my spiritual master Srila Prabhupada. And his pet dog is sitting at his feet. As you worshiped my Gurudeva, one or two of the flowers have fallen onto the dog's body--that isn't worshiping the dog, it is the worship of my worshipable deity. That is how I take it. So many devotees have come from distant lands to engage in this worship today, this gives me great joy. If they understand the actual meaning of this puja, then that will ma ke me even more happy.
parechi tomara ghare
tumi ta thakura tomara kukura
baliya janaha more
bandhiya nikate amare palibe
rahiba tomara dvare
pratipa janere asite na diba
rakhiba garera pare
tava nija-jana prasada seviya
ucchista rakhibe jaha
amara bhojana parama anande
prati dine habe taha
basiya suiya tomara carana
cintiba satata ami
nacite nacite nikate jaiba
jakhana dakibe tumi
nijere posana kabhu na bhaviba
rahiba bhavera bhare
bhakativinoda tomare palaka
baliya varana kare
I have surrendered everything to your lotus feet and have fallen at your door. I ask you to recognize that I am your dog and you are my master.
You will tie me up nearby and take care of me. I will remain near your doorway and chase away thieves and other dangerous people, keeping them on the other side of the moat.
Every day, I will joyfully eat only the leftovers of the devotees who have eaten your prasada.
Whether sitting or lying down, I will only think of your lotus feet.
Whenever you call, I will go dancing toward you.
I will never think of my own needs or maintenance, but will remain blissfully in the joy of my feelings for you. Bhaktivinoda officially accepts you as his protector. (Saranagati, 19)
In the Bhagavatam, the Lord said to Uddhava,
kalena nasta pralayeFor this reason, Brahma is the spiritual master of the universe. He is the first person in our disciplic succession. For this reason, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura said that we belong to the Brahma-sampradaya. All the Vaisnava schools will be joined together within the Brahma-sampradaya. So, the original spiritual master of our disciplic succession is Brahma; he is the guru of us all. Narada took instruction from Brahma and Narada instructed Vyasa.
mayadau brahmane prokta
yasyam dharmo mad-atmakah
The divine message of the Vedas was lost in the course of time during the universal dissolution. Then at the very beginning of creation, I instructed these essential teachings about myself of the Bhagavata religion to Brahma.
In the Bhagavatam, in the account of Ajamila, the twelve Mahajanas or spiritual authorities were named by Dharmaraja. They are:
svayambhur naradah sambhuhThe religion meant for all living entities that was taught by the Supreme Lord to Brahma was also taught by all these twelve great authorities. For this reason, it has been given the name Bhagavata-dharma, the religion taught by the Supreme Lord and his devotees.
kumarah kapilo manuh
prahlado janako bhismo
balir vaiyasakir vayam
Brahma, Narada, Siva, the four Kumaras, Kapila, Manu, Prahlada, Janaka, Bhisma, Bali, Sukadeva and Yama himself. (SB 6.3.20)
When Ajamila was on the point of dying, three of the messengers of the God of Death, Yamaraja, came to take him away. However, as Ajamila had accumulated some pious merit in his previous lives, he called out the name of his youngest son, Narayana, at that moment. As he did so, say the Mahajanas, Ajamila began to remember the Lord of Vaikuntha, the original Narayana after whom he had named his son. At that very instant, four Visnudutas or messengers of Lord Visnu, came and stopped the Yamadutas from taking Ajamila off to be judged by Yamaraja.
The Yamadutas said, "Why have you come here? Who are you? We are the servants of the God of Death and we have come for this man. What are you doing here? This Ajamila has spent his entire life in sinful activity and has never atoned for his sins in any way. Such persons are normally taken to Yamaraja`s abode in Samyamani-puri where they are punished. We have come to take him so he can receive what he deserves. We are here on Yamaraja's orders."
