Devotee: I know that at present I am a conditioned soul and am in maya, but it is said that I have an eternal relationship with Krishna. So, is it that I will only know that relationship when I become purified?

Srila Guru Maharaj: Yes, when the mist will be cleared, the sun will shine in its full pristine glory. The mist of misunderstanding, in the form of anyabhilas, karma, jnan, etc. is a covering. As that covering is gradually dissolved, the internal relationship will appear.

Devotee: Is this eternal relationship always the same or can it be changed, such as from vatsalya, parental loving affection, to madhura, conjugal love, or from madhura to dasya, servitude?

Srila Guru Maharaj: That will be known gradually. When the barrier, the cover, will be cleared, it will become revealed. That separating wall will gradually fade, and as it becomes thinner and thinner, the relationship will be conceived. It is a gradual process and at first will be vague. When we will come to the stage of bhava-bhakti, heart’s devotion, then it will come within our understanding somewhat and gradually will become clearer.

There are various stages leading to bhava: anartha-nivrtti, nistha, ruchi, asakti, then bhava. When devotion will reach the stage of bhava, then of course that eternal relationship will appear to a certain extent in a vague way. Then, by a gradual process, the definite identification, the particular quality of attraction one will feel for Krishna, will become clear. The attraction, the connection between the two, is intervened by the foreign propensities of anyabhilas, karma, jnan, etc. As that barrier becomes thinner, the nature of rasa as well as its depth and intensity will gradually be disclosed. It is not vague or a product of the imagination but it is more clear than the sun.

Devotee: When the Guru is here, he engages us for something that Krishna wants. But in the absence of our Guru, we may do some devotional service according to our own initiative. How do we know whether Krishna actually wants that particular activity from us?

Srila Guru Maharaj: Preferably, we shall enquire from a Siksa-guru, but if none is available, then we shall try to ask our internal Guru:

«In such a case what may be required of me? My master, please reveal this.» We shall have to make this appeal to our internal Chaittya-guru and proceed accordingly. Na hi kalyana-krt kaschid durgatim tata gachchhati (Bg: 6.40): the sincere will have nothing about which to repent. He who is sincere to his own self will have such dictation as will help him to progress in his spiritual life. He will ask his master within, «In such a case, what should please my Gurudev? I shall do that. As much as I can understand and feel, I shall do.» This sincere, internal approach will be the last resort, but if any outside Siksa-gurus are available, we must consult with them.

Devotee: Sometimes Siksa-gurus have differences of opinions.

Srila Guru Maharaj: In that case also, we are to appeal to our own inner Guru, «Please suggest to me which advice I should follow. Please give me some internal suggestion; otherwise, what can I do?» If any difference of opinion should come from the outside guides, then in every case we are to make this appeal to our own conscience and follow that dictation from within. If possible, we shall go to another recognised Siksa-guru whom we can consult regarding these differences of opinion. But if there also we fail, then we must appeal to our internal Guru. There is no other alternative.

Devotee: I may ask the Chaittya-guru, the Guru within my heart, but how shall I know whether the response is coming from the Guru or only from my mind?

Srila Guru Maharaj: That will be according to our own realised position. It may not be clear always, but we have no other alternative. Ultimately, it is up to our inner judge to decide: «I came to my Gurudev, but my inner selection took me there. How did I leave my previous environment and come to my Gurudev? My internal guide helped me to accept this person as Guru, so I cannot neglect that guide within me.» If my dictator within has taken me to a true Guru, then he is not a traitor, so we can consult with him as a reliable friend.

Devotee: We are just neophyte devotees and so do not feel so pure as to be able to communicate with the Chaittya-guru.

Srila Guru Maharaj: It is so, and therefore it will be better, safer, more helpful, and easier if it is possible for us to secure a Siksa-guru. But in an extreme case when that is not possible, then we are to appeal fervently to our own Guru within, the Chaittya-guru.

Also my own divine master may be living, but if I am posted for duty in a far away place and some urgent decision is required, then what shall I do? If an immediate decision is required and there is no time to receive my master’s order, I may appeal to my inner Guru, and I shall do that which I consider my Guru will be pleased to accept. I shall take up my duty and work with the assertion, «This will please my Gurudev.»

It is mentioned that one who has surrendered may not commit any offence. If you are surrendered and then appeal, «What am I to do, my master? Please dictate to me», and do accordingly with sincerity, then if it is wrong also, you are not to be a party to that wrong because you did not consciously want to disobey the Guru — you tried your utmost to obey him cent-per-cent. But you are not a perfect person, still, from your position, as much as possible, you have done, and he will be satisfied with that. He is all-knowing. He is omniscient and will see, «He has tried his best.»

