Glories of the Holy name from Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta Antya-Lila, The past time of Haridas Thakur
By His Grace Gauranga Prabhu
One day Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu approached Haridas Thakur and said that he is in great distress and feeling extremely hopeless and morose because in this Kaliyuga the Yavanas are too many and they are always engaged in killing the cows , eating the flesh of animals, doing Brahmana Himsa, always trying to put down the Brahminical culture ,do not have good behaviors and they lack control over their senses. So Mahaprabhu is telling Haridas Thakur, I do not see any means or method by which these people, who are always engaged in sense gratification can be delivered and he seeks the help of Haridas Thakur. Mahaprabhu is in the state of reflection, contemplation, and also feeling discouragement. This shows that even though Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of God head he requires support , encouragement , inspiration from someone like Haridas Thakur for delivering the souls from this age of Kali because in due course of time all of us in this material world will have ups and downs.
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the person who has actually brought the Harinama Sankirtan. Prataparudra glorifies Harinam Sankirtan that such a Kirtana he has never seen or heard before. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya says this Harinam Sankirtan, the sweet sound vibration is created by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and therefore it is the medicine brought from the spiritual world to deliver the souls of this age. And Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu himself is feeling a lack of confidence by seeing the number of potential patients in this age of Kali. This can be explained as follows. When sometimes patients are too many even the Doctors will become hopeless thinking too many people to take care of, and how to take care off and will the medicine actually work. And therefore, the main principle here is that nobody can practice Krishna consciousness in solitude or in isolation thinking that he does not need anybody and can take care of himself on his own. But no, everybody requires association of devotees, everybody requires the presence of those who can encourage them and inspire them on the onward journey of Krishna Consciousness. So, if we want a sustainable Krishna conscious life, then we have to depend on the association of devotees. And one of main function of the association of devotee is to encourage each other, inspire each other to practice Krishna consciousness and let each other know this process will work and solutions are there within the chanting of the holy names.
Haridas Thakur at this point of time plays the role of a devotee and offering his Seva for encouraging the Lord. This is the most important role of a devotee in devotee association . Whatever state of Bhakti are we in or whatever state of challenges and difficulties we may be go through in our life in the practice of Krishna consciousness, it is very important duty of every devotee to encourage other devotees in their onward journey. We should speak and share our advice in such a way which will be encouraging the devotees not discouraging them. Instead if you are going to say to a devotee you have this problem and there is no hope for you then that person will become discouraged in their practice of Krishna Consciousness. And therefore, the sangha of devotees is meant to encourage and not to discourage. And therefore, Haridas Thakur , a dedicated servant of the Lord at this point says to the Lord, do not be in anxiety my Lord, in fact I see very soon none of the Yavanas will be in this material existence they will be liberated so please don’t feel sad at heart.
In one of the purports Srila Prabupada beautifully describes the attitude and character of a dedicated servant. His first response to his master will be to give encouragement to him, relieving him from worry and anxiety by taking care of the situation himself and making sure the problem is sorted out or resolved soon. He will be always willing and open to idea of executing his master’s order. The role of an ideal servant will be, he borrows the anxiety of his master and taking the anxiety of the master on to his head, he completely absorbs himself in meditation on that anxiety and by absorbing himself he forgets his own anxiety by doing seva. That is the difference between Bhakti yoga and other yoga path like Karma yoga, Jnana yoga or in Ashtanga yoga. And therefore, one of the most important aspect of a servant is, he should act, speak words of encouragement and communicate in such a way which will be encouraging and inspiring and therefore Haridas Thakur is willing to take that responsibility of validating the power and glory of the holy name on the behalf of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
So Haridas Thakur is telling Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu that Holy name will be be chanted by the pure devotees of the Lord. The chanting of the holy name is so powerful even if the Yavanas chant the name of the Lord “RAMA”,in a derogatory way like “HARAM” still he will be benefited. There was one Mleccha who was attacked by a wild boar and while he was dying in great anger, he cursed the boar HARAM,HARAM. But the word had “HAR” and “RAM” and therefore that Mleccha got Mukti or liberation. So as the story of Ajamila in Srimad Bhagavatam who got liberation. Ajamila has 4 disqualifications.
