Today is aksaya-tritiya. So, in honor of this day I would like to give away my daily planner. I created a monthly spiritual planner a while ago as a way to track one’s sadhana. But it wasn’t enough for my needs. I like writing a journal and track my task list. The daily schedule I use to keep track of what I’m doing , when I wake up, lunch, whatever.
So in honor of aksaya-tritya, here is my daily planner I hope it receives you well.
The weirdest blog post I have ever written is the one where I write about how to Recognize spiritual progress from past lifes. It was a blog post that wasn’t me at all, but wouldn’t let me go until I pressed publish. Though I believe in karma and reincarnation, the whole past lives etc. becomes just too new agey for me. There are tons of blog posts I can’t remember, but yet this one I kept on thinking about, because it was so strange to me.
Then one devotee published this on facebook:
WHEN ONE BECOMES A DEVOTEE, GENERATIONS OF HIS FAMILY ARE LIBERATED. THE NUMBER OF GENERATIONS DEPEND ON ADHIKARA OF THE DEVOTEE. WHAT KIND OF ‘LIBERATION’ DO THEY GET? THEY DO NOT GO TO THE SPIRITUAL WORLD, THEY BECOME DEVOTEES.
triḥ-saptabhiḥ pitā pūtaḥ
pitṛbhiḥ saha te ’nagha
yat sādho ’sya kule jāto
bhavān vai kula-pāvanaḥ
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Prahlāda, O most pure, O great saintly person, your father has been purified, along with twenty-one forefathers in your family. Because you were born in this family, the entire dynasty has been purified. [SB 7.10.18]
The word triḥ-saptabhiḥ means seven multiplied by three. In one’s family one can count back four or five generations—to one’s great-grandfather or even one’s great-grandfather’s father — but since the Lord mentions twenty-one forefathers, this indicates that the benediction expands to other families also. Before the present family in which one has taken birth, one must have been born in other families. Thus when a Vaiṣṇava takes birth in a family, by the grace of the Lord he purifies not only that family but also the families of his previous births.
A devotee, although born in a caṇḍāla (dog-eater) family, can purify his whole family for one hundred generations, past and future, by devotional service, whereas a proud brāhmaṇa cannot even purify himself.
[Teachings of Lord Caitanya, ch 2.]
So my point is: by serving the Supreme Lord, one gives the best service to the family, because if one becomes a Vaiṣṇava, pure Vaiṣṇava, the whole family, up to fourteen generations, they become liberated. Therefore tīvreṇa bhakti-yogena. We should not divert our attention for any other service. We should simply concentrate for rendering service to the Supreme Lord. This is the conclusion. [Srila Prabhupada’s Lecture on SB 3.25.44]
Pañca-draviḍa: What kind of liberation does the family get of a pure devotee?
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: One who becomes a devotee, the statement is that fourteen generations of his family, past, present and future, become liberated. So what kind of liberation does the family members of a pure Vaiṣṇava get?
Prabhupāda: Liberation means — that is explained by Caitanya Mahāprabhu — to become devotee. That is liberation. To become…. To become a devotee is itself liberation. [break] …will come.
[Morning walk, Mayapur March 17, 1976]
From Upadesamrta: The Nectarean Instructions
by Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada
QUESTION: When a devotee is born in a family, does that family benefit from his or her birth?
SRILA BHAKTISIDDHANTA: When a great saint, a pure devotee, appears in a family, then his ancestors and descendants for a HUNDRED GENERATIONS each are elevated. When a devotee of the middle stature (madhyama bhagavata) appears in a family, then his ancestors and descendants for FOURTEEN GENERATIONS each are elevated. When a neophyte devotee appears in a family, then his ancestors and descendants for THREE GENERATIONS each are elevated.
Suddenly that blog post for years ago made sense to me. I write a lot about the struggles I have in being a devotee. I have had this belief for twenty years, and still I struggle with even the basics like chanting. It hasn’t made sense to me. If I was a devotee in previous life, why am I fighting an uphill battle where even the smallest progress has been precluded with great struggles and difficulties? The only thing that has remained steady with me is my belief which is rock solid.