So, from our position, we shall try our best, and we will be rewarded accordingly. But we must be cautious that within us there may not be any insincerity, duplicity, or hypocrisy, for such things are self-suicidal. Na hi kalyana-krt kaschid durgatim tata gachchhati (Bg: 6.40): one who is sincerely trying for the good is never to be deceived. In whatever plane we may live, we must be true to our own self, to our own conscience. To our own capacity, we must be true to that plane, and when we rise higher, we must consider and follow the faith of our new plane. We must not be insincere.

The dictation of Sri Guru is also similar in that he gives us some order according to our stage of spiritual development. To one who is in a lower stage, he will give a particular order, to one in a higher stage, he will give another order, and one higher still will be given yet another. He will give us orders according to our capacity, stage, and nature; otherwise, it will be impossible for us to progress. So, according to our stage, our duty should be attached, and the results expected accordingly; a man who has the capacity to lift a weight of ten kilograms will not be instructed to lift a hundred.

Devotee: Sometimes we feel we have sincerity, but later we realise that the sincerity we had was only superficial.

Srila Guru Maharaj: Of course it may be possible in all cases to feel in this way. We are to be dealt with according to our stage. A boy should be given the standard of examination of a boy, not of a grown-up man. The questions in a boys’ examination will be of a different standard than those for the adults. Gradually, we will be taken to the higher standard. Paroksa-vado Vedo ’yam balanam anusasanam (SB: 11.3.44). Just as a child is guided with some modified policy; similarly, that sort of process has been adopted in dealing with ourselves.

Devotee: What should we do if sometimes the Guru should engage us in service above our capacity or ability to perform?

Srila Guru Maharaj: If you think that the particular duty is beyond your capacity, you will simply inform Gurudev, «It is very difficult for me to do, and I do not think myself to be fit to efficiently discharge this sort of duty. If I tell you this doubt in my mind, then you may wish to appoint some other service.» But if he still says, «No, you are to do this», then you will do as best you can. If you have faith, considering him to be a real Guru, then you can attempt to do that duty the best you can. You must consider that he has some super-motive, that some higher purpose will be served by engaging you in such activity.

Devotee: This Krishna consciousness is very, very beautiful. The cult of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is very sweet. Many people become attracted by Krishna and by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, but why after some time do we find that some devotees lose their faith and go away?

Srila Guru Maharaj: The first thing it depends on is the intensity of the sukrti of the devotee. And secondly is, of course, his free will, his independence. The circumstances will also have their effect. Every action is the combined result of several factors. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita, we find:

panchaitani maha-baho karanani nibodha me
sankhye krtante proktani siddhaye sarva-karmanam
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.13)

If we analyse any one event, we will find that it is the combination of different forces from different quarters. So generally, we can consider that the devotee’s situation will depend on his previous initial merit, his present free will, the environment, and the mercy of the Lord. His free will may cause him to commit Vaisnava-aparadh. And his previous merit, sukrti, will tend to keep him floating at the standard he previously acquired. By his free will, he may commit offences. Also, there is the free will of the environment: the surrounding paraphernalia may grant him their mercy. There are many contributory factors.

Devotee: One of your godbrothers told me that we are chanting Hare Rama in the mahamantra, but we are not supposed to pronounce ‘Rama’. He said this is not suddha, pure, but we should say ‘Ram’. Is this correct?

Srila Guru Maharaj: ‘Rama’ is the true pronunciation, but if one says ‘Ram’, that does not mean it has no value; it will have some effect. The internal feeling underlying the sound is more important than the pronunciation. One may say Krishna, Kanai, or so many names, but it depends mainly on the bhava, the internal realisation and feeling of the meaning of the word. A child has a particular registered name. His mother may call him by a sound not fully according to that word’s pronunciation, but that does not detract anything. Her affection is all-in-all. If a mother calls her child by a name, the name may not be pronounced in the perfectly correct way, but the affection behind her calling his name is more valuable. So, whether we say ‘Rama’ or ‘Ram’ may not be considered to be very important. The internal feeling with which the Name is taken is of much greater relevance.

Devotee: Sometimes we introduce the mahamantra to new persons who have no idea or feeling about what or who is Rama and who is Krishna. How should they pronounce the name Rama?