1) He was chanting the Holy names of the Lord with a feeling only at the time of death not regularly
2) He was calling out his son Narayana, Not the Lord Narayana
3) He was not following any regulative principles till his death
4) He has never heard about the various glorious of the holy name and in fact he was leading a very sinful life.
For some people in this material world Ajamila is their favorite Shastric character because they like to spend their whole life in sense gratification and also get liberated in the end. Ajamila was a special case, in spite of all his disqualifications, still he got benefitted by calling out Narayana but we cannot think that we will also have the same privilege at the time of death. So, we have to be very careful. So instead of calling somebody if we call the Lord directly how much more benefit we will get when we are totally focused, inspired and diligently practice the process of Krishna consciousness. So, Srimad Bhagavatam is saying that get in to practice of calling the Lord directly every single day.
Varaha Deva in Varaha purana gives a beautiful description where he is mentioning what will happen at the time of death for a devotee. At the time of death generally, a person may not have all the faculties functioning properly, may be he will be in a Coma or in some delirious condition and may not be in a position to chant due to various tubes situated on his mouth, nose and due to other things going on through his body, and even not able to respond if someone is shaking him up or not even aware that his loved ones are standing nearby. He will be totally in a helpless and motionless stage like a piece of wood or like a stone and totally under the control of his Doctor’s. The exit door at the time of death is really scary and painful not rosy. Krishna always says remember him at the time of death but because you are in this condition you cannot think of Krishna or chant his holy name. By taking the path of Bhakti there is a great risk that you chant the holy name of the Lord whole life and the last 15 days of death you are not able to Chant or move or unable to open your lips and be totally helpless and this can happen all the time. So Lord Varaha Deva is telling Bhoomi Devi, if that devotee had remembered me all his life time and had accepted me as the origin of the universe, a person who is unborn and transcendental, then I will remember my devotee at the time of his death, and I personally come and take the devotee soul with me to the spiritual world. So, the advantage of chanting sincerely or diligently on a regular basis is that the attention of the Supreme lord is attracted and the Lord will take us to the spiritual world at the right time.
Haridas Thakur says by hearing the chanting of the holy name, the other moving entities are definitely responding. When you chant the Holy name, it appears that the trees , are not responding. But when you go and shout the holy name in the middle of forest you only hear the echo. So Haridas Thakur is saying My Lord, what if trees are chanting back by this echo. The echo is their Kirtan. So therefore, we should never underestimate the power of holy names. They have the power to transform and churn the heart of trees which have the lowest consciousness, so what to speak of human beings. When the holy name is chanted, it resounds in the universe, and at that time the entire world chants the holy name, even those moving and non-moving beings also start chanting and responding to holy name in great ecstasy and thus the entire planet can be delivered.
