From Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir!
Date: February 13th, 2012
Topic: Instructions by Maharaj Prthu
Verse: SB 4.21.43
Speaker: HH Romapada Swami
tesam aham pada-saroja-renum arya vaheyadhi-kiritam ayuh yam nityada bibhrata asu papam nasyaty amum sarva-guna bhajanti
TRANSLATION: O respectable personalities present here, I beg the blessings of all of you that I may perpetually carry on my crown the dust of the lotus feet of such brahmanas and Vaisnavas until the end of my life. He who can carry such dust on his head is very soon relieved of all the reactions which arise from sinful life, and eventually he develops all good and desirable qualities.
PURPORT: It is said that one who has unflinching faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which means unflinching faith in the Vaisnava or the pure devotee of the Supreme Lord, develops all the good qualities of the demigods. Yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana/ sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah (SB 5.18.12). Prahlada Maharaja also said, naisam matis tavad urukramanghrim (SB 7.5.32). Unless one takes the dust of the lotus feet of a pure Vaisnava on one’s head, one cannot understand what the Supreme Personality of Godhead is, and unless one knows the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one’s life remains imperfect. A great soul who has fully surrendered to the Supreme Lord after understanding Him fully and after repeatedly undergoing austerities and penances for many, many lives is very rare. The crown of a king is simply a big load if the king or head of the state does not actually bear the dust of the lotus feet of brahmanas and Vaisnavas. In other words, if a liberal king like Prthu Maharaja does not follow the instructions of brahmanas and Vaisnavas or does not follow the brahminical culture, he is simply a burden on the state, for he cannot benefit the citizens. Maharaja Prthu is the perfect example of an ideal chief executive. [End of purport.]
HH Romapada Swami: In keeping with the theme of the ILS, the International Leadership Sanga, I was requested to speak on the character of a leader. I selected a verse which epitomizes the mood of a leader, namely the bearer of the will and the instructions of those more elevated than oneself.
Prithu Maharaja is an ideal example. He is an incarnation of the Lord, in the category of saktyavesa-avatar, a bearer of the fullness of the Lord’s personal potency for ruling, or palana-sakti. His life is a perfect example of empowered leadership.
In this verse Prithu Maharaja is giving the formula for becoming purified from the position of leadership, namely by taking the position of the humble servant and order carrier of the qualified brahmanas and vaisnavas.
In that purified condition, he also states that all good qualities will automatically in the course of time be manifest within that person. We know from chapter twelve of Bhagavad-gita how Krishna feels towards those who manifest very nice qualities. They are very dear to Him. And what can one desire beyond that – being very dear to Krishna? You come before Krishna and Krishna smiles! What could one want more than that?
This section of Canto Four is the acceptance speech of Prithu Maharaja, having just been anointed as the emperor of the world. He is now the new king, having been put into that position – the king of kings, the emperor of so many kings.
In the course of our International Leadership Sanga, the ILS, Badrinarayan Prabhu spoke about a paper that has been prepared over the course of several years by a GBC committee. The paper is called “Lines of Authority”. Within the paper is discussion regarding what does this term “authority” actually mean. Authority something being invested in some individual, enabling them to carry their responsible tasks. In spiritual circles authority is descending. Authority is something derived from a superior, wherein that authority is invested in another, a subordinate.
One very practical example comes to mind is the first formal GBC meeting held right here in Mayapur in 1975. Showing by example, our Founder- acarya Srila Prabhupada personally raised his hand to vote, as everybody else in the room raised their hand – our GBC members – each time votes were taken on topics discussed. The first resolution passed was to formally establish and describe the GBC. The statement goes something like this, paraphrased of course: “Srila Prabhupada is the founder-acarya of all of ISKCON. The GBC is to execute the will of Srila Prabhupada and they have no other purpose. They don’t derive their authority from any other source, and they they have no other purpose than executing this charge invested in them. Likewise, each GBC member derives their authority from the GBC Body, which in turn derives its authority from Srila Prabhupada.”
In spiritual circles, there is no authority other than that descending authority.
Here we find another example of what spiritual authority is – empowerment which is descending. Here is Prthu Maharaja. He is a saktyavesa-avatara, he is an incarnation of God! But he is teaching by example: now, having received the authority of king, he sees the authority invested in him as a descending type of authority — an authority derived from pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which is the result of pleasing those who are more eminently qualified than him, the brahmanas and the Vaisnavas. Again, let us remember who is Prithu Maharaja. He is an incarnation of God. But he is showing the world what a real leader is, by his example.
