Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains how one bears the responsibility for one’s own intentions and actions.
Student: If someone is not pure, and they perform an activity like drug smuggling for Kṛṣṇa, couldn’t that possibly increase their material attachments?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: It is only imitating. If a certain portion of their act is for Kṛṣṇa, they will get the benefit of that, and they will have to suffer for the part that is non-Kṛṣṇa. If they have a mixed attitude, then the result will also be divided. Whatever little tinge is there for Kṛṣṇa, that much will be good, and whatever is for a selfish purpose or any other adverse purpose, one will have to pay for that.
Student: Are there any examples of this?
Student: Why don’t you take the example of those who built a temple by stealing?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: If a smuggler has their own selfish object, then they will have to suffer. For that purpose, that āchārya who utilised thieves to built the Raṅganāth Temple, took them to the Kāverī River and drowned them after finishing the Temple. He did this so that they would not utilise such behaviour for their own purpose. He utilised it for the service of Raṅganāth, but so that they would not go on with that sort of dacoity, their lives were put to an end. “Don’t do it for yourself. I have done it through you; I have utilised you for the Lord. I am the guaranteer there. But afterwards, you will do it for your own purpose. So, I am making the arrangement to end your life.” This dreadful step was taken by the āchārya. To go on exploiting for yourself in the name of Kṛṣṇa will take you to hell. So, it is a very difficult thing.
Student: If the attitude is mixed, is it better to wait until the person is pure before they perform the activity?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: Yes. One should not venture until and unless he is certain that his attitude is pure. But it is difficult to understand and judge one’s own purity. So, general common sense should be applied:
na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaśchid durgatiṁ tāta gachchhati
(Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 6.40)
To the best of our sincerity, we shall think and go on, taking the risk. To the best of our sincerity, consulting some bona fide sādhu (saintly person), and at our own risk, we shall do, and the Lord is there to help us if we are sincere.
na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaśchid durgatiṁ tāta gachchhati
“If you are sincere in your attempt but there is some defect within it, I am there to correct that. It is My responsibility to save you.”
What is dharma? In Manu-saṁhitā, the definition has been given as a recommendation.
vidvadbhiḥ sevitaḥ sadbhir nityam adveṣa-rāgibhiḥ
hṛdayenābhyanujñāto yo dharmas taṁ nibodhata
Vidvadbhiḥ means Vedavidbhiḥ, those who are expert in revealed scriptures. Sevitaḥ sadbhiḥ means what is practiced by the real saints. And who are they? Nityām adveṣa-rāgibhiḥ: those who are indifferent to the loss and the gain of the mundane world. So, what is religion proper? What such saints accept and practise in their life. Hṛdayenābhyanujñātaḥ: your inner heart will also come to approve it with sincerity. With these signs, we shall approach religious realisation: inner approval, approval of the inner heart, that is, sincerity, what is found in the practices of the saints who are indifferent to the loss and gain of this mundane world, and the third thing, or the first thing, is what is accepted by those who are expert, well-versed, in the revealed scriptures. These three things can give us assurance that we are marching in a right way.
Student: Some people hesitate to accept that the end justifies the means because in Kali-yuga there are so many cheaters, so many false and fallen souls who may misuse this philosophy. Some one may say, “If I kill someone for Kṛṣṇa, then such killing is justified because I am doing it for Kṛṣṇa.” People are afraid to accept this and to accept that such a person is factually representing Kṛṣṇa’s interest.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: Yes. One’s justification will come as much as one is concerned with the real truth and not with hallucination. The difficulty is always there, between our relative position and the absolute position. What is our progress from the relative towards the absolute? In the absolute consideration, there are higher relative things. That is arranged by Yogamāyā, and that is high above. But at present, how much is our misunderstanding and how much is truth? That we must conceive. The whole thing may be discussed in this way. What is done must have its basis in the revealed scriptures, it must have backing in the practices of the sādhus, and it must have my heart’s approval. After considering these things, the whole risk is in the approval of the heart. How have you come here? Leaving Christianity, your own creed, you were attracted by Swāmī Mahārāj’s lectures and advice. The responsibility for this is where? The responsibility is with the person who makes the choice. Leaving Christianity or Buddhism, or this, or that, you have come to Swāmī Mahārāj. Why? Who has taken this risk of leaving their own association? The heart of he who is enlightened with the advice of the revealed scriptures and practices of the sādhus, he himself is really responsible, he who comes and accepts. Anyone who wants to be a gainer must take risk. I am dissatisfied with my circumstances, and I want some special gain. As much as I feel this, then I shall grade and accept, at my own risk.
That is on the surface, and we are told that our sukṛti guides us underneath.
brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona bhāgyavān jīva
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Madhya-līlā, 19.151)
[“While wandering throughout the world, a fortunate soul receives the seed of the creeper of devotion by the mercy of Guru and Kṛṣṇa.”]
What is the constituent part of such fortune? Below śraddhā is sukṛti, as ajñāta-sukṛti and jñāta-sukṛti. This means that unconsciously my energy has been utilised by some sādhu, and in exchange for that, I have received some sukṛti, that is, I find some good elements in me. That develops into śraddhā on the surface.
sat-saṅga prāpyate pumbhiḥ sukṛtaiḥ pūrva-sañchitaiḥ
[“The soul attains the association of devotees through his previously acquired sukṛti.”]
Sukṛti guides me to select the company of a sādhu, and with that we come to the sādhu. There, I find something very hopeful, very promising, and that is accepted by my own inner approval. We take the risk of leaving our society, our religion, our country, and attain the end, realise the end, the highest end of our life.
Spoken 23 December 1982.