The Lord have forgotten the power of what he has brought and shared with the entire world. So Haridas Thakur says to the Lord don’t be in anxiety about the holy name’s ability to deliver the conditioned souls in the form of Mlecchas and the Lord should give up his anxiety. The Lord is convinced by the reassurance of his devotees’ words and feels great ecstasy by describing the glories of his devotees and among the devotees of Lord Caitanya Haridas Thakur is considered as Guna Shresta, a person very dear to Mahaprabhu. This shows that the holy name is actually more potent and powerful tool and if you are sincerely chanting of holy name throughout your entire life even though we may not be in capable position at the time of death still Krishna will reciprocate and compensate for that debellated condition by remembering all those moments where we have chanted sincerely and as a reciprocation for our sincere chanting of our entire life Krishna will compensate at the time of death even if there are many discrepancies and take us. Therefore, the chanting of the holy name is the safest insurance, most dependable and reliable insurance which we can invest in for future security of our soul is concerned. And secondly no matter however advance we might be in each one of us requires the association of devotees who can actually reveal to us the various solutions to our problems which we are facing although we ourselves may be the original profounder of that solution. A doctor even when he gets a heart attack needs another doctor to save him. Therefore, devotees should never think that they can practice Krishna consciousness stand alone without any support from anything or anybody. That feeling may come when things are going well but when things are not going so well everybody requires the support of another human being and that in the context of Krishna conscious association is called as Vaishnava Sanga. Like when Mahaprabhu is in the state of hopelessness and helplessness had Haridas Thakur to share his heart with and Haridas Thakur could reciprocate with Mahaprabu by revealing the glories of the holy name. The Mahamantra was inaugurated by MahaPrabu only, but still he needs to hear from other. So many times, we may intellectually know the solution to some things but we won’t get the power to implement it and reassured till we hear it from somebody else. So never underestimate the presence and association of a devotee, and do not judge another devotee based on the fact that that person may be new to Krishna conscious or younger in age or whatever. The Lord has made this arrangement such a way that, when we hear from a third party with the mood of humility that medicine has its effect. So, hearing from somebody else indicates our humility and when we express that state, then only we get empowered and able to apply this process in our life’s. That is why we need to understand two most important lessons from the pastime of Haridas Thakur and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Brief conversation is the Holy name is the best investment and each one of us needs intimate association with devotees who can intervene in our life when we are going to episodes of intermittent doubts and when our faith is shaking and we are losing the confidence about the efficacy of the process so we need somebody to reassure us and keep us going on in this path.
These are the some of the question’s devotees have when they walk in the path of Krishna Consciousness.
1) When we try to encourage a person to become Krishna consciousness and feel they are not being encouraged then what should a devotee do?
Before you begin to encourage a person, you must first evaluate yourself. Are you the best person to encourage them? Sometimes we proactively take the responsibility of encouraging some one before that person asking us making them more irritated. They even think why do we feel they are having a problem and trying to encourage them. If that person does not want to be encouraged by us, then we cannot do anything. Sometimes it has an opposite effect. Here Mahaprabhu is telling Haridas Thakur I am feeling discouraged, so you please help me. So the first thing to note here is that person should be willing and wanting to encouraged by you, if that is the case then you try your best and still you fail then you can tell that person I have tried may be you should refer to somebody also for a solution and leave it up to the person.
2) Often time we get motivation from temple president and other senior devotees reminding ourselves the importance of chanting of holy names, but that inertia which we had before to chant stops sometimes, due to various reasons and stop us from moving forward in the path of Krishna consciousness. In that case what should a devotee do ?
The thing that works most in Kaliyuga is peer association and association with devotees. Once in a week people can gather at the temple and do chanting, kirtans and other devotional things that keeps some inspiration going. Also, there are various Japa Groups, in your city or outside your city where devotees can explore where all of them join together to chant the holy names of the Lord early in the morning during Brahma Muhurta, a very auspicious time. Basically, bottom line is you need the association. What happens in association is not everybody is in a bad shape together. When you are feeling morose someone will be feeling enthusiastic and when you are enthusiastic someone will be feeling morose, but ultimately you get the opportunity to help each other that is why association is described as the most important. In previous yugas people had sufficient strength alone, so they could do their practice of Sadhana in solitude many years without feeling any ups and downs. But in Kaliyuga the nature is we tend to go up and down. Those who are in the temple for many years ,they always have an advantage to practice Krishna consciousness perfectly, but when you are an individual, in stand-alone homes there is a need to create a methodology by which you can manage to inspire each other and keep going with all those challenges which keep happening. So, we need that sanga or the support, so we always have a hope that this is the right path and this process will succeed. This is the bottom line.
3) How do we encourage someone to move in a right direction when they have taken the wrong path in the past?
All of us have taken a wrong path that is why we all are in this material world. So, there is absolutely no doubt about the fact that none of us can claim to be on the right path. So, in that sense we are on the same page. We should know that to progress on a journey we need patience , tolerance and forgiveness. Without the ability to forgive we cannot sustain relationships and therefore if someone has done something wrong in the past, we should forgive them and encourage them to continue on the journey and somehow get transformed. So, the association supports their journey. It is like family with children. The child makes a mistake, you help them to correct their mistakes, you give support to them, and help them and guide them. So, we have to be in that parental mood. Then the transformation of heart will happen.
