Have I Made a Mistake?

by rla Bhakti Dayita Mdhava Gosvm Mahrja

[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font (available here) for better transliteration of Sanskrit into English. Click here for a version without Balarama font.]


My Doubt


A doubt occasionally arises in my heart. I think, Have I made a mistake in accepting the shelter

of the lotus feet of the Gauya Vaiavas? It certainly seems so. I appear to have made a mistake in taking up bhajana, in accepting the shelter of the Gauya Vaiavas and, specifically, in taking refuge of the Gauya Maha and dedicating all my senses to serving in the Maha.


Gauya Vaiavas are not big-hearted. When we perform bhajana under their shelter, we are controlled by so many rules and regulations. If I were to take refuge of some other sampradya where there is no concern for offences, such as vaiava-apardha, nma-apardha or dhma-apardha, I would feel no such hindrance or botheration. I would not be obliged to develop exclusive devotion for a particular object of worship [such as Rdh and Ka], nor would my eating habits be curtailed.

In the Maha, issues like vaiavaapardha are raised, and it often impedes my unrestricted sense

enjoyment, lawless gossiping and other whimsical activities. It would therefore be better for me to live

outside the Maha than be governed by such restraints.


Sometimes I even think it would be best for me to abandon the shelter of a gurudeva as controlling as

mine altogether, and to accept the mantra elsewhere, from someone who doesnt demand that I pay

attention to all the rules and regulations. Thus, I occasionally contemplate severing my ties with the

Gauya Maha completely. What stops me, however, is the thought that if people were to find out that I had broken my connection with r Guru, it could jeopardise my prestige and position.


Discipline and Deceit



The Vaiavas of the Gauya Maha are onepointedlyengaged in worshiping r Gaurgadeva

and r Rdh-Ka, under the guidance of r Rpa Gosvmipda and the best among his followers,

namely, rla Bhaktivinoda hkura and rla Bhaktisiddhnta Sarasvat Gosvm. Ka-prema is

their only goal and their only practice, or sdhana. There is no absence of affection or devotion in the

sdhana of the servants of the Gauya Maha. Hence, they will never support any endeavour that is

unfavourable to the cultivation of affection for r Ka.


What auspiciousness can a sdhana bring if itcant offer its practitioner any way to attain his cherished goal quickly, or if it cant even offer him any certainty that he will realise his worshipable deity at all? This type of sdhana, when propagated, tends only to attract followers. For those content to pass

their lives without purpose or restriction, what use is there to accept the lotus feet of sad-guru, a transcendental teacher? But those who can see their own faults and anarthas, and who try to become free of them, develop an urge to become qualified to taste the bliss of prema for Bhagavn. Only they can remain in the shelter of saintly devotees endowed with this prema. They can experience the happiness of being engaged in service to Bhagavn by living under the guidance of such one-pointed devotees and following their instructions. This involves subduing their senses and abstaining from whimsical activities.


Those who make a show of accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of r Guru simply deceive themselves; they pretend to be self-controlled and reformed but internally maintain their previous bad

impressions, and especially the tendency to strive to gather followers. In other words, they recruit

followers on the pretext of accepting the shelter of r Guru, with the aim of fulfilling their selfish ends

through their so-called disciples. The attempts of such arrogant and duplicitous people to attain auspiciousness are endlessly frustrated.


To be a disciple means to be disciplined, or controlled. If a person outwardly accepts the shelter of

r Guru but arrogantly maintains the attitude that he knows best about his spiritual life, then he is but a cheater deceiving both himself and others. Pure Gauya Vaiavas are most magnanimous and

bestow the highest auspiciousness. If we can become eligible to understand even a single aspect of their

exemplary lives we will become attached to sdhanabhajana and be filled with jubilation and devotion.


Bhakti Lies Beyond Renunciation


Those who possess ka-prema are neither enjoyers nor renunciants. They are not karms, fruitive

workers; neither are they jns, persons cultivating knowledge of the impersonal Brahman. Those who

perform activities opposed to scriptural injunctions honour karms who abide by scriptural injunctions;

and when karms who are eager to enjoy the results of their endeavours see the external renunciation of

jns and renunciants, they may be attracted to them. However, those who hanker for bhagavat-prema

disregard both of these paths. They are attracted only by behaviour that nurtures the cultivation of this prema.