In addition to showing by example, King Prithu is also instructing his citizens in detail how they also can similarly demonstrate respect to the highly qualified brahmanas and vaisnavas. Enlightening ones dependants is another duty of an authority figure – to educate, to give clear guidelines and instructions and understandings why certain things are to be done, on the strength of scripture. Prithu Maharaja is describing why this is so important to all his dear citizens, immediately upon receiving his position. “Here’s how it is done. This is to be done.” And then he showed by example
– “This is my position. I take the dust from the feet of these most qualified souls not just as another ornament because I already have this nice crown – just see my nice big crown! But the crown is just a burden unless it is blessed by the merciful dust from exhaulted soul’s feet.” The authority invested in a king or anyone else who may have some authority somewhere, doing something, that authority is simply a burden if it is not deployed in the service of qualified superiors, seeking their favor, their blessings, their happiness, striving to be a follower – just as Prabhupada was saying in the purport, following the instructions of those who are eminently qualified, the Brahmans and the Vaisnavas. That is the qualification of receiving and then properly discharging of authority to do whatever needs to be done in our practical lives in Krishna consciousness.
I would like to again make reference to the ‘Lines of Authority’ paper. I just finished reading it again. It is very nicely written. There is both spiritual and managerial authority, not to say that managerial authority is not spiritual. Managerial authority in Krishna consciousness – when one is in Krishna consciousness, executing some authorized responsible servive, one is doing so by way of receiving such authority. Managing spiritual activities is also spiritual but it is of a different type. It is managerial. Then there is spiritual authority.
Here is a very beautiful example of respecting, receiving and manifesting spiritual authority. There is a very nice verse wherein Raghunath Dasa Goswami speaks of his submission to Rupa Goswami. It is found in Danakeli Cinatami, as well as in the sacred place in Vrndavan called Ter Kadamba, just above the altar.
adadanas trnam dantair idam yace punah punah srimad-rupa-padambhuja rajo’ham syam bhave bhave
In this verse our most exhaulted prayojana-guru Raghunath Dasa Goswami is humbly begging again and again, with a straw within his teeth, to receive a particle of dust from the feet of Rupa Goswami, life after life. Raghunath Dasa Goswami’s ardent prayer is simply to carry that dust on his head, to humbly serve the will and the personality of Rupa Goswami.
This is how to receive spiritual authority. Such a mood makes ones heart crystal clear and pure. In this way, spiritual authority is manifest.
Prithu Maharaja similarly speaks in today’s verse about the mood needed to receive managerial authority, in precisely the same type of language as expressed by Raghunath Dasa Goswami.
In the previous verse Prithu Maharaja speaks about the purity which results from such submission. He uses the metaphor of a clean mirror. The metaphor is that when there is a clean mirror then you can see you face. If there isn’t a clean mirror you will see something else. You see a distortion. You see something, but it is a distortion. One can’t even see oneself. How to make the dirty mirror clean? By honoring the qualified brahmanas and vaisnavas.
If one cannot even see one’s self, how can one understand the duties one has to execute and the persons who are to be pleased by one’s service? Clear instructions come from qualified instructors.
In our International Society for Krishna Consciousness our primary siksa guru is Srila Prabhupada. His instructions are very clear and we place them upon our head and bring them within our heart. – srnvanti gayanti grnanti sadhavah [SB 1.5.11] We hear them, we speak them and we bring them into our heart. His instructions guides our life. Our life becomes carrying out our founder-acarya’s instructions.
That is how you get the dust.
It doesn’t mean when you offer flowers to Prabhupada you can’t touch his feet and that is a no, no. You can do that and that is important; but minus carrying out the instructions, in a literal sense, in a practical sense, in a from-the-heart sense – such gestures remain incomplete. They become reduced to a ritual. Without the essence, submission, the ritual doesn’t carry you to the intended place. The mission and the message of Srila Prabhupada are painstakingly, meticulously, very, very carefully presented in great detail within his books and writings. Srila Prabhupada was preparing instructions that would live beyond him in the form of his books so that he could give us the dust from his lotus feet, he could give the instructions for us to carry out throughout our lives – achieving the satisfaction of the Personality of Godhead, get the blessings of the Personality of Godhead, achieve purification of heart, as well as necessary clarity and purity to carry out our duties, proper qualities so that the qualitative way in which those duties are being executed are pleasing to the Vaisnavas and to Krishna. That is what our life is meant to be. This is the medium – this dust from the lotus feet of our founder acarya and those representing him by their nice example and their teachings of the founder acarya.