4) It is very hard for a shy person to ask for help due to some societal pressure, then how can one handle this situation?
When it is hard for a shy person to ask for help, then it becomes extremely difficult for the devotees to extend help. Therefore, it is very important to understand that ultimately, we are not Paramatma we are Jivatma ONLY. And being a Jivatma it is not possible to understand someone’s heart and mind without them expressing it. Therefore, it is very important for us to create a society culture where people feel confident that if I express myself, to someone whom I trust I will get practical and useful solution and whatever I express should be kept as confidential by the person whom I share my problems. So therefore, one of the most important requirements of devotee care to be implemented in ISKCON is, that we have to increase the level of confidentiality. For example, what gives a patient confidence to go to a Doctor is he has that trust that the Doctor will keep his medical history confidential. Same way if a devotee goes to a senior person and expresses his issue or problem the devotee has 100 percent faith that my issue will be handled maturely, sensitively and confidentially, then the devotee will automatically feel confident and speak. But if a devotee has a doubt that whatever he shares will become congregational news then that person will not have the guts to go and express anything. This is the cause of the origin of shyness to ask for help. If you are feeling societal pressure then try reading Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, for every problem we face in our life, in some of the past times solutions do exist. Another need for ISKCON community is study Srila Prabupad’s books very thoroughly and deeply. Unless we do that, nothing will happen. So, it is very important for us to follow this particular aspect properly. Also, there are some courses created specifically with the intension to provide all Grihastha’s devotees around the world a facility where they can login in and participate in various courses and get educated in the Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya-caritamrita in a systematic manner ( http://www.iskconcourses.com/www.iscock courses.com). So, the first best solutions are, you are able to go and get solution from a devotee who is mature and if that is not an option then the second option is to approach the shastras, the Bhakti Vedanta purports and try to seek solutions in that purport. But that is only possible when you have studied those books very thoroughly, sincerely in an organized manner with a feeling in your heart so you know for a particular problem which section in Srimad Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta have the solution you are looking for. There is a need that lots of improvement should be done in studying Srila Prabupad’s books to understand where in history devotees have gone to certain problems, how did they resolve problems in that situation so when we go through that situations in our life, we can also try those solutions. That is the whole idea of studying the scriptures.
5) Association of devotes in very important and also Krishna says we have to travel within ourselves and be in solitary place if we associate more and more do, we get bound more and more to what extent we have to get association ?
Well in this situation it is the perfection. When Krishna says beautifully in the 6th chapter of Bhagavad Gita that one who understands and have that strong conviction that I am the source of everybody, the generator and the operator and the destroyer is considered to be intelligent . Then he can serve me with Bhava. The symptom of Bhava is a devotee engages in speaking about Krishna and discusses about him to other devotees by spending time hearing and chanting the glories of Krishna and experiencing the conviction that Krishna is the original, ultimate operator of things. Therefore, Krishna does not recommend to be in a solitary place. Krishna recommend to be in the association of devotees who can facilitate you and make you remember him by hearing and chanting of his glories.
6) Sometimes our faith gets disturbed when we see God in anxiety and suffering and our mind will say that he may not be really god we are forced to assume that he is god. How do we handle this situation?
