Dhanurdhara Swami October 3rd, 2016
Lessons from the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Anyta-līlā, Chapter 3
Lesson 1: One should not instruct or criticize one’s teacher.
One young boy would regularly visit Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Dāmodara Paṇḍita, one of his disciples, was concerned that people may criticize Śrī Caitanya. The child was not only the son of a beautiful young widow, but Śrī Caitanya was still a young and handsome man and, more importantly, in the renounced order of life. He thus began to instruct him.
“Dāmodara Paṇḍita impudently said to the Lord, ‘Everyone says that You are a great teacher because of your instructions to others, but now we shall find out what kind of teacher you are.’” Antya-līlā 3.11
“You are known as Gosāñi (teacher or ācārya) but now talk about your attributes and reputation will spread throughout the city of Puruṣottama. How Your position will be impaired!” Antya-līlā 3.12
“Dāmodara Paṇḍita was a great devotee of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Sometimes, however, a person in such a position becomes impudent, being influenced by the eternal energy and material considerations. Thus a devotee mistakenly dares criticize the activities of the spiritual master or the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Antya-līlā 3.11
Note: What to do if one is actually concerned that a teacher or senior is doing something wrong? Never criticize. Bring your concerns to a trusted peer of your teacher who can make a impartial decision on whether there is a problem and who is in the position to correct or instruct him.
Lesson 2: Although a student may violate etiquette in correcting a teacher and the teacher may rebuke the student, the teacher will forgive him if the student is simple-hearted and his motive pure.
“Having said this, Dāmodara Paṇḍita became silent. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu smiled, pleased within Himself, and considered the impudence of Dāmodara Paṇḍita.” Antya-līlā 3.18
[Śrī Caitanya thought:] “This impudence is also a sign of pure love for Me. I have no other intimate friend like Dāmodara Paṇḍita.” Antya-līlā 3.19
“[…] The Lord could understand that it was because of Dāmodara Paṇḍita’s simplicity that he impudently dared criticize him. Nevertheless such behavior by a devotee is not very good.” Antya-līlā 3:17
Lesson 3: A devotee should never neglect the welfare of their parent.
After chastising Dāmodara Paṇḍita Śrī Caitanya orders him to stay with his widowed mother to protect her:
“The Lord said, ‘My dear friend Dāmodara, you had better go to Nadia and stay with My mother.’” Antya-līlā 3.21
Lesson 4: A devotee who is neutral or detached can be objective and speak strongly about religious principles.
By sending Dāmodara Paṇḍita to stay and protect his mother, he is not only saving him from more offenses, but using his critical nature in service: He informs him:
“I can see no one but you to protect her, for you are so careful that you can caution even Me.” Antya-līlā 3.22
“You are most neutral among my associates. That is very good, for without being neutral one cannot protect religious principles.” Antya-līlā 3.23
Lesson 5: A devotee exchanges love with others, especially other devotees, by offering them prasādam.
After instructing Dāmodara Paṇḍita to go and look after his mother, he sent with him prasādam to offer to the various devotees in her town.
“After saying this, Śrī Cainatnya Mahāprabhu ordered that varieties of prasādam offered to Lord Jagannātha be brought. The Lord then gave him the prasādam, separately packed, to offer to various Vaiṣṇavas and His mother.” Antya-līlā 3.41
Lesson 6: One should carefully follow the order of one’s spiritual master.
After Dāmodara Paṇḍita received his instructions from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu he carefully carried them out.
“He delivered all the prasādam to such great Vaiṣṇavas as Advaita Ācārya. Thus he stayed there and behaved according to the order of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.” Antya-līlā 3.43
Lesson 7: A devotee who desires to spread God-consciousness to others should be very emphatic even to those that are sinful and think of ways to deliver them.
In a discussion with Haridāsa Ṭhākura, the preeminent teacher of the holy name, Śrī Caitanya expressed his unhappiness that there is no way to rectify those that are most sinful, even those that slaughter animals.
“How will these yavanas be delivered? To great my unhappiness, I do not see any way.” Antya-līlā 3.51
“Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was always anxious to deliver the fallen souls because their fallen condition gave Him great unhappiness. That is the platform by which one can propagate the mission of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.” Antya-līlā 3.51
Lesson 8: It is the main service of those in line from Śrī Caitanya to try to relieve His anxiety by compassionately preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
To relieve Śrī Caitanya’s anxiety Haridāsa Ṭhākura addresses Him:
“Haridāsa Ṭhākura replied, ‘My dear Lord, do not be in anxiety. Do not be unhappy to see the condition of the yavanas in material existence.” Antya-līlā 3.52
“These words of Haridāsa Ṭhākura are just befitting a devotee who has dedicated his life and soul to the service of the Lord. When the Lord is unhappy because of the condition of the fallen souls, the devotee consoles Him, saying “My dear Lord do not be in anxiety.” This is service. Everyone should adopt the cause of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to try to relieve Him from the anxiety He feels. This is actual service to the Lord. One who tries to relieve Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s anxiety for the fallen souls is certainly a most dear and confidential devotee of the Lord.” Antya-līlā 3.52
Lesson 9: As long as the holy name is chanted innocently, even if chanted improperly, its potency will not be diminished.
