Compassionate Avatara of Kali-yuga
by Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja
Srila Rupa Gosvami is the confidential servant of Sri Gaurasundara, the most munificent
avatara who mercifully appeared in the age of Kali (karunaya-avatirnah kalau). Who but such an intimate servant can understand which mood appears in the heart of Mahaprabhu at what moment, and how that mood augments the hladini-sakti (internal pleasure potency) that resides there? No one has the power to understand the deep and diverse pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu without bathing in the dust of the lotus feet of such an antaranga (intimate, internal) associate. Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami Prabhu always prayerfully contemplated the lotus feet of those internal devotees, and in this way he proceeded in his service [of glorifying Mahaprabhu] without the slightest obstruction. He concludes every chapter of Sri Caitanya-caritamrita with:
sri-rupa-raghunatha-pade yara asa
caitanya-caritamrita kahe krishnadasa
Praying at the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha, always aspiring for their mercy,
I, Krishnadasa, narrate this Sri Caitanyacaritamrita.
We will understand the transcendental pastimes of Sri Gaurasundara only when we receive the blessings of Srila Rupa and Raghunatha. For this reason Srila Rupa Gosvami benedicted all jivas:
May the son of Srimati Saci-devi, Sri Gaurahari, forever manifest spontaneously within the innermost core of your heart. Adorned with the radiant splendour of molten gold, He has descended (avatirnah) in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow upon the world that which has not been given for a long time – the beauty of His own brilliantly radiant ujjvala-prema-rasa bhakti, service in the highest mellow of amorous love.
Accomplish this Task
Karunaya-avatirnah kalau – what kindness Sri Sacinandana-hari Gaurasundara has shown the jivas overwhelmed by the age of Kali by mercifully descending at this time. The people of the world, however, are unable to comprehend His magnanimity, even today.
Therefore, to assist us in understanding His purpose for descending, Sri Gaurasundara Himself made a prediction and liberally ordered the residents of Bharat (India) to accomplish this task.
manushya janma yara
janma sarthaka kari’
Anyone who has taken a human birth in the land of India should make his life successful by striving for the highest benefit of all others.
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 9.41)
All of the acaryas in the line of Srila Rupa Gosvami have endeavoured tirelessly to inform everyone of this order of Mahaprabhu by writing unprecedented literatures. Commanded by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, om visnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada proved most effective in his attempts to do this. If his qualified disciples had protected his line of thought and tried to inform the world about Sriman Mahaprabhu, maybe by now they would have successfully preached the message of Sri Gaurasundara in all corners of the globe.
What nectar there is in the message of Sri Gaurasundara! The educated sector of today’s society is most curious to learn about this. In this regard, it is worth noting the words of our respected Dr. Sriyuta Kalidasa Nagara. Our commendable godbrother and barrister, Dr. Samvidananda dasa, was present one day during a discussion at Dr. Nagara’s house. Sri Kalidasa Nagara practically ridiculed us by saying that a certain mission does not have anything worthy to say, yet its members are preaching their message all over the world; but we are still unable to propagate such a grand message of Sriman Mahaprabhu beyond the borders of Bengal.
We should realise that it is due to our great disqualification that we have not preached this message out of Bengal. If we compete with the jat gosains, (caste gosvamis), taking pride in establishing a mere three or four mathas and temples and collecting a few disciples and servants, the message of Mahaprabhu will not be broadcast.
“Unless we collectively endeavour to ensure that the most munificent incarnation, Sri Gaurasundara, manifests in the heart of each and every jiva stricken by Kali, this task will remain unaccomplished.” These were the final words of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada. He told us to work cooperatively to preach the message of Rupa and Raghunatha. Our misfortune is that we have strived to follow all of his instructions except this one.
The First Step in Attaining Transcendental Knowledge
In his Sarartha-varshini commentary on Bhagavad-gita, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments on the verse vyavasayatmika buddhir (2:41) as follows:
“Iha bhakti-yoge vyavasayatmika buddhir ekaiva.
mama srimad guru-upadishtam bhagavata-kirtanasmarana-
carana-paricaranadi kam etad eva mama
sadhanam etad eva mama sadhyam etad eva mama
jivatuh sadhana-sadhya-dasayostyaktum asakyam etad
eva me kamyam etad eva me karyam etad anyat na me
karyam napy abhilashaniyam svapne ’pity atra sukham
astu, dukham vastu, samsaro nasyatu, va na nasyatu,
tatra mama kapi na kshatiriyeva’m niscayatmika buddhir
kaitava-bhaktav eva sambhavet, yad uktam – ‘tato
bhajeta mam bhaktya sraddhalur dridha niscayah’ iti.”
