A selection of excerpts from the books of
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Srila Jiva Goswami
Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam
by Srila B.R. Sridhar Maharaj
Devotee: What is the meaning of the book title 'Sri-Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam'?
Srila Guru Maharaj: The title Sri-Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam means, prapannanam, jivane, amrta-svarupam, "The nectar in the life of the surrendered souls." This was my conception from the beginning - prapanna-jivanamrta - that those who have come to take this, to feel it, this will be like nectar to them. To those who have surrendered, it will be nectar to them, but others, the ordinary people, may not appreciate it.
It will be the nectar in the life of those who have surrendered, those who have the real adhikara, the proper qualified standard of faith to receive it. Srila Jiva Goswami wrote, "Those who have faith in the Veda, in Srimad-Bhagavatam and such things, they are to read this book; otherwise, I put a curse, that those who do not have such faith should not come to read my book." Jiva Goswami has written in such a way: "You unbelievers won't come to touch my book. You who are unbelievers, it is not meant for you! It is only for those who have faith in such things. Others are discarded. You, the ordinary public are discarded. You must not touch my book because you will misunderstand it."
So Krsna's divine movements are kept in reserve by His sweet will: "All Rights Reserved." We want to search for some law above His sweet will, but this is inconsistent. It is self-contradictory. On the one side we say that Krsna moves by His own sweet will, but on another side we try to find some law governing His movement. This is a contradiction. Lila moves by sweet will. When we say it is lila, then we can't give any shape to that. We can say that it was shown in a particular place in a particular way. But we cannot be sure whether today the same course will be taken.
This is why we find differences in the explanations given about different lilas in different ages. Jiva Goswami has explained that the reason for different descriptions of the pastimes of the Lord in the Puranas is because at one time that lila was played in one way, and another time it was played in another way. So we find differences even in the explanations of the same pastime.
Scholars may challenge: "Why is it that somewhere in Padma Purana the lila is mentioned in this way, but the Bhagavata Purana reveals the description in another way? Why does Harivamsa differ from Mahabharata?" We say that in different kalpas, or ages, the pastimes are enacted in different ways. In infinite ways a particular lila of the Lord may be represented within this world, because He is infinite, independent, and absolute. So leaving aside all doubts and suspicions, we shall be most generous in approaching the absolute, free from all inhibitions. We shall approach Him with that spirit, and try more and more to leave aside our past prejudices and precedents, the records of our past experience.
Devotee: I have heard that some Acaryas hold that smarana , internal remembrance, is of prime importance as a devotional service to the Lord, above even kirtana or chanting; or is it subservient to kirtana?
Srila Guru Maharaj: There are some who are of that opinion because smarana is exclusively connected with consciousness, or more concerned with the subtle part of our existence; so that should be the most effective form of sadhana , or means to the end. But our Guru Maharaj, and Srila Jiva Goswami, and also Kaviraja Goswami Prabhu, laid stress on kirtana - especially for the beginners. Guru Maharaj says in his song Vaisnava ke? ('Who is a Vaisnava?'):
kirtana prabhave, smarana haibe,
se kale bhajana nirjjana sambhava
"Internal remembrance can occur by the power of kirtana, and only then is solitary Service possible." Nirjjana-bhajana or smarana, exclusive solitary Devotion unconscious of the environment is not at all possible for beginners. And Srila Jiva Goswami says ( Bhakti-sandarbha, sankhya 273):
yadyapy anya bhaktih kalau karttavya,
"In this Kali-yuga, of the nine basic forms of Devotional Practices, the forms other than kirtana certainly should be practiced, but they must be conducted subserviently to kirtana ." And this is the principle of Mahaprabhu's preaching. Kirtana has its own special characteristic, particularly in Kali-yuga.
If we are to understand the effect of someone's chanting of the holy name, we must examine his underlying purpose. Sometimes his chanting may have some effect, but not always. Still, Jiva Goswami mentions the following example as evidence that the holy name may have some effect even if one is unaware of its full meaning. Once, a wild boar attacked a Mohammedan, and the Mohammedan cried, "Harama! Harama!" Harama means "that abominable hog!" On the other hand, Ha Rama means "the Lord," who has allowed a hog to attack me. Somehow, Lord Rama was invoked, and the holy name had a divine influence on the Mohammedan, who attained liberation.
At that time when going through the books of Jiva Goswami I found he had written that those who have money but do not spend it for the Lord, they commit vitta-sathya. Similarly those who have some knowledge and experience about bhakti, about Krsna and the devotees, but do not like to help others, they commit jnana-sathya. At the same time I had in my memory from my early days a story from the Puranas where it is mentioned that a particular brahmana was a big scholar but he gave no education or help to anyone. As a result, in his next life he received the body of a mango tree which bore many beautiful fruits, but not even a single bird would touch them. Then one day Anantadeva noticed the tree while on his way to see God. When he enquired about it, the Lord replied, "He was a great pandit but he did not instruct or give his share of learning to anybody. He was so miserly in his scholarship that in his next birth he was put in such a position as this tree."
Jiva Goswami has given the essential meaning of Bhagavan in his Bhakti-Sandarbha. He says, bhagavan bhajaniya-sarva-sad-guna visistha. By Bhagavan, he describes this aspect of infinite: bhajaniya, worshipable. When we come in touch with Him, then we want to surrender ourselves for His satisfaction - that type of infinite. There are various types of infinite. The highest conception of the infinite is bhajaniya guna visistha: He is so beautiful and attractive that He is attracting all to surrender to Him. No other conception of the infinite, neither infinite space, nor time, nor anything else can approach this highest conception of the infinite: the all-attractive infinite. All the other aspects of the infinite - infinite time, infinite space, infinite power - are external. But infinite love which attracts love and self- surrender is the highest type of infinite. And that is Krsna.
Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhu has given a beautiful definition of the word 'Bhagavan': bhajaniya sarva-sad-guna-visista - "The Supreme Lord, Bhagavan is of such a nature that everyone who comes in contact with Him will want to serve Him and to sacrifice themselves for His satisfaction." This is the result of faith in its developed form. He is so noble, we shall think that if we die to satisfy Him, our life's objective will be fulfilled. His noble quality is such that it draws so much sacrificing spirit for Him; it draws everything towards Him. "Die to live." Faith is such.