The Visnudutas answered, "You do not know the first thing about justice ( dharma). By uttering the name of Narayana, all the sins one has committed over millions of lifetimes are destroyed, what to speak of those committed in this single lifetime. You claim to be the followers of the God of Justice, Yamaraja, but in fact you are lying." And they chased the Yamadutas away.
The Yamadutas then went to their master and complained about the Visnudutas. They said, "How many Gods of Justice are there? And what is dharma?" Yamaraja, however, is a Mahabhagavata and so of course he understood everything that was happening. He answered, "Listen -- dharma, that is religion or justice, is created by the Supreme Lord himself.
dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitamThe Yamadutas then asked, "If none of them know the truth of religion, then who does?"
na vai vidur rsayo napi devah
na siddha-mukhya asura manusyah
kuto nu vidyadhara-caranadayah
Real religious principles are enacted by the Supreme Person himself. Neither the seers, nor the gods, nor the perfected beings, nor the demons, or humans know what they are in truth, what to speak of the Vidyadharas and the Caranas. (SB 6.3.19)
Yamaraja answered, "There are twelve of us who are known as Mahajanas.[These were named above.]
dvadasaite vijanimoThough the Bhagavata-dharma is difficult to understand (durbodha), that does not mean that it cannot be understood at all. Those who practice these religious principles taste the nectar of immortality, but this is not the mundane ambrosia of the demigods in Svarga. It is the nectar of devotional rapture.
dharmam bhagavatam bhatah
guham visuddham durbodham
yam jnatvamrtam asnute
"O my messengers! We twelve know the religious principles set forth by the Supreme Lord. This knowledge is secret, pure and difficult to understand, but those who do taste the nectar of immortality.
The concept of dharma that is being spoken of here is also mentioned in the very beginning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
sa vai pumsam paro dharmoThe word ahaituki means "unmotivated by any selfish desire," or "spontaneous." Apratihata means "impossible to disrupt or bring to an end."
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
Suta Gosvami told Saunaka and the other rsis, "The highest religious principle is that by which causeless and uninterrupted devotion to the Supreme Lord is developed. Such devotion brings true contentment to the soul."
In the invocatory verses to the Srimad Bhagavatam, it is also said,
dharmah projjhita-kaitavo 'tra paramoThere can be no self-deception nor deception of others anywhere in the Bhagavatam. So many activities are going on in the name of religion-- karma, jnana and what have you. None of these can be considered genuine religious activity; they are all, in fact, kinds of deception or cheating. The supreme religion for all living entities is pure devotion to the Supreme Lord. Pure devotion means that neither karma, jnana, nor yoga should be mixed in with it. Pure devotion is the supreme religion. Who then can attain this supreme religious activity? Here it is said, "The essence of this religion can only be understood by those saintly persons who are completely free from enviousness--nirmatsaranam satam." Only such people can know the truths of this religion and only they can practice it properly. Enviousness is a terrible thing. Envy means para-sri-katarata or the inability to tolerate the success of another person, whether in terms of beauty, wealth or any other qualification. One who is unable to tolerate the happiness of another and who finds joy in seeing others suffer cannot be considered a sadhu. Therefore it is said that the saintly are nirmatsara. Such people are eligible to practice this highest religion.
"This Bhagavata Purana completely rejects all religious activities which are materially motivated. It is thus only comprehensible to those saintly persons who are completely free from enviousness."
Mahaprabhu instructed everyone to become free from enviousness. He is the Supreme Lord himself. When Sanatana Gosvami inquired from him about the goal of life and the means to attain it, Mahaprabhu said, "You know everything, but even so you wish to hear from me. So listen." And then he explained to him about the constitutional position of the living entity:
jivera svarupa haya nitya krsna-dasaSo the constitutional position of the living entity is to be Krsna's eternal servant, the marginal energy, and both one and different from the Lord. Similarly, in the story of Ajamila, it is said,
krsna-tatastha sakti bhedabheda-prakasa
By nature, in his essence, the living entity is the eternal servant of Krsna. He is Krsna marginal potency, simultaneously one and different from the Lord.