This is what inspires me in terms of the topic of leadership and exercising authority. Everyone without exception – we are servants constitutionally and in that service we have some responsibility and with that responsibility some authority to whatever you do – whatever you do – leave your shoes in a proper place, or to execute whatever it is that you do in that mood is executing receiving authority and executing authority in the proper manner.
Always remain the servant of these instructions and the persons passing on to us these instructions, striving always throughout our lives, not just one time do it and then okay I did it, but continuously staying in that mood and becoming in heart more purified, more qualified, more an instrument. Nimitta-matram bhava savya-sacin [Bg 11.33], just being an instrument of the will of our founder acarya. This is what leadership is. As Prabhupada would sometimes say that the best leader is the best follower.
I was inspired by this verse and wanted to share it with everyone. Hare Krishna. Any comments or questions?
Dravida Prabhu: Just a note that both of these verses quoted in the purport to this verse where spoken by Prahlad Maharaja. Yasyasti bhaktir was also quoted by Prahlad. He is offering it to Nrsimhadev in Jambudvip.
HH Romapada Swami: Very nice. Thank you.
Dravida Prabhu: Thank you.
Prabhu: Hare Krishna Maharaja. So I would like to ask one question. Sometimes we see our authority. How to overlook their mistake like for example in our system I don’t eat too much sweet and then the authority says, “Take sweet…” This is just one example there are certain mistakes when the authority makes but how to overlook it and have faith in that authority? It can be anything like small things but then the juniors see this, that you are not doing and you are supposed to do – small, small things but how to have faith and overlook this types of mistakes in your authority? Hare Krishna.
HH Romapada Swami: Several things. One thing is the big picture. By that I mean seeing the overall example, character and standard of the leader. If there is this but then there is this what is the nature and character of that person? Don’t just look at the spot in the moon but look at the light of the moon. Saying the same thing in a slightly different way – is this person a strict follower of the instructions in a broad sense? If so, they will become purified. So the respect goes to the process of bhakti and the bhakti that is carried in the heart of that person.
Having said that, going to the other side, there should be some discrimination. We should know what is what. So if there was some – the expression that you used was “small, small”. So, small small. But in the proper perspective, the discrepancy is very small – small, small – not big, big – small, small. On that basis, I am discriminating individual and I look at the big picture. I see the consistent behaviour of this individual. Because it is small small, the process of bhakti will address it; but if it is big, big then the process of discrimination is required and active – do not abandon it, do not switch it off. Is some pattern of consistent deviation? Discriminate.
Then there is my position. Let me never abandon my position of being servant of the servant of the servant. In that position, from that perspective, what are my options? Big, big. What do I do? Examine different options. We can list some of them.
* You can approach the person
* You can approach the person’s authority in the mood of the servant. Not in the mood of something else.
* Depending upon place where you live, another option is to approach an ombudsman. Braja Bihari probably had some seminar during the ILS where he presented the model of Ombudsman. Ombuds means something like a village elder – a neutral mature person, who you go to in confidence. You disclose “Something is wrong, my heart is disturbed. I don’t want to be offensive but…” If the deviation is not small small, but big big, and it is consistent, then approach the Ombudsman. “Something needs attention. I don’t know what to do.” The village elder or the ombuds person will advise you to keep your heart pure. Don’t meditate on contamination or faults. Address the situation through the Ombudsman – if it is not just small small, but big big.
Does that help?
One other thing. I want to share with you the second writing of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur that I read as I was becoming a devotee. First I received my first Back to Godhead Magazine, which contained an article by Bhaktisiddhanta in it. I couldn’t even pronounce the title! “The Bhagavat: Its Ontology, Morphology and Something-ology.” Then I read the article. The text was powerful, and the experience of reading it was likewise powerful. Every tenth word I had to look up in the dictionary! My appreciation of the article was not because it was technical. The purity was powerful. Three hours later, after I completed reading the article, I felt that I had just been transported to another place. Not because it was technical or high. It was pure. I was transported by Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s purity to another place, a spiritual place. It was a profound experience! So I had from then on a very deep affection and appreciation for this yet-unknown personality, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, this luminary who I did not yet know, either who he was or anything.
