F rom Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir
Date: February 10, 2017
Speaker: HG Malati Devi Dasi
Subject: Srimad Bhagavatam 7.10.3
bhaktaṁ kāmeṣv acodayat
O my worshipable Lord, because the seed of lusty desires, which is the root cause of material existence, is within the core of everyone’s heart, You have sent me to this material world to exhibit the symptoms of a pure devotee.
Bhakti–rasāmṛta–sindhu has given considerable discussion about nitya–siddha and sādhana–siddha devotees. Nitya–siddha devotees come from Vaikuṇṭha to this material world to teach, by their personal example, how to become a devotee. The living entities in this material world can take lessons from such nitya–siddha devotees and thus become inclined to return home, back to Godhead. A nitya–siddha devotee comes from Vaikuṇṭha upon the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and shows by his example how to become a pure devotee (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam [Bhakti–rasāmṛta–sindhu
“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.” Bhakti–rasāmṛta–sindhu 220.127.116.11.11]). In spite of coming to this material world, the nitya–siddha devotee is never attracted by the allurements of material enjoyment. A perfect example is Prahlāda Mahārāja, who was a nitya–siddha, a mahā–bhāgavata devotee. Although Prahlāda was born in the family of Hiraṇyakaśipu, an atheist, he was never attached to any kind of materialistic enjoyment. Desiring to exhibit the symptoms of a pure devotee, the Lord tried to induce Prahlāda Mahārāja to take material benedictions, but Prahlāda Mahārāja did not accept them. On the contrary, by his personal example he showed the symptoms of a pure devotee. In other words, the Lord Himself has no desire to send His pure devotee to this material world, nor does a devotee have any material purpose in coming. When the Lord Himself appears as an incarnation within this material world, He is not allured by the material atmosphere, and He has nothing to do with material activity, yet by His example He teaches the common man how to become a devotee. Similarly, a devotee who comes here in accordance with the order of the Supreme Lord shows by his personal behavior how to become a pure devotee. A pure devotee, therefore, is a practical example for all living entities, including Lord Brahmā.
Malati devi dasi:Pranam Mantras
Hare Krishna. I beg a little mercy from you who are more advanced than I’ll ever be in millions of lifetimes. Even in the early stages, I’m still in the early stages, Srila Prabhupada would send us out saying, now go out and preach.I was initiated a few days after he arrived in San Francisco in 1967. He gave a class and then told us to go out and preach. I raised my hand, I had a question about that. How do we do this? What do we say? At that point I can honestly tell you that we still had the little card with the mantra on it so that we would get the words in the right order. He said that you should just hear. You listen to what I am speaking and then you repeat it. You don’t add and you don’t subtract. He gave us that simple formula.
Of course, having Srila Prabhupada’s presence to cover our backs so to speak, made it so that we could go out and speak. If somebody asked us a question that stumped us, even though we knew so little, that little we knew was so much more than what the average person on the street knew.
In those days we did not have the plethora of literature from India and other places that is now available. There was one little bookstore in New York City and another little book store in San Francisco, City Lights, that had a few esoteric books. There were some bogus translations of the Bhagavad Gita by mayavadi impersonalists or, even worse, by scholars. Then, as aspiring seekers, we were reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead because we thought that was a spiritual book. Then I Ching which was a Chinese method and mythology. That was the extent of our so called spiritual understanding.
Right away by hearing from Srila Prabhupada we could understand that we didn’t even know what spiritual meant or what spiritual life was. We could not even answer that question. When somebody would talk about spiritual you’d kind of get this hazy wavy answer that had no substance or meaning.
Srila Prabhupada immediately began speaking to his new followers and devotees as far back as 1966 and ’65. If you ready any of the transcribed lectures or recordings, he’s speaking on a very high subject matter from Caitanya Caritamrita and Srimad Bhagavatam. He’s not mentioning any words. It’s Krishna who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. People were trying to minimize Krishna in their translations of the Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada made it really clear that there is no unborn within, it’s Krishna and only Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada himself is an example of a nitya siddha, a person who has come to show by his example. It is often conferred also that Srila Prabhupada was a shaktavesha avatar. This is one who is specifically deputed by Lord Krishna or Lord Caitanya, who is also Krishna, to do a specific task.
Of course, Srila Prabhupada did something wonderful that no other previous acharya had done, and that is he actually brought life to the words of Lord Caitanya who said that His names will be chanted in every town and village. Prior to Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in the west, this “every town and village” was limited to the sphere of Bharat Varsh, to India. It was considered unholy for a saintly man or a sadhu to leave India.
