Skip to main content

Who is a Vaishnava?

Type Of Talk: 
Tuesday, August 11, 1981
Audio player: 

Who is a Vaishnava?

Shloka 13 se 'yukta vairagya-,'taha to' saubhagya, kirtane j ahar, 'pratistha sambhar,-' tahar sampatti kevala 'kaitava' taha ij adete h-arir vaibhava

Translation : This is the standard of befitting renunciation, and one who realizes this is most fortunate indeed. Everything involved in such a devotee's life represents Lord Hari's personal spiritual opulence as manifest in the world of matter. On the other hand, one who engages in chanting the Lord's name with hopes of enhancing his own material reputation finds that all his activities and paraphernalia represent only the riches of hypocrisy.

Jayapataka Swami : So, here two kinds of situations are discussed. The first is the devotee in the material world who is engaged in the material energy in the service of Krishna. Because Krishna is the all perfect transcendental Lord of all energies both material and spiritual and because he is completely perfect and transcendentally situated when the material energy is engaged in His direct service by devotees that energy becomes spiritualized. So, for someone in the material world engaging everything in the service of Lord Sri Krishna is the perfect way of becoming transcendentally situated. He is known as the yukta-vairagi. As compared to someone in ordinary sense of vairagi, someone who gives up the material energy, so some kinds of transcendentalists are giving up this material energy as being illusion, as being maya, and they are simply renouncing material energy without utilizing this material energy at all. Just like sometimes when a new man joins the Krishna Consciousness movement, he gives away all of his possessions to his relatives, friends and comes without anything and says,"Now I am free from all this burden." But Rupa Goswami, one of the direct disciples of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, has personally shown what is the standard by utilizing 50% of all his possessions in the service of Krishna and different vaishnavas, giving 25% to his family members and keeping 25% for emergency.

In Krishna Consciousness, at least 50% is to always be spent on Krishna conscious activities and preaching the holy name. And utility is the principle. So something may be kept by householders for emergency sake. This is also not considered to be a material attachment. When such possessions are used actually in the service of Krishna, work for practical purposes in devotional service, so, there is a yukta vairagya. So, even though it appears that such a person is having so many material possessions, because he utilizes all material possessions in Krishna’s service… Therefore actually he is a Vairagi. Even though he is there with material energy, he is not using the material energy for his own sense gratification. So where is the question of contamination? All of the material energy, it is already spiritualized. So, when something is used to increase the service of Krishna, how can it be considered to be maya or impediment ? Only when something is used for sense gratification for purposes which are obstructive to devotional service, then such an activity is considered to be illusory or an obstacle for devotional service. So, one who uses this energy of Krishna, even though it may be material energy, but uses in the service of Krishna, he is already considered to be liberated. But he is chanting kirtan to get some personal name and fame, he is doing some type of preaching to establish himself in a material, enhanced position. Just like there are so many professional kirtan groups, but sometimes people, they have their desire to make their own name and fame and they go out and do some propaganda, which appears to be Harinama Preaching, but actually it is all personally motivated.

So here Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, he says that such a kirtan which is based upon the motivation of improving one’s own material position in terms of followers, wealth or sense gratification that there apparent spiritual opulence or possessions is nothing but simply cheating, simply Koitava… by cheating. The very first verses of the Srimad Bhagavatam mention that this bhagvat dharma, or process of Krishna consciousness is not a Koitava dharma. It is not a cheating religious process. This is the pure process which requires that one gives his mind words and deeds in the service of Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. So here someone is giving apparently giving their body apparently their words but actually their intention, their mentality is to enjoy– not to actually give service. Therefore this practice in such a case is known to be cheating. Someone else, who is actually in heart is devotee having material possession but he is using material possessions in the service of Krishna, because his mind, words and his deeds all directed towards Krishna. Even though apparently they appear to be material type of activities, he is considered to be Yukta vairagi. He is considered to be liberated not the person who is externally showing that he is a great devotee but internally polluted and filled with material dirt. He is simply cheating himself and others and he should be rejected. And his association should be avoided, until such time as he is purified.
So it goes on to text 14 14) visaya mum-uksu, bhoger bubhuksu, du'ye tyaj o mana, dui 'avaisnava' 'krsner sambandha,' aprakrta ska-ndha, kabhu nahe taha jader sambhava Translation : O mind, please reject the company of two types of persons, those desiring impersonal liberation from the material world and those who desire to enjoy the pleasure of material sense objects. Both of these are equally non devotees. The things that are used in relation to Lord Krishna are objects belonging directly to the transcendental realm and thus having nothing to do with matter they cannot be either owned or forsaken by persons interested in mundane enjoyment or renunciation,