(CC Madhya 20.108)
etavan eva loke'sminHere, then, the supreme religious activity is identified with the chanting of the Holy Names. Of course, the Bhagavatam has glorified the chanting of the Holy Names in many, many other verses. Karabhajana Rsi said in the Age of Kali, there is really no religious principle other than chanting the Holy Names. We really have no duty other than pure devotional service. As Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Lord himself took on the attitude of a devotee in order to teach us this religious principle. The chanting of the Holy Names in sankirtana is the only religious duty of all living creatures. The Lord said, furthermore, that he had invested this Holy Name with all of his potencies: sarva-sakti name dila kariya vibhaga (CC Antya 20.19)
pumsam dharmah parah smrtah
The supreme religious activity for people in this world is devotional service to the Lord, which is performed through such acts as repeating his divine names.
The Lord is omnipotent, and he has placed all his potencies in his Holy Name. Furthermore, there are no restriction as to when or where one can chant the Holy Name. Mahaprabhu called this the supreme religious activity for all beings. We must all take up the practice of Bhagavata-dharma. This is the only duty which we absolutely must observe. Pure devotional service performed principally through chanting the Holy Names is the supreme religious activity for all living beings.
In the Svetasvatara Upanisad (5.9), the Lord said the following about the jiva, or the soul:
balagra-sata-bhagasyaThe jiva is thus so infinitesimally small that it is beyond human conception. It certainly cannot be seen with the naked eye or through an examination of the beating heart. This is the atma or the soul. Krsna says:
satadha kalpitasya ca
bhago jivah vijneyah
sa canantyaya kalpate
"When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of these parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is equal to the dimension of the spirit soul, whose potential is infinite."
aham sarvasya prabhavo"I am the birthplace of all creatures, moving and non-moving. I ordain the duties and work of them all. Scholars who realize this become devoted to me and accept the religious duties that I have ordained, knowing that the Supreme Lord himself is the speaker of the scriptures in which these duties are given."
mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam
I am the source of all things. Everything proceeds from me. The wise who accept this worship me with great feeling. (Gita 10.7)
The Supreme Lord has spoken the Vaisnava religion, therefore we must take it up. This religion alone is our supreme duty. These religious principles were explained by Narada Muni to Vyasadeva and Vyasadeva taught them to Suka, who in turn told them to Pariksit Maharaja. Ugrasrava Suta was in the audience while Suka spoke to Pariksit and he in turn recounted their conversation to Saunaka and the 60,000 sages in Naimisaranya. They all made great efforts to preserve and spread this teaching, so it is now our duty to try to understand it.
We move our hands and feet, we speak--these are the signs of life. Within the living being, there is a tiny spark of consciousness that we call the soul. The Lord himself says in the Gita, "Of subtle things, I am the living being" (suksmanam apy aham jivah, SB 11.16.11). The jiva is so tiny that he cannot be found. This is true for all living beings. And in order to give us the ability to serve him, Mukunda has given us jivas senses. The creator finished making all the creatures -- the animals, birds, insects, trees, crawling things -- that are present on this earth, but still found no satisfaction. But after creating humankind, he felt joy. Why did he feel joy at the creation of humanity? Because the human body has the attribute of brahmavaloka-dhisanam--the instinct to seek out the Supreme Lord. This attribute exists only in the human species and in no other. We humans can take up religious activity and by extension can engage all other creatures in the Lord's service. We can do that by chanting the Holy Names of the Lord aloud -- uccaih sata-gunam bhavet -- the powers of the Holy Name are increased a hundredfold when chanted aloud.
All those creatures that know nothing but eating, sleeping, mating and defending can nevertheless be blessed by hearing the chanting of the Holy Names. If no one blesses them in this way, then who knows how many lifetimes they will have to live in such ignorance? Therefore Mahaprabhu taught,
bharate-bhumite manusya-janma haila jaraMahaprabhu also said,
janma sarthaka kari' kara para-upakara
Whoever has taken a human birth in this land of Bharata should perfect his life and act for the welfare of all beings.