This means, “On the path of bhakti our sole sadhana is to follow with resolute intelligence the instructionwe have received from Sri Gurupadapadma. With fixed resolve we should endeavour to execute whatever order we have received from him regarding bhagavat-kirtana.
This is both our sadhana (practice) and our sadhya (goal), and our sole duty is to organise our entire life around trying to follow that instruction. We are never to neglect the order of Gurupadapadma, either in the stage of sadhana or when we have attained our ultimate goal.
“Our sole desire in life is to serve Gurupadapadma according to his desire. We should have no other aspiration even in our dreams. If in following the order of Gurupadapadma we encounter happiness or distress, let it be. Our material life may be destroyed or may not, but whatever the case, so be it. Either way, we will neither lose nor gain. ‘Our one and only duty is to serve our spiritual master.’ To be fixed in this understanding is characteristic
of resolute intelligence and firm faith. Service to Sri Guru and Bhagavan performed with this resolve constitutes bhakti. All else we do in the name of bhakti is simply sense gratification.”
When Aurangzeb went to instruct his son, Mohammad, about devotion to his forefathers, Mohammad plainly said, “Must I learn about devotion to my forefathers from you?” Aurangzeb had imprisoned his own father, Sahajahan, and usurped his throne, so naturally Mohammad was not ready to hear from him any instruction on ancestral respect.
When Vallabha Bhatta declared his own commentary on the Bhagavata to be superior to that of Sridhara Svami, Sri Gaurasundara replied:
prabhu hasi’ kahe, – “svami na mane yei jana
vesyara bhitare tare kariye ganana”
Smiling, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “I consider that person a prostitute who does not accept the svami to be an authority.”
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Antya-lila 7.115)
Bhagavad-gita instructs us that worshipping the acarya (acaryopasana) is the first principal step in attaining transcendental knowledge. Therefore, one who tries to attain the position of guru by disregarding the acaryas’ and Sri Guru’s instructions will never be successful in that position.
The Flow of Mercy
In Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s time, Sriman Nityananda Prabhu broke open the dam that blocked the ocean of mercy, and began to distribute prema to any and everyone. The society of goldsmiths in Saptagrama were harassed by the artificial caste system of Ballal Sena. They were of the lowest caste, yet Sriman Nityananda Prabhu went from door to door and delivered them all. “Murkha vanikkula karilena uddhara – He delivered the foolish society of goldsmiths.” Each and every person has the right to perform bhakti; one’s caste and dynasty are of no consideration. In this mood, Sriman Nityananda Prabhu bestowed prema upon all.
Later on, the so-called caste gosvamis claimed that they were the sole representatives of
Nityananda Prabhu’s dynasty, thus again blocking the flow coming from the ocean of mercy. But then the second manifestation of Nityananda Himself and the embodiment of Gauranga’s teachings (gaura-vani), om vishnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, broke open that dam and made the river of pure bhakti flow in the same way it did in Sriman Mahaprabhu’s time.
Srila Prabhupada ordered his qualified disciples to come together and preach the message of Sri Rupa and Raghunatha as he had done, but now, for some reason the current of bhakti is again unfortunately coming to a standstill. We should all be diligent to ensure that the river of Sri Bhaktivinoda’s conceptions never stops flowing.
The Dark Age of Kali
Srimad-Bhagavatam describes how the rishis headed by Saunaka assembled at Naimisharanya, and according to the line of thought that is appropriate for Vaishnavas, determined the obligatory duties of the jivas stricken by the age of Kali. Seeing the terrible condition of the jivas in Kali-yuga, Saunaka and other rishis said to Suta Gosvami:
O learned one, the life span of the general person in Kali-yuga is short. Furthermore, he is lazy (lacking resolve in spiritual life), less intelligent, troubled by various obstacles and unfortunate (bereft of sadhusanga). In addition, he is afflicted by the threefold miseries. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.10)
In the age of Kali all the jivas have short lives, are lazy and possess an intelligence that is riddled with sinful desire. They are always agitated by obstacles and troubled by sickness and lamentation. The rishis were wondering how, in such a condition, the jivas could attain true welfare. The terrible condition of the human race in Kali-yuga has been described in the Twelfth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Sri Sukadeva Gosvami told Parikshit, “As the days in Kali-yuga pass by, religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, forgiveness, compassion, life span and memory will gradually diminish.” We are gradually realising this. In Kali-yuga, a person will adhere to a religion in name only. One who tells the truth will not be able to fill his belly. Cleanliness will not exist at all because public places, hotels, restaurants and shops will be full of the most degenerate people with
the vilest tendencies. The merit of forgiveness will be forgotten; one who is forgiving will be considered timid or cowardly. Not even members of the same family will be forgiving with each other. The quality of compassion will be found only in fairy tales. Longevity will not exist anywhere, especially in India where people only live for seventy-five years. Memory will be limited to knowledge acquired through books.