So, visaya mum-uksu bhoger bubhuksu du'ye tyaj o mana, dui 'avaisnava' - Oh my dear mind, I request you to give up the association of all non-devotees, my dear mind, the first non-devotee is one who wants liberation from material enjoyment. The second non devotee is one who wants to enjoy this material world. Both of them are not connected with Krishna. Therefore you should give up their association as undesirable.
Krishna, the transcendental service in relationship to Lord Sri Krishna is advanced, is a truly spiritual… is a part of the spiritual existence and has nothing to do with this material world of birth and death. Simply be attached to that transcendental relationship with Krishna, avoiding all types of non devotees such as desire for liberation or the desire for enjoying this material world. So the mind should know what is favorable for devotional service and what is unfavorable for devotional service. Srila Rupa Goswamipada has instructed us to accept whatever is favorable for devotional service and to reject whatever is unfavorable. The enjoyment of this material world is very attractive for all the conditioned souls. Everyone is hankering for increasing personal wealth, personal position and sense gratification. It is very difficult to overcome these attachments. Sometimes a person become frustrated trying to enjoy this material desires and he desires to become liberated from birth and death, to merge into existence of the Lord. But simple desire for liberation is not indicative of a direct relationship with Krishna. Simply to desire to be liberated from material pain and pleasure is simply a negation of this material world and also is an impediment for one who wants to advance to the highest perfection of life. One who wants to achieve the highest perfection of pure Krishna consciousness, personal service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna in the spiritual sky, the simple desire for ending the person’s life of repeated birth and death in this material world is rather an impediment, because it is distracting us from the higher goal. Even one gets out of prison, again due to misplaced activities, he may be put back into the prison house. But if one is already trained to act in normal way in society, then the chances of going back into the prison house are practically nil. But if one is already trained to act in transcendental consciousness as an associate of the Lord, as a servitor of Lord Sri Krishna, then there is no danger… that such a person will never fall back into the material world. Krishna assures nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ samsiddhim paramām gatah. One who is situated in His devotional service surrendered at His lotus feet never has to fear falling down again for that spiritual position back to the material world.
So the request is given to the mind to recognize the true enemies of devotional service. Desire for liberation and desire for material enjoyment both should be given up, both should be avoided and one should rather take association with the pure devotees. So in relation to the mind this is the way we should think. We should give up thoughts for desire for liberation and sense gratification and we should be thinking how to engage our senses and relation to Krishna, knowing that such devotional service, even though it's employing his mind and his body, which are apparent material fathers is actually transcendental, because it is in connection with Krishna, it is in relation with Krishna. Parents giving up material activity and going to sacred place to perform some secluded yoga practice is actually nothing to do but spiritual activity, which is opposite to material activity and it is simply leading one on a very difficult path to an incomplete form of liberation. To actually complete liberation is very easy for devotee. Simply by engaging his mind serving in Krishna’s service, in the sankirtan movement, congregational chanting of the holy names of Lord immediately one is elevated to the transcendental platform. So, one should not have any doubt that these activities of Krishna consciousness of chanting, hearing, remembering, and serving have anything to do with this material world. They have nothing to do, not even a touch with this material world. One is completely under the shelter of the transcendental potency when one is performing these spiritual activities. His Divine Grace Srila A.C.Bhaktivedant Swami Prabhupada has taken up the essence of these instructions of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Therefore, all over the world he has engaged the energy apparent material energy in the form of automobiles, Jets, PE equipment, printing presses and so many others… computers for our Diorama exhibition.

Everything conceivable has been utilized in the service of Krishna, using the same basic principle that when something is utilized in the direct service of the Lord by helping the people to come back to the original constitutional position in pure God consciousness; that such utilization of energy is not contaminated in the womb of material pollution, but it is completely transcendental. So those who may criticize or may not understand why a sadhu or someone in the renounced order of life should utilize material things does not know the secret of the spiritual science. Real spiritual activity is not to give up material things that is false renunciation. Real renunciation, real Krishna consciousness, real God consciousness is to utilize all types of material things for expanding the sankirtan or glorification of the Lord. And this has been perfectly exhibited in the life and activity of His Divine Grace Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder Acharya of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness. Those who criticize and do not understand are doing only out of ignorance of the actual science of pure devotional service of Bhakti yoga.