Lord Caitanya said every town and village. Those with higher vision such as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, they understood and they were promoting in this way. Srila Prabhupada accepted their instruction and made it his life and soul. Because he did that, we have the good fortune of having the example of a nitya siddha devotee who came to personally instruct us how to become devotees. By his mercy, he is still doing that today.
He said that I will live forever in my books. There are his books and of course nowadays we have the recorded media of Srila Prabhupada’s lectures and conversations and discussions. They are available to be heard widely by one and all. Through his media we can have wonderful instructions by Srila Prabhupada, a pure devotee. He was an exceptionally empowered representative of the Lord and a perfected soul, siddha means perfected soul.We know from the scriptures that there are three types of liberated souls. The sadhana siddha, the kripa siddha, and then this nitya siddha. It is explained that once one becomes siddha, whether is sadhana siddha, kripa siddha, or nitya siddha, there is no distinction ultimately. Everyone is considered on the same level.
This is something that is given credence by so many different verses and so many different explanations in scripture, and explanations by Srila Prabhupada. There is even the example of a lighted candle. There is a room full of candles and when they are all lit, they all carry equal weight and give off equal light. You don’t say well, this is the first one. They are all there with their light. At that point there is an equality.
This is also in line with the conclusion that the soul is always untouched by the influence of the conditioned state. We are conditioned souls, temporarily so. The example is given that just as the moon appears to move in a reflection, (The moon is stationery, he’s not going anywhere, but there is a reflection.) so the conditioned souls reflection in the material body appears to be changing, but the soul is not changing. The soul is unaffected. As soon as he is reinstated in his constitutional position, then he becomes eternally liberated.
Srila Prabhupada gave an example to me one time when I’d asked him about this situation. He said that it’s like ice. Ice is a frozen state of water. When the ice melts it again returns to its constitutional position which is a liquid form.
Various examples are found about the perfected pure devotees. A classic example is Narada Muni. We know this beautiful story. He was the son of a maidservant who had the association and the opportunity to serve the bhaktivedantas, the great sages. From this wonderful association and kripa, their mercy, in his next life he became a siddha and was awarded a transcendental body. Even prior to becoming the son of a maidservant, it is said that he was a gandarvika. So he’d gone though all of these different transformations before he appeared as Narada Muni. Then he had this complete freedom, being completely liberated, to move anywhere in the material and spiritual worlds. He can do this even in his self same body which we can understand was an eternally liberated body. No question of it being made of any matter, it is pure sat cit ananda.
Prahlad is also described as a siddha, a liberated soul, even though he had taken birth in this demoniac family of atheists. There are so many other examples.
Srila Prabhupada sometimes defined a nitya siddha as one who is never forgetful of Krishna throughout his whole life. He himself stated about his life that so far as my present life is concerned, I do not remember any part of my life when I was forgetful of Krishna.
I found three letters where he discussed this topic. I want to take the liberty of reading them because it’s Prabhupada’s words and they are very powerful. They are also very clear and descriptive at the same time. Actually this was very interesting. In one letter, June of 1970 to Tamal Krishna, and in another he had written just a couple of days earlier, it was in the same month, June, somehow this topic was churning.At this point in time there were not so many devotees. On a morning walk in San Francisco this devotee, a bhakta, he was not yet an initiated person, asked, Swamiji, are there any perfect and liberated persons, any other pure devotees like you on the planet? So Prabhupada turns to the devotee next to him who was Upendra and said, how many of us are there? Upendra said, about thirty-five. Then Prabhupada turns to this person and says about thirty-five.
Of course we turned to each other like wow, we’re pure devotees. We weren’t even at this point pre-kanistha. We weren’t even on the kanistha level. Later we understood that there were different levels of pure devotees. Srila Prabhupada explained in a simple manner that one who is following the instruction of the spiritual master is a pure devotee.
Just like when you have your preschool, your child is in school. He’s in preschool, not even in kindergarten yet, but he’s a student. You have your kindergarten, your grammar school, your middle school, your high school, your college, your post graduate, everyone is a student. But obviously your post graduate student is on a much higher level. So there are gradients. But still, they are all students. In the same way there are different levels of pure devotees.Srila Prabhupada stated in this letter to Tamal Krishna that so far as my present life is concerned, I do not remember any part of my life when I was forgetful of Krishna, despite the numerous opportunities to engage in sinful activities. So Srila Prabhupada stated that he had a spotlessly pure life. He never engaged in breaking any of the regulative principles on any level. From his characteristics and his extraordinary endowment, he was to uplift all classes of people.He came here and by his example he was uplifting all classes of people and teaching us how to be devotees, whether it was in the lower grade. We don’t sit here and start judging people, everyone here is a devotee. When all of the devotees are together, we are uplifted by the more realized devotees, of course we are very glad to be around them. But still everyone is a devotee.