Someone who is not aspiring for prema for Bhagavn will perceive only enjoyment or renunciation

in the behaviour of the devotees. If he takes shelter of them upon observing their external renunciation, he may for a while consider himself blessed to be in their company. Ka-prema, however, cannot be attained by external renunciation. Unless one has faith grounded in philosophical truth (tattvika raddh), or has affection for the svarpa of r Bhagavn, he cannot become attracted to the behaviour of Bhagavns devotees. The characteristic of such one-pointed devotees is that directly or

indirectly they only cultivate love for r Ka:




nuklyena knu

lana bhaktir-uttam


Bhakti-rasmta-sindhu (1.1.11)


The cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the pleasure of r Ka, or in other words

the uninterrupted flow of service to r Ka, performed through all endeavours of the body, mind

and speech, and through the expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhvas), which is not covered

by jna (knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation) and karma (reward-seeking activity), and

which is devoid of all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to r Ka, is called

uttama-bhakti, pure devotional service.



One must deliberate upon this verse. The activities of a devotee of Ka, such as establishing a maha

(spiritual institution), constructing a temple, meeting with materialistic or aristocratic people, hosting

festivals with pomp and grandeur, and giving instructions to ignorant or faithless people, are all uddha-bhakti. To serve Bhagavn and the devotees one may supervise the construction of a temple or the house of a devotee, collect materials, purchase supplies and accept the lowly propensity to beg. Such activities are supremely pleasurable and they nourish ones bhakti.


What Is True Renunciation


kuhi-viprera rama pativrat-iromai

pati lgi kail veyra sev

stambhila sryera gati jyila mta pati

tua kaila mukhya tina-dev


r Caitanya-caritmta (Antya-ll 20.57)


The wife of a brhmaa suffering from leprosy showed herself to be the topmost of chaste women

by serving a prostitute to satisfy her husband. She thus halted the movement of the sun, brought her

dead husband back to life and satisfied the three principal demigods [Brahm, Viu and Mahevara].


We should consider this account in the light of our discussion. That chaste brhmaa wifes service to

a lowly prostitute in the sincere endeavour to please her husband enhanced her glory. She thus became

worshipable for the entire world. Whats more, she became very dear to r Bhagavn. If, however, she

had performed this service for her own sense, pleasure, or for dharma, artha, kma or moka, it

would have been reprehensible in every respect.


Similarly, activities such as constructing a maha, meeting and talking with materialistic or aristocratic people, hosting grand festivals and bestowing the r nma-mantra to faithful persons sincerely desiring to serve r Bhagavn, His devotees and His dhma (all aspects of Vaikuha), enhance Bhakti and ultimately cause prema to appear. Those same activities, however, bind one to this material world if

they are performed with the aim of gratifying ones senses; accumulating wealth, women and fame; or

attaining dharma, artha, kma or moka.


In this world, renunciation means to relinquish the objects of ones attachment. But can ceasing to

take foods that merely aggravate a disease, for instance, be considered renunciation? Abstaining

from foodstuffs that destroy good health and instead accepting foods that increase longevity can hardly be celebrated as a great act of renunciation. Thus, it is hard to see how the act of renouncing one father, mother, relatives, friends, wealth, occupation, business or worldly duties performed to gain material comforts, can in itself be glorious. Only when a person renounces the objects of his mundane

pleasure for the pleasure of the Complete Entity [r Bhagavn], expecting no sense enjoyment in

return, can his renunciation be considered actual renunciation. In other words, true renunciation

entails not striving for dharma, artha, kma or moka, or for wealth, women and adoration.


Ordinarily, it is considered irreligious to forsake the duties the scriptures prescribe for ones vara and

rama; but if these duties are discarded for the pleasure and satisfaction of r Ka, who is the cause

of all causes and the bestower of supreme bliss, then and only then is such renunciation honourable.

Indeed, such renunciation, which benefits everyone, is to be revered. To renounce endeavours for sense

gratification that is, endeavours in ones search for happiness in this world or in the next is courageous and glorious. But the topmost renunciation is to abandon everything, even ones independent will and desires, for the pleasure of Bhagavn r Ka and His one-pointed devotees.


Renouncing the minds propensity for independence, in other words, the sacrifice of ones very self, is far superior to renouncing that which is inert and temporary. The glory of ones renunciation lies truly in the glory of the object of such sacrifice. r Bhagavn and His devotees who possess prema are unlimitedly glorious; and therefore to renounce for their pleasure is supremely noble. Such renunciation is incomparable because it increases the happiness of all living entities by reawakening their relationship with r Bhagavn. It does not admit even the slightest scent of distress. Rather, the renunciant feels increasingly happy at every step. It can therefore be concluded that such renunciation bestows bliss in every respect and is highly esteemed.


Fruitive workers, or karms, make sacrifices and perform austerity with the hope of attaining increased mundane sense pleasure in the future. Such renunciation is therefore meagre and does not bestow complete happiness. Jns, who aspire for impersonal Brahman realisation, make sacrifices and

perform austerity to dispel their own suffering. Their renunciation, also, does not bestow full happiness.