(CC Adi 9.41)
apani acari dharma jivere sikhayaSo first of all, we must put these religious principles into practice. After so doing, we must act for the welfare of all beings. Yogis go into the deep forests to practice performing postures, breathing exercises, meditation, mind control, by which they seek their own personal benefit. They have no concern for what happens or does not happen to others. Mahaprabhu, on the other hand, came to show that through the chanting of the Holy Names, all living beings are benefited. "You are human beings," he says, "you have intelligence. So take up this religion and chant the Holy Names loudly so that all living beings will derive benefit from it. People in the western world have made great progress in science and technology. If such scientific knowledge could bring lasting benefit to the world, then it would be a wonderful thing. Many people in the West have now become devotees of Mahaprabhu. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura once wondered, "When will the day come when people from Europe and America would embrace Gaudiya Vaisnavas from Bengal and say, You are our most intimate friends. Come, join us, we will all chant the Holy Names together in sankirtana.'?" May Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's blessings be upon us today. May his prediction be fulfilled. (Cheering and applause)
apani na kaile dharma sikhano na jaya
One can only teach religious principles to the living beings if he puts them into practice himself. If one does not practice, he cannot teach it to others.
(CC Adi 3.21)
Whether in the West or in the East, the living soul is not different. All souls are the same. Their supreme master is Krsna--aham sarvasya prabhavah. All creatures have their origin in Krsna. So if we simply perform the sacrifice of chanting the Holy Names, the sankirtana-yajna, by offering ourselves as the oblation, then the entire world will be benefited. We are not trying to make ourselves out to be some kind of great guru. My Srila Prabhupada is the spiritual master of the universe. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is my guru. That is why I say that I am nothing more than their dog. Please remember this. I am nothing more than the dog of dogs. Srila Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the entire disciplic succession -- these are my masters. I am simply their dog, nothing more. I only pray to all of you that I may become their dog and bark repeatedly, "Chant the Holy Names, just chant the Holy Names." Please fulfill my prayer.
Never think that the Holy Name is some ordinary sound. The Supreme Lord has placed all his powers in the Holy Name. So we pray that we may engage in welfare work for all humanity, that all souls may make the effort to go to the transcendental abode of the Lord. The nature of the borderline energy, the tatastha-sakti, is that it can go in either direction. However, the living beings who belong to this energy are constantly attacked by temptation. They see the "marketplace of pleasures" and are distracted from their purpose, ultimately falling into a hellish existence. This is the illusory nature of this world, and everyone is immersed and entangled in this illusion. Try to understand this yourselves and try to make others understand. It is our duty to make this effort. Let everyone know this truth. This is the meaning of Vyasa-puja.
There are a number of groups of five, or pancakas, of which the Vyasa-pancaka and the Guru-pancaka are two.
There is the Krsna-pancaka: Krsna, Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and
the Gaura-pancaka consists of Sri Krsna Caitanya, Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara and Srivasa and the rest of the devotees;
the Vyasa-pancaka: Vyasadeva, Jaimini (of the Samaveda), Paila (Rgveda), Vaisampayana (Yajurveda), and Sumantu Muni (Atharva-veda);
the Vaiyasaki-pancaka: Sukadeva, Madhvacarya, Ramanujacarya, Nimbaditya, and Visnusvami;
the Sanakadi-pancaka: Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Visvaksena;
and the Guru-pancaka: the diksa-guru, the parama-guru (the guru's guru), the paratpara-guru (his guru), the paramesthi guru (his guru) and Brahma, the jagad-guru, the founder of the disciplic succession. This is the Guru-parampara-pancaka.
On this day, worship of the Vyasa-pancaka and the Guru-pancaka is ordained. I am no longer able to perform ritual worship or to speak properly. So I simply offer my respectful obeisances to all. I pay my obeisances and ask everyone to give me their blessings. I pray that all my spiritual masters give me their blessings that they accept me as their pet dog and allow me to sing their glories, that I may fulfill the purpose of my life as their dog, that I may give oblations in the fire of the sacrifice of the Holy Name.
