naisam matis tavad

The Vaiṣṇava is All-in-All

In honor of Śrī Nṛsiṁha-chaturdaśī, in this post we are presenting two verses from the Temple of Love and Affection which are specially relevant to this day.

Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj took shelter at the lotus feet of Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj on this day in 1947. In the following transcript of a lecture he gave in 2006 here in Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh Nabadwīp, he describes this and the specific śloka that convinced him to leave his previous life and join permanently within the association of the devotees. This śloka was chosen to be engraved on the Temple of Love and Affection for this pivotal role it played in the divine life of Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj.

Our Maṭh’s brahmāchārī went to preach in Nadan-ghāṭ, and I am met with them and mixed with them. One brahmāchārī named Sudarśan Brahmāchārī, he made much illusion over me, and I was convinced. Now I am thinking, how was it possible to happen? It is the grace of Lord Kṛṣṇa. I was attracted with Lord Śiva, but Kṛṣṇa was my heart and soul, Śrī-Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. That was our family tradition and also my lifestyle. But Lord Śiva was in the middle, I think he was like Guru. At present I think that.

That time I did not have so much consciousness, but now I think I was illusioned by that brahmmāchārī, Sudarśan Brahmāchārī. There were five or six brahmāchārīs in a group for preaching in Nadan-ghāṭ, and I was attracted to their preaching matters. But that brahmāchārī made me temporary renounced from worldly affairs, and I became liberated. And leaving everything, I went to Nabadwīp to Śrīla Guru Mahārāj. Finally, I think it was the mercy of Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Śiva. Before I was born my father promised to Śiva, “If you give me this one boy child, I shall make him your sannyāsī when he is sixteen years old.”

I heard that this was his promise, but I did not remember anything [about that at that time], I was in the illusion of Sudarśan Prabhu. Later I remember everything, but that time I was very much affected. Sudarśan Prabhu told me one śloka from Śrīmad Bhāgavat,

gurur na sa syāt sva-jano na sa syāt
pitā na sa syāj jananī na sā syāt
daiva na tat syān na patiś cha sa syān
na mocayed ya samupeta‑mtyum
  (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 5.5.18)

[“A guru, relative, parent, husband, or demigod who cannot save us from repeated birth and death should be abandoned at once.”] 

What I understood I do not know. But I was very attracted. And which way I came away from the material illusion, that also I do not know. I cannot feel what was the cause. But finally I understand that this was Lord Śiva’s illusion. And Lord Kṛṣṇa was smiling to see that. And Śrīla Guru Mahārāj, he gave shelter to me finally.”

The Temple of Love and Affection Verse 6

gurur na sa syāt sva-jano na sa syāt
pitā na sa syāj jananī na sā syāt
daiva na tat syān na patiś cha sa syān
na mochayed ya samupeta‑mtyum
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: 5.5.18)
“No one should become a spiritual master, a relative, a father, a mother, a worshippable deity or a husband if they cannot deliver their dependents from (or help their dependents leave behind) the path of imminent death (the cycle of repeated birth and death, the bondage of the illusory environment of Māyā). Moreover, any so-called spiritual master, relative, father, mother, demigod or husband who cannot save one from bondage within material existence should be abandoned at once.”
Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur has commented on this verse as follows in his article Be Humbler Than Even a Blade of Grass: “That guru is no Guru, that father is no father, that mother is no mother, that devata (god) is no devata, that kinsman is no kinsman, who cannot save us from the jaws of death, who cannot give us the eternal life, who cannot save us from the ignorance of death in the shape of addiction to this material world….[Those cheaters] who cannot rescue us from the jaws of death can only delude us for a certain number of days.”

Today, Śrī Nṛsiṁha-chaturdaśī, is primarily a festival which extols the glories of Prahlād Mahārāj and the Lord’s nature of being subjugated by the love and His devotees and naturally inspired to reveal their glories to the world and protect them from anything which may inhibit their mood and practice of devotion. As it is mentioned in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Lord Nṛsiṁhadev appeared from the pillar in the palace of Hiraṇyakaśipu, satyaṁ vidhātuṁ nija-bhṛtya-bhāṣitaṁ (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 7.8.17), to prove that the expressions of His devotees (about Him) are always true.

In light of this, below is presented some of the most prominent teachings of Prahlād Mahārāj. These verses are found within the lectures of Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj and Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj and were especially prominent in the preaching of Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Mahārāj. The third of these verses is engraved on the Temple of Love and Affection.

