Are There Different Grades of Pure Devotees?
ASK BVKS | May 1, 2016 |
English; Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
Are there different grades of pure Devotees?
ANSWER by HH Bhakti Vikāśa Swami:
Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommends: ramyā kācid upāsanā vraja-vadhū-vargeṇa yā kalpitā: there is no better process by which to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead than that method adopted by the gopīs.
(Teachings of Queen Kuntī, Chapter 25: Unalloyed Devotion)
Kṛṣṇa Himself said that. You’ll find it in 11th canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
It doesn’t mean that other pure devotees are somehow contaminated. What they are doing is full and perfect.
Just like, for instance, in Vṛndāvana, there are so many cows. So, theirs service to Kṛṣṇa as cows is full and perfect. Kṛṣṇa is Gopāl. He couldn’t be Gopāl unless there are cows to look after.
If all the cows would say: We gonna go on strike! We want promotion. We want to become gopīs.
Then Kṛṣṇa’s līla would be incomplete. Gopī also means they are also looking after cows. So if there are no cows to milk, there is no milk to give to Kṛṣṇa.
What do cows do for Kṛṣṇa that’s full and perfect, as that of gopīs, as one consideration.
(At 1:31 starts a quote which reference couldn’t be found.
HH BVKS gives this translation: “On whatever platform one serves Kṛṣṇa…They think: For me, this is the best!”)
Just like Hanumān. He is a perfect devotee. He doesn’t want to be a gopī. He doesn’t want to serve Kṛṣṇa. Not that he is against Kṛṣṇa, but (rather let us put it another way) he wants to serve Kṛṣṇa as Rāma.
tathāpi mama sarvasvam
“Although He is not different from Lord Nārāyaṇa, lotus-eyed Lord Rāma alone is the be-all and end-all of my life.”
(Sri Premā-bhakti-candrikā, song 2.17)
There is a story in this regard, that Garuḍa was sent by Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā: You go and see Hanumān, and tell him to come to see Me!”
Because Hanumān is ciranjīvī (one of seven immortal living beings who are to remain alive on Earth until the end of the current Kali Yuga), he lives in Kimpuruṣa-loka.
So, Garuḍa came to Hanumān and invited him to come and see Kṛṣṇa.
Hanumān: No! I’m busy serving Rāma.
Garuḍa: I can take you. You can just go and come back. I’m Garuḍa. I can go quicker than anything.
Then Garuḍa went back. This is all connected with Satyabhāmā actually. Then Kṛṣṇa told him to say: Rāma is there. He wants to see you, so come.
So Garuḍa went and said: Hanumān you can go on my wings. I’ll bring you quickly.
Hanumān said: Forget your wings! Rāma is there.
He jumped there quicker than Garuḍa can go.
In the meantime Kṛṣṇa and Satyabhāmā changed to Rāma and Sītā. So, Hanumān was in ecstasy.
Hanumān is fully satisfied. And Rāma wouldn’t be satisfied if (there is no question of it, but…) Hanumān says: Well Rāma…OK, but now I’m gonna go and worship Kṛṣṇa now.
In whatever mode pure devotees serve it is full and perfect.
In this world also, there are pure devotees who are completely free from any vice, and there are those who are on the path.
Pure devotees may be called uttama-adhikārī. Adhikārī means they are qualified to perform devotional service in the topmost way. They may be not reached the topmost platform.
śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
(CC Madhya 19.167)
"One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service."
Uttama bhakti, the highest level of bhakti is one in which one doesn’t cultivate any desire for self aggrandisement on the gross material platform or on the subtle mental platform, or one does not want liberation from this world; but has made the goal of one’s life to serve Kṛṣṇa only. Nothing else! Without any desire, and cultivates that in a favourable manner. Such a person is qualified to serve Kṛṣṇa. That is the topmost level of service, but he may have not been fully situated in it.
So, in one sense, one can even be a beginner and be a pure devotee if one’s goal of life is to serve Kṛṣṇa only.
Of course, there is a great difference between great ācāryas like Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, and ourselves. But they come to bring us up, to close the gap, and to bring us up to the pure platform.
So, there are grades of pure devotees, certainly.