Verse 15
'mayavadi j ana,' krsnetara mana, mukta abhimane se ninde vaisnava vaisnaver das, tava bhakti as, - keno va dakicho nirjana ahava 15) Translation : An impersonal philospher is opposed to thinking of Krsna as an object of devotion, and thus being puffed up with the false pride of imaginary liberation he dares to criticize the true devotees of the Lord. 0 mind, you are the servant of the Vaisnavas, and you should always hope for attaining devotion. Why then do you make such a loud commotion by calling to me and trying to prove the supposed supremacy of your practice of solitary worship? So, 'mayavadi j ana,' krsnetara mana - The Mayavadis, those persons who have attached to liberation from material birth and death who are impersonalists their mentality is completely separate from Krishna, they have no direct relationship with Krishna and because of their false pride thinking themselves to be liberated, but actually they have missed the real point of what is real liberation. These very proud mayavadis criticize the devotees, criticize the pure Vaishnavas, in their ignorance. The servant of vaishnavas, the pure devotees of the Lord, are always desiring pure devotion of bhakti. So, why will they ever call one…. So why will I call others to such a solitary worship of Lord Sri Krishna? So, the impersonalist… it is a very obvious illusion to the Vaishnavas. Anyone who considers what this material world– which is birth, death, old age and disease– is, what the nature of this material body and mind is, that this material body and mind are simply temporary coverings for the eternal spirit soul, And How was suffering in this material world, due to misidentification, thinking himself to be the body and mind. When he comes to that understanding, he will naturally want to be free from the bondage to that attachment to body and mind. There is a natural conclusion to anyone who is a thoughtful person. This is the proof that without the shelter of the bona fide spiritual mater, it is not possible to however achieve complete realization.

The limit one can achieve through mental speculation is to come to the conclusion as this is material world is a place of material suffering, and we shall immediately get out of this Illusory bondage, but what is the real spiritual truth ? What is the real spiritual existence that we are hankering for? It is waiting to be achieved? That how can we achieve mental speculation. That is not possible. So when a person is very proud of having come to conclusion this material world is false and thus he thinks himself to be liberated. When he sees the Vaishnava, pure devotees of the Lord are riding in their cars are doing preaching work, are building temple and so many other activities. Then they want to criticize, Oh, these are all material activities, these are motivated by material desire. But this is not a fact. (Altar Opens) GM : Jai Sri Jagannath Subhadra, Jai Radha Govindaji! Such a devotee, has no business, is desiring anything but devotional service, that is his only business, and what is his position…. that he is the servant of other devotees of the Lord. A Vaishnava does not say that I am the servant of Krishna, I do not need any guru, I do not need to serve any other devotee, I am directly the servant of Vishnu or Krishna. This is not what a Vaishnava says, this is what someone who is falsely proud says because, because a Vaishnava knows not only Krishna but all those potencies, personalities, (22.16) associations, relation to Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all of the transcendental platform and are all worshipable. Therefore a Vaishnava is a servant of a Vaishnava. chadiya vaishnava seva nistara peyeche keba One who has given up the service of the devotees of the Lord. When has such a person ever achieved deliverance? This is what Narottam Das Thakur –a great Acharya in the line of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu– has instructed. In other words, the mentality of a pure devotee of the Lord who is practicing Bhakti yoga is to be always engaged in the service of other devotees. Therefore, the question of being envious of other devotee never enters. The question of desiring a position possessed of another devotee never enters. Rather one's mentality is always to serve the pure devotee, who is one spiritual master and other Vaishnavas. So the question is given to the mind; so why with such a pure devotee ever called someone to go apart from the association of devotees ? In other words, "Mind, why are you trying to call me to leave the association of devotees? Why you are trying to point out critical point and make me loose this association of devotees? Why you are trying to bluff me? As if you are a pure devotee? What would a pure devotee ask anyone to leave the association of other devotee for? So, in a nutshell, the different type of pitfalls that can attack one as one is advancing in the transcendental science : first, the pitfall of material sense gratification is most fallen in conditional life, then one gives up sense gratification. But simply the dry desire for liberation without having connection with Krishna is also a dangerous tigress that eats our spiritual life; then, after one gives up that desire for liberation and sense gratification, enters into the service of Lord and His devotee. If one, due to immature understanding becomes suddenly involved in implicated in desires for personal improvement in the society of devotees.