Fast forward in time. I became a new bhakta in the Boston temple. One week after that Guru Dasa comes to visit the temple. He had just come from India and had with him a stack of books. I asked him if I could look at that stack of books, because I liked books. Guru das said OK. Right on top of the stack of books was a book by Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur! So I opened up the book. I read in the foreword page. Although this event took place so long ago, it is deeply embedded in my consciousness and has guided my spiritual life since then. In the foreword, Bhaktisiddhanta wrote: “A vaisnava never finds fault in others, for by so doing he is simply indicating that his own heart is honeycombed with those same faults. Rather a Vaisnava is one who always looks within. He makes his own heart pure, first and foremost. This is a vaisnava.” Wow! Powerful instruction! This is a most helpful instruction to help you with the situation you described in your question. First step is to make your own heart pure. When your heart is indeed pure, then by prompting from Supersoul so many nice instructions you received from Vaisnavas over a period of time will arise in your heart. You will then know better how to address yourself in the situation you just mentioned, from a position of a pure heart. Then you can truly act as a servant of the other person – not only doing the right thing, but in the right consciousness. First things first. Make the heart pure. That is a nice principle.
Someone else? Yes?
Prabhu: Hare Krishna. Maharaj in the Srimad-Bhagavatam in the fourth canto there is a verse that says: yasya prasanno bhagavan gunair maitry-adibhir harih tasmai namanti bhutani nimnam apa iva svayam [SB 4.9.47]
So it says that Dhruva Maharaja when he was returning back to home that verse said all living entities bowed down to one who has pleased the Supreme Lord and by his friendliness towards all living entities. So after that we hear about the section of Dhruva getting into the problem of atirosena. So my question was this that Bhagavatam always points us in the hearts of very great souls like Bharaa Maharaja, so if a growing leader commits mistakes due to which subordinate’s devotional service is impeded will that be counted as violence also?
HH Romapada Swami: Will that be considered as violence?
HH Romapada Swami: A lot depends on – let’s go back to the Dhruva Maharaja’s situation. What happened? He got carried away with undue anger, after his step-brother was killed by the Yaksas. When fighting the Yaksas, he became bewildered by their mystical display. Dhruva was then rescued by the brahmanas who had accompanied him. They just tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Dhruva please remember what Visnu told you. Don’t become bewildered. Stop your bewilderment.” After resuming his fighting, and the Yaksas were being totally anihilated, Manu came. After Manu spoke only a few words to Dhruva about his atirosena behavior, Dhruva completely stopped. When that submissiveness – like the api cet su-duracaro [Bg 9.30] verse – when the submissiveness to the brahmanas and Vaisnavas and the Personality of Godhead is intact, whatever deviation, discrepancy or temporary weakness is checked. Now, how are we to look at those circumstances? If one is ananya-bhakta, one looks upon the individual as a sadhu. Likewise, we look at a deviation differently if it is not like that. So that is my response to your question. My answer is “Yes, violence is violence. But if there is indeed a wrong, how should we regard the person? Put it on that in context of bhajate mam ananya-bhak [Bg 9.30] that verse tells us how we have to look at the circumstance.
Mataji: Didn’t Srila Prabhupada say that you shouldn’t follow blindly.
HH Romapada Swami: Correct, we shouldn’t follow blindly. Right? So you want to hear more about that – don’t follow blindly? Yes? Similar to what I already explained?
Mataji: Maharaj just to add to that point. Sometimes a devotee because he doesn’t want to follow the instruction he can find fault in the authority who gave the instruction as an excuse to not follow properly.
HH Romapada Swami: Yes it does happen. It happens. So therefore the first business is to make one’s own heart pure. Then one can ask oneself “Is the instruction in line with Prabhupada’s instruction? And what shall I do in such circumstances. What becomes my responsibility? How does Prabhupada instruct in such a circumstance? What am I to do?”
