Serving Krishna "Like That"
Posted February 27, 2008
In the recent article by Tungbidya, there are some interesting references, such as:
In other words, if upon hearing of the sweet dealings between Sri Krishna and His parikaras (associates) in Braj, a person wishes to one day serve Krishna like that also, and with that inspiration and aim they begin their sadhana bhakti, they are a raganuga sadhaka. However, if upon hearing from scripture that one will suffer miseries or go to Hell if they do not worship Krishna, and on account of fear of Hell or a desire to end suffering and achieve bliss, that person commences their sadhana-bhakti, then they can be called a "vaidhi-bhakti-sadhaka".
I thank her for this reference, and would like to focus on the phrase "serve Krishna like that also", as that was the whole point of my article, specifically how to serve Krishna "like that" or in other words like the residents of Vrindavan, who put aside the strict vedic rules and regulations when it was necessary to do so, in order to love Him. This verse is confirmation that it is fear of suffering that distinguishes the vaidhi sadhaka from the raganuga. The suffering that may come from breaking the rules, may be experienced in this life through social condemnation, or in a future life through hellish punishment, but in either case the raganuga cares not. Motivation is the key factor here.
Now she gives two apparently contradictory references.
What do we care for all these holy scriptures,or the wise illuminating paths described in them and followed by so many evolved pious souls!
When both of the previously mentioned types of devotees...become fervently curious about the means for achieving the bhav of Sri Krishna's associates, then they depend on SHASTRA and the favorable systems prescribed therein.
Here she has emphasized the word shastra, but I would like to instead draw attention to the word "favorable" When shastric injunctions are favorable for devotional service, they should be accepted, but as such times when they become unfavorable, they should rejected. Doing so requires a huge amount of courage, as it very often means parting with what is acceptable among those who are very strict, religiously speaking. Lord Chaitanya had to do it, Bhaktisiddhanta had to do it, Jesus had to do it, Prabhupada had to do it, we also have to do it, at least at some point.
Lord Chaitanya was criticized and opposed for singing, for giving mantras to lower castes, and for honouring (impossibly) large quantities of prasadam so as to avoid offending his hosts. Bhatisiddhanta was slandered for travelling in vehicles, for initiating lower castes and for associating with rich people. Jesus was treated as a blasphemer by the rabbis, simply for preaching guru tattva. Prabhupada broke many rules, from keeping his vegetables in an unclean refrigerator to associating with materialists, to even, as discussed before, instructing his disciple to eat meat if necessary, in order to break the stranglehold of Russian atheism. Thus we have a lineage of rule breakers and we glorify them for that. The brahman who was meditating on cooking sweet rice for the Lord, to test the temperature, put his finger in it. Did the Lord say "OOH, your muchi fingernail touched it before offering! How can I accept it?"? If that brahmana had focused on rules, even in his mind, he would not have done such a thing. Instead his focus was Krishna's pleasure.
Last but not least, there is the example of the famously infamous rule breakers, the gopis, who bore the burden of the incessant torrent of sharp criticism and snide remarks from their relatives. Love sometimes necessitates breaking away from scriptural and societal norms. Are we a society that is learning to see people according to their motives- to go behind the actions, or do we simply judge according to external rigidity? To the extent that we ignore this question, to that extent we will stay deeply rooted in vaidhi sadhana. Furthermore, due to inability to recognize who is actually advanced, it may not be only vaidhi bhakti that we cannot go beyond, but the modes of material nature!... Quoting again from Tungbidya's quotes:
O Vishnu, the experts in bhakti say that we can attain You by applying our intelligence to take proper association. By this, we will overcome the 3 modes of nature and thus progress gradually in bhakti.
How one takes proper association is described here- through the intelligence- for it is obvious that if we don't, we we will always be mistaken and swindled by the modes of nature as represented by pretenders. By studying shastra and the lives of our recent acaryas, we can- intelligently- extract what is that essence of bhakti that is present in all great devotees of the Lord, as indicated by their pastimes, and learn to use our knowledge of that essence to recognize it in other people and to cultivate it ourselves. The associates of both Lords- Krishna and Chaitanya- externally differed widely, in their birth and social status, in their occupations and ashramas and in their personality types. They differed widely, also, in their ways of serving the Lord. Through study of their character however, it is clear that they had one thing in common- love. Since love for Krishna encompasses all His creation, it requires that behavior beyond the precincts of the temple is at least as important as behavior within the temple, which may just be for show.
How we extend our concern for others, is shown by the example of a young
girl in Vrindavan who has recently very tragically been taken away from this
world. As a child in Vrindavan, Lila used to take care of the suffering dogs
there, breaking all the local rules of shunning them or, in some cases,
showing cruelty by kicking them. It is especially tragic to lose such a kind
and gentle soul. I'm sure she has the blessings of the Lord for her kindness
and compassion to all living entities, and that she is on the way to
raganuga bhakti, if not there already. My heartfelt condolences to all who
knew and loved her.