Therefore in a subtle way losing their service attitude and becoming envious and critical unnecessarily of other devotees, then one is driven out of the society of devotee by the power of the uncontrolled mind, and one is drawn into a situation where, by his own false ego, he thinks “Now I am more advanced than the other Vaishnavas. I am chanting by myself. I have my own movement. I have my own private worship.” Therefore I am more advanced than the other Vaishnavas. They are discussing preaching, they are discussing spreading the sankirtan movement, but I am always engaged in thinking of Krishna, therefore I am more advanced. That person is bewildered. Actually, he is cheated by his mind. And due to his false pride he's become absorbed in the mentality of trying to become the best devotee. Srila Prabhupada, Bhaktivedenta Swami Prabhupada – this is another maya– to want to become the best devotee. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the only best devotee, Srimati Radharani is the best devotee, no one can have that position. All we can try is to be a sincere devotee, of other devotees. Best…."Best" idea is material idea. Another competitive mood, trying to compete with Krishna; when entering devotional service, I want to be the best devotee. One should try to do the best service one can to carry out the order of his spiritual master, but one does not, in performing that service, want to pull anyone else down, or want to obstruct anyone else. Nor is he envious of anyone else who is also doing good service. The more, the merrier. The more people are engaged in good service, that is giving more satisfaction to the devotees. He has no desire for exclusive good service. His only desire is that Krishna may be satisfied. And if more people are serving Krishna to his satisfaction, that is giving multiple joy to the sincere devotee. This is known as goshti-ananda– to see the association of devotees, increase and to gain transcendental ecstasy from seeing so many devotees coming and serving the Lord in purified consciousness.

So when the mind becomes bewildered and loses this appreciation for devotional service… How could the mind ever have appreciation for devotional service? One can't have such appreciation. No one would sacrifice that ecstasy, this means that their minds has never yet become purified. If the mind has been purified, and even once tasted that pure ecstasy of devotional service, then it is not possible that you'd easily give up such ecstasy and become absorbed in personal improvement. That means that the mind was not being surrendered; that it was being held back. Externally, the practice was going on, but internally the mind is being withheld. To actually surrendering to Krishna for actually serving Krishna and his devotees.

So controlling the activities and the word is external. That is purifying, but finally we have to face the mind and we have to shake up that mind and we have to purify it by engaging the mind in reading, in hearing and chanting these holy scriptures –the Bhagvatam, Bhagvad-Gita and in serving other devotees and then preaching sankirtan message and engage him in a sankirtan movement. This is how we purify our mind and we should be watching out at every second that our mind has not become overcome by this materialistic associations and mislead us. If we train our mind in this pure attitude of devotional service, the real sankirtan mood, which is exactly following in the footsteps of the gopis, the greatest devotees of Krishna in Vrindavana, the mood of dedicating everything in the service of The Lord and His devotees. Then immediately we can experience this highest ecstasy of pure Krishna consciousness. Shloka (16) kohe nij e 'tyagi,' se na pare kabhu hoite 'vaisnava' hari pa-da chadi', 'nirj anata badi,' labhiya ki phala,'phalgu' se vaibhava