Srila Guru Maharaj: Naturally, they should chant ‘Rama’, not ‘Ram’, for that is the real pronunciation. If one pronounces it as ‘Ram’, that does not mean that the whole thing is spoiled, but ‘Rama’ is the grammatically correct pronunciation. Everything depends on the heart, the feeling, and the sincere dedication. The highest importance is your earnestness of surrender. The child may call his father by the name ‘Papa’ or by any disfigured sound, but that is overlooked. The inner earnestness is always to be reckoned.

Devotee: While introducing the chanting process to many new persons we find that, because of some previous idea, some do not like the Hare Krishna mahamantra. Can we tell them something else such as Govinda jaya jaya … ?

Srila Guru Maharaj: That depends upon their stage of devotion, and that is why you find a particular section will chant Govinda jaya jaya Govinda jaya jaya, but when asked to pronounce Hare Krishna, they show no enthusiasm.

Devotee: Our Guru Maharaj has instructed us to chant a minimum of sixteen rounds daily. We are neophyte devotees and sometimes don’t have so much attraction for chanting sixteen rounds. What can we do to become more attracted to chanting?

Srila Guru Maharaj: The most important thing is to engage in service. Service of the Name and service of the Guru–Vaisnava are almost equal, but still to a certain extent the basis must be the service of the Holy Name. Your Guru Maharaj introduced a daily minimum of sixteen rounds, and our Guru Maharaj instructed that we must chant at least four rounds per day on the mala, the rosary. But this is a minor difference because our Guru Maharaj wanted that we be very busily engaged in the various services, but we must see that the mala does not fast. Some sort of service must be done to her by way of chanting at least four rounds daily. That was his instruction, but he also instructed that when one had the opportunity, he could chant more and more.

The general standard set by Mahaprabhu was not only sixteen rounds, but four times sixteen which equals one lakh (100,000) Names. This is particularly so for one who is not within the body of an organised society and especially if he is living individually. When one is in an organised body, he always has orders from the superiors to do this and that, and thereby he engages in service; so the minimum quantity of chanting becomes a little relaxed from the sixty-four rounds. But in the case of grhasthas, householders living separately from the main body of devotees, they especially should chant one lakh of Names daily. That is the general standard recommended by Mahaprabhu and by our Guru Maharaj. But when one is in an organised body and is required to do service running here and there — sometimes he is so busy that he can’t even find any opportunity to sleep in the night — in that case, he will try to chant at least four rounds. He is so busily engaged that within twenty-four hours he is not taking any rest, but still he is required to chant a minimum of four rounds, whereas the general recommendation is that one who lives individually as a grhastha should chant at least one lakh of Names.

Mahaprabhu asked and advised us to purify ourselves with the help of divine sound. But the sound should be proper transcendental Krishna consciousness, and in this Kali-yuga, the age of controversy, there will be only the minimum demand from us for our purification. The word kali comes from kalaha, meaning ‘quarrel’, ‘controversy’. We are cautious about everything; everyone thinks, «No, I won’t accept anything without some proof.»

The mind is very suspicious, so we should take advantage of divine sound. Only the very minimum demand is necessary from us, yet the transformation which will occur in us will be very great. To have some sraddha, faith, is the minimum demand, the minimum admission fee required of us: «If I do this, if I attend to this sankirtan, the congregational chanting of the Holy Names of God, then everything will be done.» That underground faith must be there, and it will help us. That sincere cooperation from the heart is necessary for Krishna consciousness, and that can purify very quickly. To have faith that this process of Krishna consciousness will purify us is the minimum demand. One must think, «If I attain this, everything will be done.» If such a sort of generous, wide conviction is there within us along with a sincere mood of cooperation, then that can help us very quickly. That ‘cooperation’ means cooperation with the divine sound, the sound aspect of the Supreme. It is easily approachable for the beginners, and from that many other aspects of the Infinite will come to help us.

Beginning with the universal sound aspect, which is easily approachable, other aspects will follow in its retinue, gradually. But our faith must be heartfelt and sincere. «I am in difficulty, and this will give real relief to all my troubles. It will put an end to all the troubles I am experiencing now as well as any I am to experience in future. I am a bona fide student of searching my own real inner interest. I must be faithful to my own self. I feel that I am uneasy here in this world, and I must search for some home comfort. If I am sincere, I know that the way forward will be open to me, and that it is not difficult; it is there in the sound aspect of the Supreme. That greatest reality is Himself present also within the divine sound. This divine sound is not an imaginary thing even though to my present conception it is coming and going, appearing and disappearing. It is not a trifling, transient thing; it is the reality.» And for a beginner, that ear experience is a great thing. Sound carries things from far away, and the ear can catch them. The eye-experience is not able to see so far.

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