Srila Gurudeva (The Supreme Treasure)

by Swami Bhaktivedanta Madhava Maharaja | 2010 | 179,005 words

This page relates ‘Worship of the Demigods’ of the book dealing with life and teachings of Srila Gurudeva, otherwise known as Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. Srila Gurudeva is a learned and scholar whose teachings primarily concern the spiritual beauties of Bhakti—devotional service and the qualities and pastimes of Shri Krishna.

Śrīla Gurudeva said, “We are supposed to worship and serve many demigods and others, so won’t they be angry if we serve only Bhagavān?”

Śrīpāda Narottamānanda Prabhu then quoted one śloka from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.31.14):

यथा तरोर् मूल-निषेचनेन तृप्यन्ति तत्-स्कन्ध-भुजोपशाखाः
प्राणोपहाराच् च यथेन्द्रियाणां तथैव सर्वार्हणम् अच्युतेज्या

yathā taror mūla-niṣecanena tṛpyanti tat-skandha-bhujopaśākhāḥ
prāṇopahārāc ca yathendriyāṇāṃ tathaiva sarvārhaṇam acyutejyā

By watering the root of a tree, all its parts, such as the trunk, branches, and sub-branches are nourished; and by satisfying the life-airs through eating, all the senses are nourished. Similarly, only by worshipping Śrī Kṛṣṇa are the demigods, forefathers and so forth worshipped.

Śrīman Narottamānanda further explained, “When one waters the root of a tree, it nourishes not only the root, but also the trunk, the stems, the leaves, the fruits. All the parts of the tree are nourished. When the stomach is fed, your whole body is nourished. Similarly, since Śrī Bhagavān is the root cause of all existence, if you exclusively worship Bhagavān, all the demigods and the rest are worshipped. everything is dependent on Him and without Him, nothing can exist. He is Acyuta, always the infallible Lord, and unlike us, he can never become fallible and succumb to the illusory world of māyā. One may think that there is no harm in worshipping others such as forefathers or demigods, as they are all part and parcel of God. Yes, we don’t disrespect anyone, but ordinary personalities are not transcendental like Bhagavān, nor are they on the same level. They are ruled and controlled by the material qualities, and the results of worshipping them are limited and temporary. Bhajana of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is like watering the root of a tree–the forefathers, demigods and everyone else are automatically satisfied by such worship. One who sticks to the path of śrī-kṛṣṇa-bhajana under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master is glorious, and he gradually comes to the perfection of love of God. In contrast, one who leaves this path is like a man who leaves a respectable and chaste wife to live with a prostitute, or one who drinks poison.

“Narottamānanda Prabhu continued:

जीव-राशिभिर् आकीर्ण अण्ड-कोशाङ्घ्रिपो महान्
तन्-मूलत्वाद् अच्युतेज्या सर्व-जीवात्म-तर्पणम्

jīva-rāśibhir ākīrṇa aṇḍa-kośāṅghripo mahān
tan-mūlatvād acyutejyā sarva-jīvātma-tarpaṇam

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.14.36)

This universe full of living entities is like a tree whose root is the infallible Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, one can satisfy all living entities simply by worshipping Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

“Do you know the nature of this material world?” To answer his own question, Narottamānanda Prabhu quoted a verse from ŚrīmadBhāgavatam (7.9.28):

एवं जनं निपतितं प्रभवाहि-कूपे
कामाभिकामम् अनु यः प्रपतन् प्रसङ्गात्
कृत्वात्मसात् सुरर्षिणा भगवन् गृहीतः
सोऽहं कथां नु विसृजे तव भृत्य-सेवाम्

evaṃ janaṃ nipatitaṃ prabhavāhi-kūpe
kāmābhikāmam anu yaḥ prapatan prasaṅgāt
kṛtvātmasāt surarṣiṇā bhagavan gṛhītaḥ
so'haṃ kathāṃ nu visṛje tava bhṛtya-sevām

O Supreme Lord, like people in general, I was falling into a well full of serpents, because of my association with material desires. But the great saint Nārada Ṛṣi kindly accepted me as his disciple and instructed me how to achieve transcendence. How then, can I ever give up his service?