Persons who have achieved an eternal, blissful life, exactly on the level of Sri Krishna, are able to attract the Lord by their transcendental loving service. They are called eternally perfect, nitya siddha. Srila Prabhupada said that is a technical name, nitya siddha.There are two classes of living entities, nitya siddha and nitya baddha. These nitya baddhas are the eternally conditioned souls and the symptom is that they are forgetful of Krishna. One who follows the principles and instructions enjoyed by the great sages and great devotees of the past can utilize these instructions for practical purposes. Of course, a practical purpose is practicing Krishna Consciousness and teaching others how to become Krishna Consciousness.
Then Prabhupada wrote this letter to Mukunda Maharaj, who was not Mukunda Maharaj at that time. It was June, 1969. Mukunda had written to him some questions.
In the letter Srila Prabhupada said, “Your next question, whether the Spiritual Master was formerly a conditioned soul, actually a bona fide Spiritual Master is never a conditioned soul. There are three kinds of liberated persons. They are called 1) sadhana siddha, 2) kripa siddha, and 3) nitya siddha. Sadhana siddha means one who has attained perfection by executing the regulative principles of devotional service. Kripa siddha means one who has attained perfection by the special mercy of Krishna and the Spiritual Master, and nitya siddha means one who was never contaminated. The symptoms of nitya siddha is that from the beginning of his life he is attached to Krishna, and he is never tired of rendering service to Krishna. So we have to know what is what by these symptoms. But when one is actually on the siddha platform there is no such distinction as to who is sadhana, kripa, or nitya siddha. When one is siddha, there is no distinction” as to who is sadhana siddha or what. And then he gives an example, “Just like when the river water glides down to the Atlantic Ocean nobody can distinguish which portion was the Hudson River or some other river. Neither is there any necessity to make any such distinction. Actually, every living entity is eternally uncontaminated,” So this may seem like a contradiction. We are all eternally uncontaminated.
“…although he may be in the material touch. This is the version of the Vedas. Asanga ayam purusha—the living entity is uncontaminated. Just like when there is a drop of oil in water you can immediately distinguish the oil from the water, and the water never mixes with the oil. Similarly, a living entity, although in material contact, is always distinct from the matter.” Sometimes we have this bewilderment where we appear to be covered.In 1970, on June 18th, he wrote to Tamal Krishna and said something quite substantial. Obviously he had asked Srila Prabhupada about his situation. He starts the letter as “Krishna philosophy is understood as Krsna philosophy is understood as it is stated in the Vedas:Yasya deve para bhakti yatha deve tatha gurau
“One who has got unflinching faith in the Supreme Lord and similar faith in his Spiritual Master to him only the imports of Vedic knowledge become revealed.”
A Spiritual Master is always liberated. In any condition of His life He should not be mistaken as ordinary human being. This position of a Spiritual Master is achieved by three processes. One is called sadhana siddha. That means one who is liberated by executing the regulative principle of devotional service. Another is krpa siddha, one who is liberated by the mercy of Krsna or His devotee. And another is nitya siddha who is never forgetful of Krsna throughout his whole life. These are the three features of the perfection of life.
So far Narada Muni is concerned, in His previous life He was a maidservant’s son, but by the mercy of the devotees He later on became siddha and next life He appeared as Narada with complete freedom to move anywhere by the grace of the Lord. So even though He was in his previous life a maidservant’s son there was no impediment in the achievement of His perfect spiritual life. So I do not know why you have asked about my previous life. Whether I was subjected to the laws of material nature?” He had obviously asked Srila Prabhupada if he had been affected.
“So, even though accepting that I was subjected to the laws of material nature, does it hamper in my becoming Spiritual Master? What is your opinion? From the life of Narada Muni it is distinct that although He was a conditioned soul in His previous life, there was no impediment of His becoming the Spiritual Master. This law is applicable not only to the Spiritual Master, but to every living entity.
There are thousands of examples explained in our books that the conditioned soul is never affected with the material body. It is said in the Vedas asamga ayam purusa which means the living entity is always unaffected with matter.”