16) Translation : One who falsely gives up things that could actually be used in the Lord's service proudly calls himself a 'renunciate,' but unfortunately he can never become a Vaisnava by such an attitude. Abandoning his servitorship to the lotus feet of Lord Hari, and resigning himself to his solitary home whatever is gained by that exercise can only be the worthless treasure of deception. So one who is such a false, he tells everyone, "I am a great tyagi. I am a great renunciant or he tells himself that I am very renounced, I am very advanced, more absorbed than others. But such a person, he can never be a Vaishnava. He has given up the lotus feet of Sri Hari Krishna. Instead, in his solitary place, He is practicing his so-called spiritual practices, but actually for that he gets no fruit. It is simply the influence of falsity that is all-pervasive in his activities. Thus his activities are completely dissatisfying to the self.
So, Bhaktisiddhanta…… That was a the translation of verse 16. The phalgu vairagi or false renouncer, he has his satisfaction… Actually, that satisfaction is his own mental satisfaction that he is very renounced. He considered to himself to be very renounced that’s his satisfaction. In other words, his own pride is his satisfaction. Look at me, I am able to chant so many rounds, I am able to this particular thing, I am able to point out the defect in others... Therefore, I am better than others. I am very renounced, I am very advanced and by thinking this way, that is his pleasure. But that's false pleasure. What has that got to do with Krishna Consciousness ? What has that to do with serving Krishna and doing what Krishna wants? Satisfying Krishna’s transcendental senses? If Krishna doesn’t want one to leave the association of devotees, if Krishna doesn’t want one to chant unlimited number of Hare Krishna Mahamantras, if Krishna doesn’t want one to point out defects in others; rather, if Krishna wants that one stay in the association of devotees, if Krishna wants that one serve his spiritual master– when Krishna wants that one should spread His glories everywhere, when Krishna wants the conditioned soul to be delivered from birth and death and give him the priceless jewel of pure devotional service– then why would one want to do anything other than what Krishna wants, except for material reasons? And how can anyone get any fruit (other than material fruits)by giving up Krishna, by neglecting the desire of Krishna? So the transcendentalist who wants to achieve pure love for Krishna in this life does not become mislead by such hypocritical… to see poison coming in the form of mental poisons doesn’t become misled by them. But he guards himself. Always.

In His Divine Grace Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s Krishna book, he has described that mother Devaki – the mother of Krishna – was feeling fearful that Krishna might be killed by Kamsa. Being overcome by the yogamaya or internal potency of Krishna, Devaki, the mother of Krishna, forgot that Krishna was the Supreme Personality of Godhead and considered him to be dependent on her as her ordinary son. Therefore she became overwhelmed with fear and prayed to Krishna to take the form as an ordinary baby. She thought if Kamsa sees him with his four arms, holding the wheel, discus, Sudarshan Chakra, the Lotus Flower, the club and the conch shell, symbols of Vishnu, Immediately Kamsa will come and catch him and tried to kill him. Of course, how can a demon like kamsa can kill Krishna who is unconquerable? But due to being overwhelmed by motherly affection, Devaki could make this mistake. So this fear of the devotee, fear of the demon like Kamsa, is described by Srila Prabhupada as actually a transcendental opulence. The devotee should be afraid of the material energy, should be afraid of material illusion, this is the protection which keeps the devotee fixed in the transcendental consciousness. When someone becomes proud, that is the first symptom of fall down.
When a person becomes proud and stops fearing the material energy, then, and starts to think oneself to be advanced in devotional service, then he falls down from the path of devotional service and becomes the victim of maya. So this fear is our protection. The materialistic fears is different kind. The fear of the devotee is actually the fear of this material nature helps one to always be clinging to the Lotus feet of Lord. Thus a devotee is always secured even in that apparent fear, because the shelter of Krishna is never withheld from this pure devotee. But the materialist… Like Kamsa– he was also afraid, he was afraid that at any movement, Krishna would come and kill him, because he was such an envious snake, he was such a terrible demon that he was simply causing destruction and pain to other living entities, therefore at any movement, he knew, he just (inaudible) to be killed. And he was afraid that Krishna would be the agent of his death. Actually in the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna describes that for the non-devotees, he appears as death. No one has ever escaped death. No scientist, no philosopher, no great king, no politician, no social worker– no one has ever escaped death in this material world. Everyone dies, no matter how powerful a demon… they died. So therefore, death appears before them as their God realization. Absolute realization, because they cannot avoid death. So the materialist is always afraid of death. But the devotee, he is not afraid of death, because he knows death is Krishna. To end this material body means to achieve our spiritual body and our eternal service to Krishna. Where is the question of fear of death ? For a devotee’s death is like a blessing. Where does the devotee fear this material nature and all of these subtle illusions, which try to make us forget Krishna? So this dry renunciation is specially the renunciation of the association of the service of the pure devotees is a great danger. Someone who falls under that illusion, he can never be a devotee. So one should be very careful not to give up the association of the Lord’s devotees, not to give up the service, which is approved of by Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; otherwise such type of false renunciation should be considered as simply based on illusion having its result in illusion, and being all-pervaded with illusion and falseness– and nothing else.

Transcriber’s Name : Devdatta Dhananjay Das Date completed : 21 Jan 2014