In answer to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s question of how the yavanas will be delivered, Haridāsa explains that even when the yavanas utter the word “Ha Rama”, which in their language means condemned, the potency of the holy name is not diminished.
“Namācārya Haridāsa Ṭhākura, the authority on chanting the holy name said, ‘The chanting of the Lord’s holy name to indicate something other than the Lord is an instance of nāmābhāsa. Even when the holy name is chanted in this way, its transcendental power is not destroyed.’” Antya-līlā 3.55
Lesson 10: Despite its potency, one should vigilantly avoid offenses to the holy name if one wants to receive the full benefit of chanting.
“If a devotee once utters the holy name of the Lord, or if it penetrates his mind or enters his ear, which is the channel of aural reception, that holy name will certainly deliver him from material bondage, whether vibrated properly or improperly, with correct or incorrect grammar, or properly joined or vibrated in separate parts. O brāhmaṇa, the potency of the holy name is therefore certainly great. However, if one uses the vibration of the holy name for the benefit of the material body, for material wealth or followers, or under the influence of greed or atheism—in other words, if one utters the name with offenses—such chanting will not produce the desired result very soon. Therefore one should vigilantly avoid offenses in chanting the holy name of the Lord.” Antya-līlā 3.60
Lesson 11: Even one’s surrounding environment becomes purified when one chants loudly, especially when one’s chanting is accompanied by others.
After hearing how the yavanas can be delivered, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu raises the concern how the moving and non-moving living entities can be delivered from material bondage. Haridāsa responds:
“You have loudly chanted the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, and everyone, moving and not moving, has benefited by hearing it.” Anyta-līlā 3.69
“My Lord, the living entities who have heard Your loud saṅkīrtana have already been delivered by bondage to the material world, and after the non-moving living entities like trees hear it, there is an echo.” Antya-līlā 3.70
“Actually, however, it is not an echo: it is the kīrtana of the non-moving living entities. All this, although inconceivable, is possible by Your mercy.” Antya-līlā 3.71
“When loud chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is performed all over the world by those who follow in your footsteps, all living entities, moving and non-moving, dance in ecstatic devotional love.” Antya-līlā 3.72
Lesson 12: There is no limit in how far we can glorify the Lord’s pure devotee.
After Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu heard Haridāsa’s explanations on the power of the holy name He was so impressed that he went to His personal devotees and began glorifying Haridāsa as if “he had hundreds of mouths”. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja’s comments:
“The transcendental qualities of Haridāsa Ṭhākura are innumerable and unfathomable. One may describe a portion of them, but to count them all is impossible.” Antya-līlā 3.95
Lesson 13: The most important spiritual practice is to chant a prescribed number of the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra.
“Haridāsa Ṭhākura constructed a cottage in a solitary forest. There he planted a tulasī plant, and in front of tulasī he would chant the holy name of the Lord 300,000 times daily. He chanted throughout the day and night.” Antya-līlā 3.100
“[…] the process of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra with a vow before the tulasī plant has such great spiritual potency that simply by doing this one can become spiritually strong. Therefore we request the members of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement to follow Haridāsa Ṭhākura’s example rigidly.” Antya-līlā 3.100
Lesson 14: One should only take food in the house of a brāhmaṇa or Vaiṣṇava where food is offered to Kṛṣṇa with love.
Lesson 15: Whether one is a renunciate or a householder, if one is serious about spiritual life one should not live an unnecessarily luxurious life.
Haridāsa Ṭhākura would only eat what he could beg from a brāhmaṇa’s house.
“For his bodily maintenance he would go to a brāhmaṇa’s house and beg some food […]“ Antya-līlā 3.101
“If we take food from the house of others, such as karmīs, we shall have to share the qualities of those from whom we take alms. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu took prasādam in the house of Vaiṣṇavas. This is the general process. The members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement are advised not to take food from anywhere but a Vaiṣṇava or brāhmaṇa’s house where the Deity worship is performed […] We must always remember that a devotee’s life is one of vairāgya-vidyā, or renunciation and knowledge. Therefore all devotees are warned not to live unnecessarily luxurious lives at the cost of others.” Antya-līlā 3.101