[The following translations present the meanings of the verses as well as concepts from the commentary of Śrīla Viśvanāth Chakravartī Ṭḥākur.]

matir na kṛṣṇe parata svato vā
mitho ’bhipadyeta gha-vratānām
adānta-gobhir viśatāṁ tamisra
puna punaś charvita-charvaṇānām
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 7.5.30)
“O father! The hearts of persons who are attached to mundane household life ((gha-vratas), the hearts of materialistic persons who are addicted to worldly pleasures and irreverent of the transcendent) never become devoted to Kṛṣṇa. Neither the advice of others, nor their own efforts, nor any combination of the two are able to change them. Such persons, being subjugated by the pulls of their uncontrolled senses, descend into the terrible darkness of hell (into the affliction-ridden world of cyclic birth and death (saṁsāra); into utter ignorance), and again and again (perpetually, like ruminant animals) chew that which has already been chewed (ruminate on the fleeting pleasures and pains of material existence).”

na te vidu svārtha-gati hi viṣṇu
durāśayā ye bahir-artha‑mānina
andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānās
te ’pīśa‑tantryām uru‑dāmni baddhāḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 7.5.31)
“Such persons, who are wicked-hearted and attached to mundanity, who consider external worldly experience (the experience of the physical senses) to be all-in-all (and accept others who are similarly attached to mundanity and desirous of worldly ends as their guides (gurus)), are never able to understand that the Supreme Lord Śrī Viṣṇu is the ultimate goal of all jīva-souls (and the sole shelter of the saintly souls who seek to obtain the ultimate goal of life (Bhāgavat-prema)). Just like blind persons being led by other blind persons (who are unable to understand the proper path to follow and fall into a ditch), such persons are forcefully bound by the strong ropes of the laws of the Lord’s material nature. (All such persons, like asses bound by ropes to their labor, remain bound within worldly action (karma)—all such persons remain engaged in selfish actions, bound within their social roles as brāhmaṇas, kṣatriya, vaiśyas, śudras and so forth by the long ropes of the (karma-kāṇḍa sections of the) Vedas which direct the conditioned souls to pursue dharma (piety), artha (wealth), and kāma (mundane enjoyment)).”

The Temple of Love and Affection Verse 7

naiṣāṁ matis tāvad urukramāṅghri
spṛśaty anarthāpagamo yad-artha
mahīyasāṁ pāda-rajo-’bhieka
nikiñchanānāṁ na vṛṇīta yāvat
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 7.5.32)
“So long as all such persons intently pursuant of mundane ends (gṛha-vratas) do no bath in the dust of the lotus feet of the great devotees (paramahaṁsas, niṣkiṣchan Vaiṣṇavas—who have abandoned all worldly desires, pursuits, activities, relationships and so forth, who are devoid of all mundane egotism, who are fully surrendered to the Lord and exclusively engaged in devotion; so long as materialistic persons do not embrace the shelter and guidance of such devotees of the Lord), their hearts never come in touch with the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord Urukram, which are the destroyer of all anarthas (deep-set desires for mundane ends, obstacles to pure devotion, forms of perpetual misery within the material world; and thus the anarthas of such persons are never dispelled and it remains impossible for their hearts to become devoted to the Lord).”

This verse is extremely pivotal in the siddhānta of the Rūpānuga Samprādaya, and the purport of the verse, in essence, is as follows:

Without obtaining the shelter and mercy of a pure devotee, the anarthas of a conditioned soul are never dispelled and they never obtain the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord.

This spiritual truth leads to the conclusion that a conditioned soul must take surrender to and serve Śrī Guru and Vaiṣṇava wholesale, faithfully considering their shelter to be even more essential than the shelter of the Lord Himself.

Śrīla Viśvanāth Chakravartī Ṭhākur has explained in his commentary on this verse from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam in this connection that surrendered service to Guru-Vaiṣṇava performed with such faith results in all perfection—the destruction of all anarthas and the manifestation of pure devotion within the heart (yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ).

In His teachings to Śrīla Sanātan Goswāmī Prabhu, Śrīman Mahāprabhu gave the purport of this verse of Prahlāda Mahārāj as follows:
mahat‑kpā vinā kona karme ‘bhakti’ naya
kṛṣṇa‑bhakti dūre rahu, sasāra nahe kaya
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmta: Madhya‑līlā, 22.51)
“Without the mercy of a great devotee, none of the (even apparently pious and spiritual) activities performed by a jīva-soul are ‘devotion’ (bhakti). Unless a jīva-soul receives the mercy of a great devotee, devotion for Kṛṣṇa remains inaccessible to them and their entanglement with the material world never comes to an end.”

Bearing in our hearts such exclusive and purely devotional Scriptural conclusions, we pray on this day for the mercy of Prahlād Mahārāj and the pure devotees in his line of wholesale, exclusive surrender unto the Lord (our Guru-varga), faithfully considering their connection to be all-in-all.

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