Śrīla Gurudeva did not answer, for he was deeply pondering Narottamānanda Prabhu’s scriptural quotes. “What turn should I take in life from here?” he thought. “I am an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa. My ultimate duty is to serve Him. Serving Kṛṣṇa means giving up material attachments to family life and to family members. How can I do this? It is not such an easy task, but I must do it sooner or later.”

Narottamānanda Prabhu asked him, “What kind of person is entangled in household life in this material world? What is their destination? What is their experience? Do you know?”

“Please kindly tell me.”

Narottamānanda Prabhu quoted again from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.9.45):

यन् मैथुनादि-गृहमेधि-सुखं हि तुच्छं
कण्डूयनेन करयोर् इव दुःख-दुःखम्
तृप्यन्ति नेह कृपणा बहु-दुःख-भाजः
कण्डूतिवन् मनसिजं विषहेत धीरः

yan maithunādi-gṛhamedhi-sukhaṃ hi tucchaṃ
kaṇḍūyanena karayor iva duḥkha-duḥkham
tṛpyanti neha kṛpaṇā bahu-duḥkha-bhājaḥ
kaṇḍūtivan manasijaṃ viṣaheta dhīraḥ

Sex life is like the rubbing of two hands to relieve an itch. Householders who are entrapped in sense enjoyment think that this itching is the highest type of happiness, although it is actually simply a source of misery. Such fools are never satisfied by repeated sense enjoyment. One who is sober can tolerate this itch, knowing that it is simply a product of the mind.

Śrīpada Narottamānanda Prabhu continued, “Do you know that in this material world, Bhagavān is not in the centre? The wife is the centre. She controls everyone in household life. Do you know the nature of a woman?”

Śrīla Gurudeva was silent.

Narottamānanda Prabhu then quoted four verses about the cunning and selfish nature of non-Vaiṣṇavī women. Of course, similar things could be said of non-Vaiṣṇava men. Those who are attracted to the opposite sex, and who identify with the body–whether it be male or female–are entrapped in illusion, and consequently they are subjected to so much pain and suffering in this material world. These statements have nothing to do with the pure nature of devotee women who are faultless in their character.

The four ślokas Śrīman Narottamānanda quoted are:

स्त्रियो ह्य् अकरुणाः क्रूरा दुर्मर्षाः प्रिय-साहसाः
घ्नन्त्य् अल्पार्थेऽपि विश्रब्धं पतिं भ्रातरम् अप्य् उत

striyo hy akaruṇāḥ krūrā durmarṣāḥ priya-sāhasāḥ
ghnanty alpārthe'pi viśrabdhaṃ patiṃ bhrātaram apy uta

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (9.14.37)

Women are merciless and cunning, and cannot tolerate even the slightest wrong. They can do anything for their own pleasure, and it is said that they are capable even of killing a faithful husband or brother.

विधायालीक-विश्रम्भम् अज्ञेषु त्यक्त-सौहृदाः
नवं नवम् अभीप्सन्त्यः पुंश्चल्यः स्वैर-वृत्तयः

vidhāyālīka-viśrambham ajñeṣu tyakta-sauhṛdāḥ
navaṃ navam abhīpsantyaḥ puṃścalyaḥ svaira-vṛttayaḥ

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (9.14.38)

Women are easily seduced by men. They give up the friendship of a man who is their well-wisher, and establish false friendships with fools. In this way, they continually seek new relationships, one after the other.

शरत्-पद्मोत्सवं वक्त्रं वचश् च श्रवणामृतम्
हृदयं क्षुर-धाराभं स्त्रीणां को वेद चेष्टितम्

śarat-padmotsavaṃ vaktraṃ vacaś ca śravaṇāmṛtam
hṛdayaṃ kṣura-dhārābhaṃ strīṇāṃ ko veda ceṣṭitam

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.18.41)

The face of a woman is as attractive as a blossoming lotus during autumn. Her words are sweet and give pleasure to the ear, but if we study a woman’s heart, we can understand that it is as sharp as a razor blade. Who then can understand the dealings of women?

