Sraddha is a wonderful substance. In no time it transports us beyond the calculations of this world. The sraddha that I speak of is not the same as it is perceived by the majority of temple-goers. A worldly petition cannot be couched inside real sraddha. On the other hand, sraddha also cannot harbour the feeling, “I have nothing to ask, I am satisfied with what I have and I worship my Creator out of gratitude.” The Vedic aphorism, athato brahma-jijnasa marks the beginning of one’s spiritual transaction and sraddha is the currency. If there is no transaction, where is the question of currency? Sraddha is our wealth that gives us impetus to march towards the Absolute Truth. Empiric philosophers and scientists will eventually deduce through logic that this material world is futile. They fight a losing battle since they will never replace this world of sensory experience with the positive experience of the spiritual world – something that will always elude the mundane senses. However, it does not take a philosopher to understand the absolute truth. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna says, srutvapyenam veda na caiva kascit – even after hearing about the Absolute Truth, some don’t understand. Spiritual knowledge is such that while a great scholarly philosopher goes amiss in understanding the Absolute Truth, a simple-hearted person graced with sraddha will find no difficulty. After all, it does not require complex deductions to understand that a rose is beautiful, but it does require eyes that can appreciate beauty. By nature sraddha propels one towards beauty, charm, and sweetness – specifically towards Krsna, the Absolute Reality. Sraddha can only be for krsnanusandhana – the search for Sri Krsna. It can be said that when the hazy conception of brahma-jijnasa takes a definite shape, it is krsnanusandhana. It is our greatest fortune that in this age Sri Nityananda Prabhu who is none other than Sri Baladeva, is calling people of faith (sraddha-van jana he), “Take the Name of Krsna, search for your greatest treasure in Sri Krsna. What have you got to lose?”
Srila Sridhara Maharaja says krsnanusandhana is the ripe fruit of the Vedas – the plane of Srimad Bhagavatam. The Vedas are branched in many directions that cater to the spiritual progress of seekers at different levels. Much of the Vedas deal with karma-kanda that prescribe many rituals that award higher births, wealth, power, and lead to material enjoyment. People that follow karma-kanda are essentially selfish and, as per Bhagavad-gita, they do not attain the resolve to fix their minds on the Supreme Lord until they are shaken by the character of an unalloyed devotee of Krsna endowed with sraddha. We find in the earthly pastimes of Sri Krsna that the yajna-patnis were most intensely attracted to Krsna simply by hearing about His qualities, whereas, their husbands did not even recognize Him even when He was at their doorsteps. The ritualistic brahmanas were more interested in calculations and rituals prescribed in the Vedas. But the attraction of the yajna-patnis was such that they rushed out to meet Krsna and Balarama without considering their status within varnasrama as the wives of brahmanas, or their duties towards their husbands. They would even give up their lives when thwarted in their attempt to meet Krsna. Kunti-devi says, bhavato‘darsanam yarhi hrsikanam ivesituh – “On not being able to see You, the senses wither away.” Such is the fire of krsnanusandhana that it devours all the charms of mortal existence.
We have heard expressions from devotees that they are ready to accept millions of births, if after that they are assured to have the mercy of Krsna. We have also heard devotees curse their own selves to take millions of births when there is a slightest error on their part in serving their guru. One wonders – what has happened to the value of mortal existence? The life that we are trying to hold on to, so desperately, seems only like a tool to achieve death of our present selves. Die to live – each death is a death of our selfish being and a birth of fresh dedication to Krsna. By embracing death in this way, the fear of death is subdued and thereby the greatest calamity of life is defeated. What then have we got to lose?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja says that externally we need not move mountains or oppose river currents in the form of long periods of penance, elaborate yajnas, grand Deity worship, astanga-yoga, or any physically taxing vows, to reach the Absolute Truth. Only the divine sound of the Holy Name is sufficient in all respects when taken with true humility. Although, he says, internally we will have to cross many oceans and planets in the form of different layers of ego to reach the true plane of humility. When we take a step towards sadhu-sanga and accept a guru, we begin our internal journey towards true humility. Even though there is no necessity to move mountains or oppose river currents, we will do all those things if it pleases our guru, and thereby make progress internally. Bhakti, paresanubhava and viraktir – devotion, transcendental experience of the Lord, and detachment from things not related to Krsna happen simultaneously for the one who finds true humility in wholehearted surrender to one’s guru (prapadyamanasya). The guru inspires us to search for Sri Krsna and teaches us the secrets of devotional service. More than anything else, he shows us our aspiration, our ultimate engagement in the service of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna.