Understanding the Bhakti process is very important in this situation because Bhakti process is unique. Typically, people go and worship God and say that God please take care of me. But in Gaudiya Parampara and in Srimad Bhagavatam in tenth canto the concept comes we will take care of God and that is what Vrajavasis did. They are taking care of God and the Lord himself says that I will become more pleased when a devotee is trying to take care of me. That is the whole ideal of being in the influence of Lord’s different rasas. So, here Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s anxiety is part of the LILA only. In fact, the whole reason God has to come down in the material world again within the human society as Caitanya Mahaprabhu is to perform his pastime of experiencing the feelings of Radha Rani in separation of Krishna , so he is experiencing the anxiety as part of the pastime. So, he is God only . Same way Lord Rama is God, then how can God cannot protect his wife Sita Devi from Ravana. And Sita Devi has so much power in her left hand that she could lift the whole Shiva Danush when she was 5-year-old. And that Danush kept in Mithila could not be lifted by biggest kings even Ravana could not lift it which means Sita Devi has more power in her left hand when compared to Ravana’s head. That means if Sita Devi had given one slap to Ravana his 10 heads would have gone flying and it would have finished the Ramayana on the spot in Panchavati itself. And we won’t be able to experience the emotions like, pity for the Lord, when we hear that Sita Devi has been kidnapped and Lord Ram is alone crying in the forest. This arouses feeling in our heart and we will think why did Lord Rama lose Sita Devi, can I do something to help so that the Lord could reconnect with Sita Devi. We also feel that emotion and wanted to do something to assist in Lord Ram’s mission in recovering Sita Devi. In this material world we feel this kind of separation when we leave our smart phone in our house and leave for work and then feel the separation and keep thinking of it whole day. It is perverted reflection of feeling separation. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is trying to create feelings in our heart by experiencing and demonstrating helplessness so we feel like helping and supporting and assisting the Lord in his mission. Mahaprabu also says that I have brought this medicine ,patients are too many I don’t know how will I distribute then we will come forward and say we will assist you in distributing and the Lord successfully enlist our support in his mission. Otherwise if the Lord comes and says I am self-sufficient I don’t need any of you, immediately we will say the Lord is very arrogant, he does not need us so I also don’t need him. Then you mind your own business. So, when Lord expresses supreme self-confidence, we may reject him saying he is overconfident and proud and when he expresses his helplessness, we feel he does not appear to be God. So, what will God do then. He thinks it is better to demonstrate the feeling of helplessness so as many people get attracted to support him, it is going to be for their benefit.
7)Why do people fear god more than they love him? Example some people pray only during troubling times out of fear that God will punish them if they don’t do.
There are 4 levels of motivation.
First is fear: Fear arising out of ignorance. You do something out of desire. Example, if you are a student the lowest motivation is if I don’t study, I will fail in my exam. So, if someone ask why are you studying then they will tell my parents and teachers will chastise me if I fail in my exams so I am forced to study, otherwise I hate to study. So, if someone studying in that mood then that is in the mood of ignorance. That is motivation caused by fear.
Second is in the mood of passion. You are studying with some desire, so that you will get good marks and get a good job in future and then can make money and become famous.
Third is due to Duty. My parents are investing so much for my studies so it is my duty to study at this age
Fourth level is motivation due to love. I am studying because Krishna has given me the intelligence, energy and all the facilities and if I study well, I get good marks and will do well in my life and I can serve Krishna better and make Krishna proud.
So, the motivation due to fear is due to Tamoguna, motivation due to desires or passion is due to Rajoguna, motivation due to duty is Satvaguna and motivation out of love is due to Shuddha sattva stage. So naturally people who are in Shuddha sattva sage are much less. Majority of people are in Tamoguna and Rajoguna category only. That how the population demographic is. So, more people fear God than love God.
8)What if people feel less courageous after you try to encourage them. Should we continue our effort to continue to encourage them?
If we are not able to encourage them even though we tried our best, then the best way is to connect that person to another source or another method or group who can try to intervene and help that person. When Mother Earth was overrun by demoniac forces, she approached Brahma ji for help but Lord Brahma did not take that responsibility to himself to try to solve Mother Earth’s anxiety, instead he took all the Demigods with him including Lord Shiva and went to ocean of milk and started to pray to Lord Vishnu. This is another important requirement of a leader, he should just not know how to solve the problem, he should also know which problem which he cannot solve. So, an important aspect of the leadership is the ability not to take issues and problem which we are not confident about resolving. This is also a sign of humility. To express, experience and accept the fact that I can’t handle this situation. So, therefore if you feel that even after you tried to encourage someone, they still feel less courageous, you should not try to fight forcibly feeling the sense of failure that you tried and they did not accept so you will try again and go on and smashing them till they agrees. There is no need for that. We can humbly accept the fact that I tried, maybe he is not meant to be encouraged by me.