The answer is because I have never been a devotee before. I am a devotee because I was in the family of a devotee in a previous life and that person gave me this boon. It makes sense to me now why nothing comes to me naturally spiritually (except the faith).
I have always been certain that this life is the first one where I have encountered an uttama-bhagavata. I have always looked forward to my next life, because I know that things will be so much easier then. I will be born into more auspicious circumstances.
It’s such a relief to finally understand why everything is so difficult for me spiritually.
When we look for religious truths, the vedas say that truth are threefold: sadhu, sastra and guru. So wouldn’t it be pertinent that in siddhantic disagreements, we have to verify our stance with all three?
“Sadhu sastra, guru vakya, tinete kariya aikya. Spiritual realization can be perfected by three parallel process. Sadhu. Sadhu means saintly persons, who are realized souls, sadhu. And sastra. Sastra means scriptures, authoritative scriptures, Vedic scriptures, sastra. Sadhu, sastra, and guru, a spiritual master. Three parallel line. And if you place your car or vehicle on these three parallel line, your car will go direct to Krsna. Tinete kariya aikya. Just like in the railway line you see two parallel lines. If they are in order, the railway carriages are carried very smoothly to the destination. Here also, there are three parallel lines–sadhu, sastra, guru: saintly person, association of saintly person, acceptance of bona fide spiritual master, and faith in the scriptures. That’s all. Then your carriage will be going nicely, without any disturbance.”
Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 10-18-68, Seattle
One of the things I have noticed in the siddhantical debates when discussing what siddha-deha Srila Prabhupada has, is that the madhurya-rati side only references Gurudevas words.But even a Gurus words have to be checked against sadhu and sastra – not because we think we know more than Gurudeva, but to make sure our understanding is correct. Just quoting Gurudeva is not enough when dealing with siddhantical disagreements. Quoting Gurudeva is certainly a valid source in all instances, but when disagreements arise there need to be several sources (specifically sadhu and sastra) which agrees with Gurudevas statements.
The siddhantical issues that are being put into question is:
Our lineage contains only manjaris and other moods belongs somewhere else.
If one has another mood than madhurya, one is not a rupanuga
Gurudeva has specifically said that our lineage is only manjaris:
When it comes to the lineage, it can be easily refuted by sastra:
I shall personally inaugurate the religion of the age, nama-sankirtana. I shall distribute the four mellows of devotional service (dasya, sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya).
Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi-lila 3.19
Here we have a case of Gurudeva saying one thing, and sastra saying something else.
Can Gurudeva have opinions that differ from His own diksa Guru?
Certain sahajiyas, following the theory of ‘ichari-paka’, or expecting ripe fruit prematurely, say that “rupanuga-bhajana’ consists of only the acceptance of parakiya madhura-rasa. They have established that other rasas such as dasya, sakhya and vatsalya are not included within rupanuga-bhajana. Such statements identify the sahajiyas section as being without proper understanding of rasa-tattva, and as being uncontrolled [independent]. These days, many persons situated within the line of conception flowing from Sri Saraswati Thakura and Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, are fallen from the true line of thought of Sri Rupa Goswami, and have actually taken shelter of the feet of the followers of the sahajiya-section, and are believers in this ‘ichari-paka’ philosophy; Such imitationists say ‘what will you get from preaching? What is there in kirtana? Do bhajana, just do bhajana!” This class of offenders think that their exchanging of the chanting of the Holy Name for deceitfully ‘pulling rope’ on their japa-mala, while sitting and performing silent bhajana, is actual bhajana. It is a matter of great astonishment that even though a great many people are doing this, still they have no shame. Service to Hari kirtana is actual rupanuga-bhajana, otherwise not.
Sri Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Goswami Maharaja
The appearance of Sri Baladeva, 21 August, 1958. Appearing in Sri Sri Bhagavat Patrika, 1-12, 2017.
This statement from Kesava Maharaja addresses both siddhantical disputes. When it comes to the thesis that only manjaris are rupanugas, I believe its because one is unable to see it from several viewpoints. From Gurudeva (a manjari), a rupanuga would mean following Rupa Goswamis internal moods. But for jivas with other intrinsic mood, they would interpret being a Rupanuga as following his teachings (as their mood may be different, but teachings are still very much current for them).