(Cheers and shouts of jay! Jay!)
Today all of you chanted the Holy Name, you glorified Srila Vyasadeva and Prabhupada and all the gurus of the disciplic succession. You filled my heart with joy. I am not posing as a great teacher or guru. I am just the servant of the servant. I ask you to think of me in this way. If you must respect me, then do it because I am their dog. Let the flowers meant for their glorification fall on me. That is what I ask of you.
So this is my request: Everyone, please learn this Bhagavata-dharma. You have all come here to learn Mahaprabhu's religion. Why did Mahaprabhu repeatedly say to chant the Holy Names? From the chanting of the Holy Name, you will attain love for Krsna.
What is the meaning of prema? Prema means an intense feeling of love for the Lord. If we don't engage in the Lord's service, how will we be able to develop such feelings? We must think of what we can do so that all living beings within this world will be saved.
bharata-bhumite haila manusya janma jaraThe best welfare activity we could possibly engage in is to preach the Holy Name and love for Krsna. This is Mahaprabhu's heart's desire. May our only purpose in life be to practice and preach this religion throughout the world, right up until the time of our death.
janma sarthaka kari kara para-upakara
Anyone who has taken a human birth in this land of Bharatavarsa should perfect his life and engage in welfare activities on behalf of others. (CC 1.9.41)
In the Gita-mahatmya, it is said,
ekam sastram devaki-putra-gitamThere is only one scripture -- that which was sung by the Son of Devaki -- that is the Gita. There is only God -- he who is known as the Son of Devaki. There is only one hymn to be sung -- the names of the Son of Devaki. There is only one duty -- the service of this one supreme God. Gita or the Bhagavata, which contains the essence of the Gita. It was also written by Vyasadeva. Our only worshipable deity is Krsna. He is the ultimate object of worship for the entire universe, for all the infinite universes. This is not negotiable. Krsna himself says it, so we cannot argue with him.
eko devo devaki-putra eva
eko mantras tasya namani yani
karmapy ekam tasya devasya seva
Think about it. Vyasadeva was invested with the Lord's potencies. He is a saktyavesa avatara. The Lord manifested as Vyasadeva and wrote down the Gita and there he said:
sarvasya caham hrdi sannivistoThe Lord appeared as Vyasadeva and compiled the Vedic literature. The Lord said, "I am the knower of the Veda. I know the secrets of the Vedic literature." In the Bhagavatam also, the Lord says: kim vidhatte kim acaste kim anudya vikalpayet -- Only I know what has been established in the Vedic literature and what has subsequently been superseded." (SB 11.21.42) Only the Supreme Lord knows the secret heart of the Vedas and their corollary literatures, and only he can reveal them. Thus in the Gita he said to Arjuna, "You are my most intimate friend and devotee. Therefore I will give you the most confidential instruction in spiritual life." The confidential instruction (guhya) is knowledge of Brahman, the more confidential instruction (guhyatara) is of Paramatman, and the most confidential knowledge (guhyatama) is that of Bhagavan and devotion to him.
mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca
vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham
I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas I am to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.
man-mana bhava mad-bhaktoKeep your mind always fixed on Krsna. May that be the only thing that we think about: how can we keep the instructions that Krsna has given us in the Gita and Bhagavatam.
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo'si me
"Always think of me, become my devotee. Worship me and offer your obeisances to me."
Be my devotee. Why doesn't he say to become a devotee of some other god? If you do so, you may go far, but you will never reach Goloka Vrndavana. Krsna is the Lord of Goloka. If we worship some other god, we will not be able to reach Krsna, the Moon of Vrndavana, Golokanatha. We must therefore take these things into consideration.
Worship me and pay your obeisances to me. And in turn, I promise you that you will come to me.