न हि कश्चित् प्रियः स्त्रीणाम् अञ्जसा स्वाशिषात्मनाम्
पतिं पुत्रं भ्रातरं वा घ्नन्त्य् अर्थे घातयन्ति च

na hi kaścit priyaḥ strīṇām añjasā svāśiṣātmanām
patiṃ putraṃ bhrātaraṃ vā ghnanty arthe ghātayanti ca

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.18.42)

Women behave with men as if men are most dear to them, but actually no one is dear to them. To further their own ends, they can kill even their husbands, sons, or brothers, or cause them to be killed by others.

Hearing these statements, Śrīla Gurudeva became very much disturbed, and asked, “Why are you criticising women without any cause?”

“Oh, this is not my speech,” replied Narottamānanda Prabhu. “I am quoting from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. It is interesting to note that the first two verses I quoted were spoken by urvaśī, a woman of the heavenly planets, explaining the character of irrational, spiritually inept women.

“I am only explaining to you the nature of cunning, non-devotee women, as described in the śāstra. I myself respect ladies. I do not criticize them; rather, I praise them. I took birth from the womb of a woman; they have nourished me with their breast milk and brought me up. We should not be aggressive towards them or obsessive about them. How can I speak ill of them? No man should denigrate any woman. They should be respected and the aggressive male nature is to be seen as adverse.

“Ladies are mothers, sisters, and daughters. A lady who is your elder is to be respected as mother. A woman of your own age is to be seen as sister. A small girl is to be considered a daughter. This is the Vaiṣṇava conception.

Vaiṣṇavas always respect and protect women; they do not degrade them. We are not like those phalgu-vairāgīs who artificially renounce women, and at the same time are harsh towards Svayaṃ Bhagavān, His incarnations, and His devotees.

“Śrī Bhagavān has given so much honour to ladies! Bhagavān is the controller of everyone, but His mother Yaśodā was able to bind him due to her intense love. Kṛṣṇa would also dance for neighbouring mothers on the pretext of getting some broken laḍḍūs.

“Women’s hearts are very soft. The qualities of sacrifice and submission are clearly visible in them. The yajña-patnīs brought so many offerings on their heads for the pleasure of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa,

Śrī Balarāma, and Their cowherd friends. When their brahmin husbands heard this, they said, ‘Fie on us! Fie on us!” They thought that these women who were not well-versed in the Vedas, and who were impure once every month, were able to serve the Lord, whereas they, with all their vast learning and elaborate Vedic sacrifices, were unable to do so. As you well know, it was because of Śrī Sītā that Lord rāma built a bridge all the way to Lankā and demolished rāvaṇa’s city, his army, and his whole dynasty. Kṛṣṇa supplied unlimited cloth to Draupadi when she was being disrobed and it was because of her that the five Pāṇḍavas killed the hundred brothers of the Kuru dynasty.

“We never insult women; rather we respect them. If they are qualified, we consult with them. Gangāmātā Gosvāminī initiated the King of Orissa and so many of his ministers. Śrī Jāhnavā devī, the pleasure potency of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, installed six Deities in east Bengal (now Bangladesh) when humbly requested by Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, one of the previous ācāryas in our Gauḍīya paramparā. Śrīla Narottama Ṭhākura prayed again and again at her lotus feet. As for Śrīmatī rādhārānī, I can never say enough. Our highest aspiration is to be eternally engaged in Her service. To make Her pleased; even Kṛṣṇa would bow down to Her lotus feet and offer His inseparable flute to Her.

“From these examples, O gentle one, you can see how Vaiṣṇavas should always respect ladies and give them the honour they deserve.”

Śrīla Gurudeva became very happy hearing all these things and to this day he is endlessly glorifying the Lord and especially Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s hlādinī potency, Śrīmatī rādhikā and Her sakhīs.

The author summerizes these teachings of Sriman Narottamānanda Prabhu, that a Vaiṣṇava is:

praiser of women, not criticizer
protector of women, not destroyer
consulter of women, not insulter
submissive, but never aggressive
.

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