In other words, there is room for all moods in the gaudiya vedanta lineage. Now, there may be biological families whose moods are within one of the four mellows, but they still are within the gaudiya vedanta lineage. I’m happy that Gurudeva is my Guru, but I would have been honored to have had a Guru with a different mellow as long as he was authentic.
The funny thing is that those who belongs within the madhurya-rati side is also discussing the age-old question on whether the jiva fell from vaikuntha. It’s an excellent case of history repeating itself. In Isckon, during and after Srila Prabhupadas disappearance there was a belief that the jivas had been in Vaikuntha, but fell down to this material world. Gurudeva refuted this belief and showed how the jivas came from the tatastha region and that it’s not possible to be in Vaikuntha and fall down from the moods there. The same disciples who argues the correct understanding toward this isckon misconception, is the same ones who has the misconceptions in terms of madhurya rasa. It really is history repeating itself.
That Gurudeva was able to cheat us on these things is really a glory of his, not something that limits him. Gurudeva’s knowledge is so powerful that we still discuss and disagrees on it even today. That’s how powerful his influence is. Preaching tactic doesn’t subtract from his glory, it adds to it.
Furthermore, what evidence is there that having misconceptions disqualify one from spiritual progress? None, because misconceptions are not what we are being measured on. If we were measured on our misconceptions, none of us would stand a chance.
Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.
A real disciple is someone who gets that experience too, from the wise, by means of three things:
The interesting quality in this context is “rigourous inquiry” which means there are room for questioning, having misconceptions. Just as long as one keep on working on our understandings, it will be fine. Just don’t let pride stand in the way.
(I’m taking away that last sentence there, because its wrong. I’m leaving it visibly lined through so that you can see my error)
During Gurudevas presence, I used to go to the festivals in Europe. I was an avid reader and whatever books I could get my hands on, I purchased. One could always see me hovering around the book table. I’ve been to many of Gurudevas lectures, but those were difficult for me. I didn’t understand what Gurudeva said (I struggled with his dialect) and even if I wrote things down it was in one ear and out the other. I had and still have a teflon brain where nothing sticks.
The last few years I have been unable to read books. I loved reading books and devoured them, it was even the primary way I stayed connected during my years of no association. Now I’m unable to read. I don’t know how many books I have begun reading and only come a few pages into them, never to be continued. It’s been frustrating. Perplexing. Reading used to give me so much pleasure and now this quality has disappeared. Poof.
Instead I have turned to audiobooks and I have found it a wonderful avenue. Audiobooks now gives me what reading used to give me. I love it. I put my headphones on, and I can do whatever I want to while still listening to harikatha and books. It’s amazing.
The first audiobook I turned to was Bhakti-rasayana. It was specifically this video that got me on the track of audio narrations of books.
I remembered I had a CD with the narration of this book by Bhaktivedanta Tridandi Swami and I can greatly recommend it. Tridandi swami has a voice that works perfectly for listening to and his narrations is well spoken. He enhances the story, not getting in the way of it.
I have tried to find the books online, but without luck. I sent the following letter below to GVP Publications (contact form: http://gvpbookdistribution.com/contact/ ) in the hopes they will make them available. If this is something that speaks to you, send them a letter as well as this is a very important service I would like to see so much more of.
(I have the mp3s, but I’m not making them available as they are not my intellectual property. It’s better to mail GVP and hope they become enthused to publish them online)
All glories to Guru, the Vaishnavas and Gauranga!
I have been greatly enjoying the narration of Bhakti Rasayana (Ambrosia of divine love). It’s a cd I purchased many years ago. I have been looking to see if its possible to download it somewhere, but it isn’t.
Is it possible to make it (and all other audiobooks) available? For example on amazon.com?
The audiobooks are expertly produced and Tridandi Swami has a perfect voice for narrations. I’m hoping that by me sending this mail, you will make the audiobooks available for devotees and hopefully produce more of them. It’s an overlooked service that I am now very grateful for receiving.