Then the Lord says,
sarva-dharman parityajyaThe Lord had previously stated he comes to this world to establish dharma (dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge) and now he is telling us to abandon all religiosity. What is the meaning of this? For the sake of human society, the Lord has established the system known as varnasrama-dharma -- caturvarnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah. According to the material qualities, people are designated as brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas or sudras. But the problem is, who will decide who is what? So this system is falling apart. Since he has created it, he has the authority to tell his devotees to abandon it. So Visvanatha Cakravarti specifies that sarva-dharman in this verse means varnasrama-dharma.
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
"Give up all religious paths such as the varnasrama-dharma and simply take shelter of me. I shall protect you from all sin. Do not fear."
Mahaprabhu also said the same thing:
nica-jati nahe krsna-bhajane ayogyaStill, this doesn't mean that we can eat food given by just anyone. If maha-prasada is given, we don't need to make any judgement. Prabhupada ate maha-prasada even though it had been touched by a dog, right in front of us. This is the kind of faith and respect he showed for maha-prasada. Other foods we may refuse from people whose behaviour is not up to the standard, but we may accept maha-prasada from any person; this is important to remember.
sat-kula-vipra nahe bhajanera yogya
jei bhaje sei bara, abhakta hina, chara
krsna-bhajane nahi jati-kuladi-vicara
A person born in a low family is not automatically disqualified for Krsna's worship, nor is a high-caste brahmana automatically qualified. One who takes to devotional service is exalted, whereas a non-devotee is always condemned and abominable. Therefore in the discharge of devotional service to the Lord, there is no consideration of caste or family status.
(CC Antya 4.66-67)
Krsna says to surrender "to me alone." If we want to attain Goloka Vrndavana, we must surrender to him alone. Therefore, Mahaprabhu said to make an oblation of our selves in the fire of the sacrifice of the Holy Name. And we must preach while practicing this religious principle. Sanatana Gosvami said to Haridasa Thakura: "You do both, practicing and preaching" -- acara pracara name kara dui karya. Haridasa Thakura used to chant three lakhs of Names every day. That is not possible for all of us. Srila Prabhupada took a vow to chant 100 billion Names or three lakhs a day for a period of nearly ten years. We may start by chanting only a granthi or four rounds a day, but gradually we should build up to a lakh a day.
Both men and women have the duty of chanting the Holy Names. This is the genuine religion of mankind -- devotional service with chanting of the Holy Names as its principle aspect. We do not say that this is some sectarian idea. Vyasadeva is the writer of all the Vedic literature and he himself gives this instruction. His instructions are to be followed by everyone without exception. Because this is the essential instruction of all the scriptures, therefore everyone should follow it.
So I have spoken, barked like a dog here for a few moments, saying whatever comes to mind. Not only must we chant the Holy Names, but we must think of giving happiness to Krsna. I have grown old and my memory is fading, so please forgive me. All I want to stress is that we should chant constantly and that we should chant without allowing ourselves to become distracted -- aviksepena satatyam. So discuss amongst yourselves about how the Name and the form of the Lord are one. You have all come to Mahaprabhu's holy abode. So remember also:
adyapiha sei lila kare gora rayaMahaprabhu still performs his pastimes here in his abode. A few most fortunate souls are able to see them. But how can one whose eyes are blinded by the dust of sense attraction ever hope to see this supreme truth?
kono kono bhagyavane dekhibare paya
andhibhuta caksu jara visaya dhulite
ki rupe se para-tattva paibe dekhite
Mahaprabhu is still chanting and dancing here in Navadvipa dhama. Krsna's flute is playing here. Krsna's flute has not yet fallen silent. Yet we cannot hear these divine sounds. Just as we must learn English in order to speak with you, you should try to learn the language of Vraja and Bengal, the language of Mahaprabhu. Then you will be able to understand the true meaning of Mahaprabhu's message.
Srila Bhakti Promode Puri
Goswami Maharaja Page