In one of his lectures, Srila Guru Maharaja says that our aspiration is to become a madman. We find the same feeling in the songs of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Should we accept millions of births just to become a madman? On the contrary, even a million births is not enough to repay our guru for giving us this aspiration. To be madly in love with Krsna is no small achievement. For the worldly-minded majority, anything that does not conform to worldliness is abnormal. For the sober, worldliness is a disease. The followers of Mahaprabhu are the best amongst the sober because, not only do they conquer worldliness, but just by diving into the depths of humility they reach the zenith of spiritual realisation and make Krsna their own. Still, when the highest goal of human life is to become a madman, what have we got to lose?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja teaches us that in the line of Mahaprabhu, intense humility and separation and the highest aspiration go hand in hand. This is very exclusive to the line of Mahaprabhu beginning with Sri Madhavendra Puri. The gopis, although being the most favored by Krsna, talk of themselves as just being ordinary women, fallen in the deep well of household affairs (geham jusam). They think that Krsna is the property of yogis and liberated souls. Yet, Uddhava, the most confidential and dear associate of Krsna, is wonderstruck by the intense feeling of the gopis. He thinks, “Fie, oh fie! My knowledge has become my greatest enemy; What should I do? Where can I find such a simple heart as that of the gopis? Even after a million births I will not succeed in achieving a fragment of the amount of love that the gopis have for Krsna. Let me just roll in the dust of their lotus feet and purify myself (asam aho carana renu jusam).” This is also our aspiration. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura gives us a vivid glimpse of our aspiration in the following prayer. The Thakura is alive in this contemplation and out of his causeless compassion towards us, he has gifted us this gem of a song:
kabe gaura-vane, suradhuni-tate
‘ha radhe ha kṛṣṇa’ bale
kandiya beda’ba, deha-sukha chadi’
When, oh when will I wander here and there, weeping under the shade of the trees and creepers along the banks of the celestial Ganga in Navadvipa? I will cry out, “O Radhe! O Krsna!” and I will completely forget about all the so-called pleasures of this material body.
sva-paca-grhete, magiya khaiba
puline puline, gada-gadi diba
When will I be able to live so simply by begging some food from the homes of the untouchables who live here and there? I will drink the water of the Sarasvati, and in ecstasy I will roll to and fro on the banks of the river, raising a loud uproar of “Krsna! Krsna!”
dhama-vasi jane, pranati kariya
magiba krpara lesa
vaisnava-carana reṇu gaya makhi
When will I bow down to all the inhabitants of the holy land of Navadvipa and receive a bit of their causeless mercy? I will smear the dust of the Vaisnavas’ lotus feet all over my body, and I will wear the dress of a mad wandering mendicant.
gauda-vraja-vane, bheda na dekhiba
dhamera svarupa, sphuribe nayane
haiba radhara dasi
When I factually observe that the transcendental land of Navadvipa is non different from Sri Vraja-bhumi, then I shall be transformed into a Vraja-vasi also. Then I will see the true form of the transcendental realm opening up before my very eyes, and I will thus become one of the maidservants of Srimati Radharani.
I’ll keep this article short – not only out of courtesy towards the reader, but also because the topic that I speak of may become too high for my small mouth. Krsna is infinite, therefore the topics related to Him are also infinite and infinitely sweet. However, it is beyond my diseased state to have a taste for even a fragment of it. And yet, my Gurudeva, the most competent representative of the purest line of Mahaprabhu, has shown us this aspiration out of his causeless mercy. This is our saving grace. Otherwise, what have we got to los