When Yudhishthira Maharaj was feeling down and morose thinking that he is a demon, and it is due to his ambition for the kingdom that the Battle of Kurukshetra happened and he is responsible for all the 64 crores of soldiers been killed in the battle. Even though Krishna himself and another incarnation of Krishna Vyasa Deva and all the sages tried to convince Yudhishthira Maharaj telling that you are not responsible, you are just an instrument in the hands of time factor still he could not be convinced and encouraged by all of them put together. Krishna did not like to take it upon him, and he did not say to Yudhishthira Maharaj that I am not going to leave you till you get convinced by me, sit here and I am going to convince you. Krishna realized that it is not his mandate to convince him. He needs to convinced by another person who is Bhishma Pitamaha. So, Krishna took Yudhishthira Maharaj to Bhishma Pitamaha. Krishna did not feel the loss of ego, I tried to convince and you were not convinced and this Bhishma Pitamaha convinced you. Krishna was not in that ego trip. Sometime we may not be the persons who have the capacity to convince that person, maybe it is due to that it requires some mystical reasons to be convinced by someone else. So, we should accept that and move on.
9)How do we handle situations when people make fun of Krishna consciousness? Should we just pray for them and leave quietly?
It depends on the situation. In the early 1970’ s Dev Anand made the film Hare Rama Hare Krishna and there is a famous song in that movie Dum Maro Dum and whole over India people made fun of devotees. So Giriraj Swami was in Chennai at that time. He heard so many people singing this song and he ask a local person there what is the meaning of the song and that person, a Tamilian who did not know Hindi well said you chant Hare Krishna you will be happy all you ghum will go away. So, Giriraj Swami thought it may be a very nice film glorifying Krishna. And he got an opportunity to see this movie in Calcutta. The First scene showed devotees chanting Hare Krishna, he felt so good. Then the second scene showed devotees are smoking gaanja. Then Giriraj Swami realized there is some miscommunication in the translation that happened in Chennai and he came out and complained to Srila Prabupad, that we are trying to do our best to spread Krishna conscious then why people are making fun of us so Srila Prabupad said don’t worry at least they are chanting Hare Krishna and Hare Rama and in the long run people will forget Dum maro Dum and will only remember Hare Krishna and Hare Rama.
In 1974 in the folio there are records of serious correspondences with Srila Prabupad, GBC and with other ISKCON Maharaj’s when an issue was raised in the Indian parliament and in Lok Sabha in 1973 or 1974 whether ISKCON is part of the CIA, is it bonafied. Questions was raised with all the details. That was the branding of ISKCON in 1973- and 1974-75-time frame, when Srila Prabupada was in India. ISKCON was ridiculed in India and Srila Prabupad had hardly 20 Indian disciples that time. Most of his disciples, may be 5000 were from America, Europe and Australia. Then over the period of time thanks to the efforts of HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj, HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj, HH Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj, HH Lokanath Swami Maharaj, HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj and HH Bhanu Swami Maharaj ISKCON was totally revived and transformed and in 1996 during Srila Prabupad’s centennial, the Prime Minister of India, Sri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated the Delhi ISKCON. From the year 1975 till 1996, it was a 20-year journey. President Sri. Shankar Dayal Sharma inaugurated the Juhu ISKCON temple and then our Honorable Prime Minister Sri. Narendra Modi came to Delhi ISKCON to launch the big Geetha event just last year. And this year during the Covid situation, from March 22nd till date ISKCON has been running 77 kitchens in India and had already distributed 45 million plates of prasadam in the last two months. Delhi ISKCON temple have been distributing as many as half a million plate of prasadam daily almost for the past few months. And there is a video which you can see created by the Delhi Government which describes the steps taken to assist the migrants in the long term for food distribution and they are clearly crediting ISKCON for their full support. ISKCON is the mother of NGO in Delhi, and for all the NGO’s who are assisting and it is the main point to connect with major food distribution today. So, these are some of the transformation with ISKCON branding in India. And therefore, it takes time. So, that which is the subject of ridicule and question way back in the 1970’s has changed with the current situation.