The sacrifices and austerities of Kas devotees, however, are meant exclusively for the pleasure of r Hari. Since r Ka is the cause of all causes, such renunciation bestows true welfare upon the devotee

and upon others. Therefore Gauya Vaiavas greatly honour those activities that promote love of Bhagavn, and they reject activities that hinder it. In this sdhana any sense enjoyment and renunciation that is favourable to bhakti is highly regarded. Yet devotees are not attracted to sense enjoyment and renunciation in their own right. They are attracted to love for Bhagavn and His devotees. They have no independent or whimsical desire to enjoy or renounce. Yukta-vairgya, renunciation for the pleasure of r Ka, is their only sdhana. Without understanding bhajana-rahasya, the secrets of bhajana, one will become bewildered by what sense enjoyment is and what renunciation is. Both are impediments in the sdhakas cultivation of prema for Bhagavn.


Dont Waste a Moment


Those who have realised that this human life offers an invaluable opportunity to work towards attaining the supreme goal, prize every moment of it. They are unwilling to waste even an instant in any other endeavour. They know that living entities in other species of life do not have the facility or good fortune to make progress towards the supreme goal and, accordingly, they see no value in living their lives in the manner of the lower species. Hence, upon attaining this extremely rare human life and, on top of that, attaining the fortune to associate with sdhus and developing raddh for the supreme goal, they cannot quietly squander a single moment of their lives. Rather, they will accept only what is favourable to the cultivation of affection for r Ka and will reject all activities that are unfavourable to it.


As such, the devotees of the Gauya Maha instruct the world to engage only in those practices that are

righteous and favourable to the cultivation of kaprema and to reject unrighteous activities that impede it. Moreover, they never indulge in violence or envy, as this hinders the cultivation of prema.


My Doubt Resolved


Thus, if I am genuinely searching for ka-prema, I have not after all made any mistake in accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of pure Gauya Vaiavas. Such Vaiavas will not fuel our desire for dharma, artha, kma and moka or our hankering for wealth, women and adoration. The purpose of the Maha is to help free us from these anarthas and attain kaprema. By taking shelter of the lotus feet of pure Gauya Vaiavas in the Gauya Maha, beggars for ka-prema become qualified to attain their greatest welfare. Moreover, they receive the opportunity to achieve the highest ideal of magnanimity and to ascend to the topmost level of pure vairgya, renunciation. This is my unshakable conviction. One cannot be deviated from attaining prema for Bhagavn in due course, unless one becomes a severe offender.


One day, by the mercy of rla Prabhupda, the world will profusely glorify and worship the r Sarasvata Gauya Vaiavas [that is, rla Prabhupdas followers]. They alone are able to establish the highest ideal of benevolence in the world. Victory will certainly belong to the devotees of the Gauya Maha, or those who have taken shelter of the lotus feet of Gauya Vaiavas. I have not, therefore, made a mistake in accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of pure Gauya Vaiavas. Rather, I have whole-heartedly embraced the good fortune of attaining my highest welfare, and thus I am truly blessed.


(Essay originally penned in 1966)
Translated from Sri Caitanya-vani
by the Rays of The Harmonist team.
Published in English for the first time in Rays of The Harmonist No. 14 Karttika 2004


About the Author


One of the shining luminaries of the Gaudiya sky, Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami

Maharaja was an initimate disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada

who soon became renowned for his intense devotion, deep humility and brilliance in

spreading the mission of his divine master. Indeed, Srila Prabhupada used to refer to him

as a preacher of volcanic energy.


Srila Bhakti Dayinta Madhva Gosvami Maharaja appeared in this world in Karttika of l904,

On the disappearance day of Srila gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, in Kanchanpada,

Present-day Bangaladesh. He accepted the renounced order in 1944, and established

Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Matha in 1953, the current acarya of which is Srila Bhakti Vallabha

Tirtha Maharaja. One of his most significant contributions was to re-establish the appearance

Site of Srila Prabhupada in Sri Jagannatha Puri. This empowered personality, who was kind and

Magananimous to all, entered nitya-lila in 1979, on the disappearance day of Srila Jagannatha

Das Babaji Maharaja




By Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja


I often received the opportunity to associate closely with our revered siksa-guru Srila Bhakti

Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja. He was serene, tolerant, grace and endowed with many other

Qualities befitting a Vaisnava. He preached Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhus message of Divine Love

Widely throughout India with great vigour. The special feature of his preaching was that he taught

Taught by personal example. He emphasized that we should be humbler than a blade of grass

And more forbearing that a tree, and that we should offer respect to everyone without ourselves

Desiring respect from others. His unique spiritual quality was that he hnoured all his Godbrothers.

This is truly ideal. If we can sincerely follow his teachings, our guru-puja will be successful.


From a speech delivered in Hindi on 17th November 2003

At Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Matha, Vrndavana, at Srila Bhakti

Dayita Mahdava Maharajas birth centennial celebration.

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