In Kali-yuga, the status of one’s birth, conduct and good qualities will be measured by one’s affluence. A person with wealth will belong to the highest caste and be considered to bear all good qualities. No one will inquire as to the identity of one’s mother and father, for at one’s marriage one’s kula (family caste), gotra (family line) and those who gather as witnesses to the marriage will not be considered important.
All social activities, such as giving and receiving, buying and selling, eating and feeding others, and communicating, will consist solely of lying and cheating. The cause of love between male and female will be based on expertise in love-making, style of dress, their decorative ornaments, bodily strength and external beauty.
The term grihastha-asrama will be found only in tales because of the free, unrestricted meeting of men and women. A person will be regarded as a brahmana simply by wrapping a two-paisa thread around his neck. It will not be necessary to scrutinise him to see if he has the qualities of a brahmana, or those of a kshatriya or vaisya. Sight of this thread will suffice. Wearing saffron cloth and carrying a stick will make one a sannyasi, and donning
white cloth or pants will denote one as a grihastha. There will be no need for any actual qualification. Only those with money will receive justice. For example, you won’t be able to enter the courts without first paying the fee of money-stamped paper and a lawyer, what to speak of further court proceedings.
One will be known as a scholar if, on the strength of his powerful voice, he can lecture for three to four hours. One who is poor will be considered a ruffian and a thief, and the most honoured sadhu will be one who exhibits the most arrogance and self-importance. One who travels a long distance to take bath in the Ganga at Haridvara will be considered greatly pious, but such piety will not be attributed to one who takes bath in the Ganga flowing through any other city, or even through one’s own locality. Eight-hundred thousand people gathered in Allahabad to take bath during the Kumbha Mela. They had not read Srila Narottama dasa’s prayer which says, “tirtha-yatra parisrama, kevala manera bhrama – going on pilgrimage is simply a useless labour. It is only another kind of satisfaction for the bewildered mind.”
One will look charming if he grows long hair.Nowadays you can even find young boys with long hair. No matter how little they eat and no matter how much their faces shrivel up, they will still grow their hair long to try to look beautiful. The unfortunate and destitute people of Kali-yuga will use soaps and cosmetics in their attempt to look fair and handsome.
A person who can eat to the full satisfaction of his belly will think he has achieved the fourfold goals of life, namely dharma (religiosity), artha (wealth), kama (sense enjoyment) and moksha (liberation from material bondage). He will not consider it necessary to attain anything more. In the age of Kali, people will think that if they are able to feed their wives and children, they will have achieved the expertise King Daksha attained by performing fire sacrifices.
Putting a Dog on the Throne
There will be no practical means by which one can make a sacrificial fire. Dharma (religious activities) and seva (service) will exist in name only. People will be bound to the practices of a so-called religious tradition, motivated by their public image as a religious person and the reputation of their guru. Whether they are religious or not, the world will be filled with people of this mentality. The strongest among them will come forward posing as political leaders themselves. By cheating the unfortunate, less intelligent masses, they will accumulate votes and thus become rulers. Sometimes a pot of milk hanging from the wall may fall accidentally and the cat will think herself fortunate. But what benefit can these low-minded rulers bestow upon the people by such power?
Hitopadesa states, “Sva yadi kriyate raja tat kim nasnaty upanaham – If a dog-eater becomes the king, can he give up his nature?” Can one ever give up his nature? What benefit is there in making a dog sit on a throne? He will not give up his nature of eating dried flesh. In the same way, it is sure and certain that those who present themselves as rulers, having painted themselves as leaders with the colour of popular vote, will ultimately act according to their acquired nature. Which scriptures related to maintaining their citizens have they read that their hearts will break for the sufferings of the people? While giving grandiose lectures they will pretend that their heart is breaking, but at the time of action they will only loot and plunder. “Andhera nagari bakuba raja, taka sera bhaji taka sera khaja – the king will be as blind and degraded as the citizens.”
In this way a picture of the age of Kali has been painted. Seeing this we can understand why Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said to Sri Ramananda, “varnasrama dharma, eho bahya, age kaha ara – varnasramadharma is external; please speak something beyond this.” How can the people of Kali-yuga practise varnasramadharma? For them everything is in jeopardy.
Translated from Sri Gaudiya Patrika Year 7, Issue 1
by the Rays of The Harmonist team.
Published in English for the first time in Rays of The Harmonist No. 16 Karttika 2006