He gives again the example of the moon reflecting.So far I am concerned, I cannot say what I was in my previous life, but one great astrologer calculated that I was previously a physician and my life was sinless. Besides that, to corroborate the statement of Bhagavad-gita “sucinam srimatam gehe yogabhrasta samyayate” [Bg. 6.41] which means an unfinished yogi takes birth in rich family or born of a suci or pious father. By the grace of Krsna I got these two opportunities in the present life to be born of a pious father and brought up in one of the richest, aristocratic families of Calcutta (Kasinath Mullick). The Radha Krsna Deity in this family called me to meet Him, and therefore last time when I was in Calcutta, I stayed in that temple along with my American disciples. Although I had immense opportunities to indulge in the four principles of sinful life because I was connected with a very aristocratic family, Krsna always saved me.”
You know one time when he was ill someone tried to give him some chicken broth or something and he wouldn’t accept it. Even though he was a small kid he knew immediately. “Krishna always saved me.”
“…and throughout my whole life I do not know what is illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating or gambling. So far my present life is concerned, I do not remember any part of my life when I was forgetful of Krsna.”
So one time this reporter asked Srila Prabhupada, so when did you become Krishna Consciousness? Prabhupada answered, September 1st, 1896. The man thought that Prabhupada didn’t get it so he tried again, but when did you become conscious of Krishna? Prahbuapda said, September 1st, 1896. I was born in Calcutta. In other words, he was always mindful of Krishna.
One devotee, Patitapavana, was introduced to Srila Prabhupada. The devotee who was introduced said, this is Miles over here. That was his name, Miles. He’d like to get initiated. At that point he hadn’t really actually surrendered, but he had an intense desire and wanted to join the devotees. He looked at Prabhupada, just after getting introduced, and asked, what is your date of birth? He was into astrology. Prabhupada looked at him and said, oh, astrology, you like? He goes, yes, your date of birth? Prabhupada said kind of proudly, September 1st, 1896. Miles says, and what time? Prabhupada says, four o’clock, and he laughed. But then Patitapavana said that was the moment that he surrendered to Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada was saying in an early lecture, I think in February 1967 in San Francisco. He went to San Francisco in mid January of 1967. This is approximately a month later. He’s telling us, you are liberated, you are liberated. You can imagine us sitting there just five minutes off the street with all of our filthy, dirty habits. Now we are liberated.
It’s like the dream, you are thinking that a tiger is eating you. You’ve never been eaten by a tiger. There is no tiger. So we have to get out of this dream. Don’t you sometimes dream that a tiger is eating you? Is there any tiger? You’re simply thinking it. So if you keep in Krishna Consciousness then that nonsense thinking will go away. Therefore we have to keep ourselves always in Krishna Consciousness so that this dream will never come. At night, awaken. Keep awake.
So we’re talking about this dream, that if you keep awake then the dream won’t come. If we keep ourselves in Krishna Consciousness the dream will go away.
Sometimes in the old days, people would be chanting and they would kind of have these imagination experiences where maybe they thought they saw Krishna. This one girl was telling Prabhupada what she was seeing while she was chanting. Srila Prabhupada said, that’s ok. Keep chanting and it will go away.
Actually that same devotee who asked about how many pure devotees there were, he had met Prabhupada in New York City. Or he had met the devotees and maybe he saw Srila Prabhupada, but he didn’t make a connection. Then he came to the west coast in that cross movement between New York and California, New York and San Francisco in this hippie revolution that was going on. There were some people who were trying to go back to nature.
North of San Francisco was this commune called Morning Star Ranch. The ranch had this person, Mr. Gottlieb who was in charge. He was a very open minded person. He would let people come to his ranch to get back to nature or whatever you wanted to get back to. Also clothes were optional. You did not have to wear them.The devotees brought Srila Prabhupada up there because this Mr. Gottlieb had heard the mantra and gotten members of his commune to start chanting. So the devotees thought to bring Srila Prabhupada there to just capture them all. When he arrived there is a little path that has to be walked up. All of a sudden from this tree a little fellow jumps out only wearing his long hair and beard. He didn’t have anything else on.
That person later came down to San Francisco and showed up in the temple with his big beard and some clothes on. He was staying around. After a week that told him that if he wanted to stay there he had to shave up. The next day he came and had shaved up his head but he still had the big beard. Later he shaved off that beard and later became Madhuvisa Prabhu.
So this same devotee had asked the question about how many pure devotees there were. He was also at the ranch but wearing clothes. He came down to San Francisco also and began coming to the temple regularly. He even bought the books. He was becoming really serious. He would always ask what was considered intelligent questions.
One time we had what we thought was going to be a big program. We were thinking ok, we had broughtSrila Prabhupada to this Avalon Ballroom full of degraded hippies. All four regulative principles were being broken right in front of your face. I remember standing up in the balcony and looking down at the scene. Just recently all of us had been going to this same place.