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March 4, 2011 |
Question: I am sure you are aware of one of the great devotees in our ISKCON movement, Srila Aindra Prabhu, recently I have heard some of his recordings, lectures, conversations, and he is always giving emphasis on that one of the biggest problems in ISKCON is that the performance of (nagar) Harinama Sankirtan is on… Expand>
I am sure you are aware of one of the great devotees in our ISKCON movement, Srila Aindra Prabhu, recently I have heard some of his recordings, lectures, conversations, and he is always giving emphasis on that one of the biggest problems in ISKCON is that the performance of (nagar) Harinama Sankirtan is on the decline and that is the reason for many problems in ISKCON. It is now often sidelined and marginalised as a token activity that is performed once in a while. He feels that it is more important than book distribution.
If we look historically at ISKCON, the times when most people joined the movement was when there was ample regular Harinama Sankirtan being performed everyday. Similarly many great saints in our movement were engaged in regular Harinama Sankirtan, such as Vishnujana Swami, etc.
I am also aware that book distribution brhad mrdanga has been promoted as our kirtan by Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur as being equal to Harinama Sankirtan. Book distribution is still emphasised quite nicely in most of our temples in ISKCON.
But often when there was difficulty in ISKCON, lots of kirtan and 24 hour kirtans should be held. Now I see a huge popularity in kirtan in the temples, in Europe and America, regularly large and long kirtans are held, although I still do not see the results fully manifesting yet, I believe it may do soon.
Here are my questions -
Is book distribution a means for replacing (Nagar) Harinama Sankirtan, or that they should both be the main focus of our movement side by side?
Do you feel (Nagar) Harinama Sankirtan should be promoted to regular daily activity, or should it be kept as a weekend activity?
Looking forward to hear your authoritative view on this point.^ Show less
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Question: Srila Prabhupada states, that the ascending approach ends up at the realization of brahman and paramatma but not the Personality of Godhead. Could you please explain how is it that one can realize these two aspects by this process and why does it stop there?… Expand>
Srila Prabhupada states, that the ascending approach ends up at the realization of brahman and paramatma but not the Personality of Godhead.
Could you please explain how is it that one can realize these two aspects by this process and why does it stop there?^ Show less
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Question: I have a problem concerning the purity and contamination of prasadam and consciousness. It began with the fact that after taking prasadam at public programs (Namahattas, Bhakti vrksas, Sunday feasts in the temple) my material desires increase – images not related with Krishna appear in my mind, and in dreams images of militants, horror and erotica appear (in dreams I sometimes was strangled, maltreated, raped etc.). Because of this I felt I had to endeavor more to follow sadhana; concentrate while chanting and reading. I was advised not to take prasadam at public programs because the standards of cleanliness are very low. Thus I visited the programs but did not take prasadam and this seemed to solve the problem.… Expand>
I have a problem concerning the purity and contamination of prasadam and consciousness.
It began with the fact that after taking prasadam at public programs (Namahattas, Bhakti vrksas, Sunday feasts in the temple) my material desires increase – images not related with Krishna appear in my mind, and in dreams images of militants, horror and erotica appear (in dreams I sometimes was strangled, maltreated, raped etc.). Because of this I felt I had to endeavor more to follow sadhana; concentrate while chanting and reading. I was advised not to take prasadam at public programs because the standards of cleanliness are very low. Thus I visited the programs but did not take prasadam and this seemed to solve the problem.
After that at some point I decided to live in the temple to dedicate more time to service, in the hope that it would be easier to practice, but it turned out to be the opposite. After one and a half months my material desires and dreams became very strong (stronger than at home). I returned home and senior devotees (brahmacaris who live outside the temple) sent me caranamrta and sent me prasadam until I recovered. I thought that this was related with aparadhas that I had unconsciously made.
Now I'm in another city, and visiting another temple, and after taking prasadam there – my bad dreams and images again manifest.
I have the understanding that this is because of the low standards of cleanliness of preparation: prasadam not being cooked by brahmanas, distributors hands dirty, dirty clothes, anyone can take a disposable plate with dirty hands or serve themselves prasadam from the vessels, also I myself need to be cleansed. Do these low standards of cleanliness in cooking and distribution of prasadam influence the enthusiasm of devotees in their service?
On the other hand, I see how many devotees live in temples and practice sadhana. And that's why I have a doubt that it could be tricks of my mind not to live in the temple? Or maybe, I should live in the temple, but cook for myself?
Please help me to get an understanding of purity standards. Is external cleanliness important? Can prasadam be contaminated? Can it affect the mind and its thoughts and images? Can it affect the desire to serve Sri Guru, Prabhupada, Krishna and devotees? Maybe, I should concentrate on chanting, do more practical service, distribute books? And maybe I should pay less attention to things that I pay attention to now as they are not so important?
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