I want to just give a little anecdotal experience from my own Krishna consciousness without all the detail. Once upon a time in New York we had a leader who became a misleader. He went off the rails and started doing very bad things. I was so absorbed in book distribution and sankirtan I didn’t even know that was going on, but some persons knew of the deviations in detail. I was just busy distributing books and encouraging book distribution. At a certain point in time the temple president put his foot down and kicked a person out of the temple. In fact the person removed was his authority!
Then later Prabhupada wrote a letter to the devotees in the temple and the letter was placed right by the side of the entrance to the temple room door. Dravida, were you there at that time?
Dravida: I was there, but I also knew nothing about the deviations.
HH Romapada Swami: Remember, Srila Prabhupada’s letter was taped to the wall, right beside the entrance of the temple room? What Prabhupada said was, “Please understand that you are not responsible for the wrongs that were done. You were following my instruction which is to follow your leader, and so no blame or reaction goes to you for the wrongs that have been done. Now Krishna has corrected the situation and that person is gone. Please don’t lament over what happened. Rather Krishna has addressed the situation. Go on nicely with your Krishna consciousness.”
Now that is what Prabhupada wrote to the devotees in general.
However, he spoke radically differently to those who were senior devotees and who knew what was going on and they didn’t do anything. Without naming names, Prabhupada let them have it! “You knew this was going on and you didn’t do anything!!”
Do you follow the difference here? According to position, Srila Prabhupada expected different conduct. So one should follow, but not blindly. When there is something that is big big, it should go through the proper channel. Then those who are in that position of authority are to do something.
HH Prahladananda Swami: This isn’t a specific question but just to add to that.
HH Romapada Swami: Okay.
HH Prahladananda Swami: In 4.34 in Bhagavd-gita Prabhupada says – one side he says about blind following and the other side he says mental speculation
– that blind following and absurd inquiries are condemned. One should not only hear submissively but one should get a clear understanding through submission, service and inquiry. So one can go to either extreme. One could be a follower or one can be simply mental speculator. So our business is not sentimental and it is not dry speculation. It is utilising our intelligence to come to the proper transcendental mood of service.
HH Romapada Swami: I am looking at the clock and it says it is nine o’clock. It is time to end. I was requested to mention something about Gour Govinda Maharaja because this is the day where his disciples are honouring his disappearance which took place right upstairs here in Mayapur. This is the day when they are observing Gour Govinda Maharaja’s disappearance. A book
(holding a newly published book in the air, to show the devotees) – where is the author, Madhavananda Prabhu? Somewhere out there, on the public walkway, there are going to be copies for those who would like to purchase one.
I would like to say a few words about my appreciation of Gour Govinda Maharaj. My association with him was very limited, but I would like to share one experience with him. Many years ago, I think it was in 1974 – it might have been 1975, devotees from New York under the GBC-ship of Adi Kesava accepted an invitation of Bhagavat Prabhu to go to Puri – to visit Puri and to visit Bhubhaneswar. When we visited Bhubhaneswar my jaw dropped because when we visited Iskcon Bhubhaneswar all I saw was a field of dirt – in the midst of vast fields of dirt in all directions. There was nada – there was nothing – just a bunch of nothing, except there was a little fence going around a little straw hut in the middle of the field of dirt. And that was the beginnings of Iskcon Bhubhaneswar.
That little straw hut is still there or a replica of it, where Gour Govinda Maharaja stayed when he was following the instructions of Srila Prabhupada to translate Prabhupada’s books into Oriya and to establish a temple in his native country or state.
We heard from Bhagavat Prabhu the kind of schedule, the kind of austerity, the kind of preaching that the life that Gour Govinda Maharaja led when there wasn’t anything. In a similar way – different but similar to Prabhupada’s taking the instructions of Srila Prabhupada to spread Krishna consciousness to the west – that is how I processed it. There was a follower of Srila Prabhupada who started with nothing but an instruction and surrender. From that he made something. When you go to Bhubhaneswar you will see something very different than what I saw in 1974/5 on the strength of the faith and mood of service of one soul who Srila Prabhupada gave an instruction to and immediately dedicated his life and soul. Now we have Krishna consciousness in that place – from that little seed. The title of this book is, ‘When Good Fortune Arises – The life and teachings of Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja.’ If your time permits, feel free to go up to the table and take the book. At least during the day offer some prayers of appreciation for Gour Govinda Maharaja’s wonderful service to our founder acarya.
Thank you very much Srila Prabhupada Ki Jai! [Applause]