It was such a big terrible place really. But it was such an attractive place for young people to come to and try and enjoy and get into an altered state of mind. Everything there was geared towards getting into an alternate state of mind, even the lights were set up to pulsate to try and alter your consciousness.
I looked at that and saw Srila Prabhupada down there. I suddenly felt like I had to do something to save him. I felt kind of like this motherly feeling of seeing your child in the middle of the freeway but you’re far away and you want to save him.
It’s described in Mukunda’s book. Actually Mukunda describes it kind of generously. It was not that everybody in that situation was paying full attention. Most of them were so zonked out from different intoxications and their minds were all over the place. They were not in a state to really understand. So Prabhupada very wisely had Allen Ginsberg, who they knew, to make the introduction. Then he spoke very briefly according to the length of their ability to absorb. Then there was kirtan. Some of the rock and roll bands joined in, but most of the people were distracted. Prabhupada immediately left and we all met him at the exit. On the way out he turned around one last time, looked over this pathetic scene, and he said that this is no place for a brahmacari.
So there was that incident. Then we took him to the psychedelic head shop that had a back room where people would have meetings, usually they were really stupid things. They would try to get a dead person to speak or something really ridiculous. We took Prabhupada there.
Then we started thinking that we should expand the preaching field. We rented a beautiful place. It was one of these very open minded churches, the Universalists, Unitarian Churches. They are very open minded because they don’t have a philosophy. You can believe whatever you want and still be a member. You don’t even have to accept God or Jesus. Whatever you want. But they have principles. You might say the qualities of a devotee. They believe in being a moral and kind person, etc.
We rented their place and it was just beautiful. It had nice padded seats and wasn’t all shabby. We advertised in such a way that we thought, certainly we are going to get very quality people to be there. When we showed up there were maybe three rows of people and most of them were the devotees. It was just like a handful of people and most of them were the devotees. You’d look out at this beautiful venue and it was empty. We just had sinking hearts and could barely look at Srila Prabhupada because we felt so embarrassed.
He was introduced and stood up and was preaching as if the place was totally packed. It was a beautiful lecture, basic information but spoken so authoritatively. Afterwards he said, all right, are there any questions? This same person who had asked about how many pure devotees, asked, because he had a doubt. If I start this process and I don’t finish it, what happens?
Prabhupada nodded, he liked the question. He said that it’s like a spiritual bank account. In your material bank account you can lose money, but in the spiritual bank account, you can’t lose. Whatever you deposit, it remains. Let’s say that you don’t finish or you decide to go somewhere else, that spiritual bank account remains. When you come back, immediately you start from that platform. He said, is that all right? The young man said yes. That person was initiated as Tamal Krishna.
I started by saying that Srila Prabhupada sent us out to preach. We hadn’t had any seminars, we weren’t certified, we didn’t take the disciples course or anything. He just sent us out. I’m not panning the disciples course, I’m really grateful for it. I’m saying that we did not have these opportunities. At the same time he was giving immense amounts of responsibility to very young people. Even when he left we were still very young people. In the San Francisco temple the oldest person was 27 years old. One day this lady started coming who was 35. We were all really suspicious, what does this old lady want, ya know?
He had so much faith in the words of his spiritual master and he followed them perfectly. When people would ask him, how have you done this? You’ve done something so wonderful. He would say, if I have done anything wonderful, it is that I simply have followed the instructions of my spiritual master and I did not deviate. That was a standing example for us.
He was with us for eleven years. In that short amount of time he went from being the man off the boat with his box of books, to 108 temples. Between 1970 and 1971 there were 32 temples opened. That meant about three a month were opening. Hayagriva wrote that book, the Hare Krishna Explosion because it was like an explosion, mainly young persons.
When he left, he left this movement, and the future of this movement and of ISKCON in the hands of young and relatively inexperienced persons. Nonetheless, he expected us to do the needful and in his words, push on this movement. He was asked sometime about how Lord Caitanya said that His name would be chanted in every town and village, but He was God, so why didn’t He do it? Srila Prabhupada answered in a very humble way, because He left something for me to do. So Prabhupada did it. Lord Caitanya left it for him to spread His name.
In the same way, Srila Prabhupada left something for all of us to do. Now the Holy Name is spread, but how many billions of people are there in this world? How many of us are there even here or in any given spot? There are billions of people so we still have to go out and spread Krishna Consciousness and increase the numbers of Krishna devotees. Prabhupada has left that for us to do and for future generations. It will always be our mission.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya.
Srimad Bhagavatam ki jaya.