All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
The Nectar in the Life of the Surrendered Soul
A Vyasa Puja Offering On
The 114th Anniversary Festival of
fall at the feet of Srila Sridhar-Deva,
Divine and Luminous Qualities
In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta it is said:
sarva maha-guna-gana vaisnava-sarire
Through the Heart of the Vaisnava
Through the Heart of the Vaisnava
The Vaisnava is the true poet. It is through the heart of the Vaisnava that the Lord gives expression. We have heard many instances in which the genuine devotees have questioned their own writings and words. Srila Rupa Goswami wondered: how is it possible that I have written such extraordinary things? It is not possible. It is as if some divine force is driving my hand and forcing me to write these things.
“kahe,--tomara kavitva amrtera dhara”
~Cc. Antya-lila 1.172
And to Mahaprabhu, Sri Ramananda Raya said:
“tomara sakti vina jivera nahe ei vani
tumi sakti diya kahao,—hena anumani”
~Cc. Antya-lila 1.196
“Without Your mercy such poetic expressions would be impossible for an ordinary living being to write. My guess is that You have given him the power.”
Sriman Mahaprabhu also relished and praised the metaphors and other literary ornaments of Srila Rupa Goswami’s transcendental poetry. Without such poetic attributes, He said, there is no possibility of preaching transcendental mellows.
~Cc. Antya-lila 1.179
“Your exalted poetic descriptions of the mellows of Lord Krishna’s pastimes are like an ocean of nectar.”
Sri Rupa could simply reply:
“ami kichui na jani yei mahaprabhu kahana, sei kahi vani”
~Cc. Antya-lila 1.211
“I do not know anything. The only transcendental words I can utter are those which Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu makes me speak.”
Inviting Higher Expression
It is the true humility of the Vaisnava that invites that higher expression, yet it is also the profound humility of the Vaisnavas that keep them feeling uncertain of their position, of their ability to offer meaningful service. Sri Jayadev Goswami, the author of Gita Govinda, was once writing such high and devotional words that he felt overwhelmed and stepped away from his writing. At that time Sri Krishna assumed the form of Sri Jayadev, took up his pen and wrote those divine sentiments that had overwhelmed His beloved devotee. Upon returning, Sri Jayadev knew that it could have been only the Lord of his heart who had penned such sacred words.
One name of the Supreme Lord is Uttamasloka. This indicates that He is can only be described with the most high, sublime and poetic expressions. He is the source of the most resplendent beauty. How can we find adequate words to express such beauty?
Ever-fresh Spiritual Sustenance
Srila Govinda Maharaj has said that His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj very much liked and appreciated many of the slokas and bhajans from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's Saranagati. His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaj also gives constant praise of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and his Saranagati prayers. Recently, His Divine Grace encouraged us to learn by heart these essential prayers.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur was paradukha dukhi. His compassion was so great and so wide that he could not tolerate seeing the pain and the suffering of the jiva souls. Out of concern and care for those who are struggling, as well as for those advanced souls who seek ever-fresh spiritual sustenance, he composed a stream of more than one hundred books, articles, commentaries and poems. He is renowned for his Vaisnava poetry Saranagati.
Saranagati is the BasisThis book of prayer-filled poems, Saranagati, was so dear to Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. In Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion, volume 3, he says, “When I left the association of the disciples of our Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Prabhupad to live alone, I felt some sort of helplessness within me. I knew that saranagati, or surrender, is the indispensable necessity in the life of a devotee, and felt, "I have left, or somehow or other I am excluded from the company of Prabhupad's association. I am helpless, but saranagati may come to my relief." So I especially came to think, "Saranagati is the basis, but what is saranagati?" On reading Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's book Saranagati, this point impressed me most. He wrote:
sad anga saranagati haibe
"If you want Nanda Kumar, you must have this six-fold saranagati."
Srila Guru Maharaj followed closely the compassion and the devotional mood in surrender of Thakur Bhaktivinoda: “I wanted to culture that, so at that time, after coming to live alone I recollected all I had imbibed in my Math life, and also consulted about saranagati in Hari Bhakti Vilasa, in Srila Jiva Goswami's Bhakti Sandarbha, and in the Ramanuja Sampradaya's writings. I then tried to collect it all together and arrange it in a particular way as I thought best. In this way I began to write the book Sri Sri Prapanna Jivanamrtam, that it may also help others who might come in such a position as mine. That was the real reason.”
Srila Guru Maharaj’s beautiful poetic writing style and deep understanding gave great pleasure and satisfaction to his Divine Master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur who commented on its happy style and devotional gravity. Like Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Guru Maharaj also expressed his brilliance, his pure devotional mood and vast scriptural knowledge with unique metaphors and other literary ornaments
Crown Jewel of Divine Literature
Inspired by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s Saranagati
prayers, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj composed what
Vaisnavas consider to be the crown jewel of divine literatures and sacred
Srila Govinda Maharaj has said, “This Sri Sri Prapanna Jivanamrtam is a very valuable book. Everything is covered in this book, and if you read it minutely you must stand in the plane of dedication. Many examples are given there from the scriptures as well as from the devotees' lives. It is not necessary to have gone through Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, and Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita before reading it. This is the first book of to read -- and it is also the last. Srimad Bhagavad Gita, of course, is also the first and last book to read, but there are many things in there that are mixed in with bhakti, or devotion.
“In Prapanna Jivanamrtam only bhakti is found and nothing else. But in the Gita there is description about karma, yoga, jnana, and many other things; that is why everybody likes it. The karmis like it, the terrorists it, the yogis like it, Mahatma Gandhi liked it, Jawaharlal Nehru liked it -- everybody likes the Bhagavad Gita! The reason is that they each receive something from it to fulfill their own purpose. But in Sri Sri Prapanna Jivanamrtam, everything that is included is only for the purpose of devotion -- the relationship between Krishna and the jiva. It is a very pure devotional book. We must take this scripture into our hearts and then we shall be able to understand the other things. The first stage for us has been given by Srila Guru Maharaj there. Everything is there, including the very highest things, but mainly there is one theme: saranagati, or surrender.”
Srila Guru Maharaj said 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. 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.”
As in Thakur Bhaktivinoda’s Saranagati, Srila Guru Maharaj decorates the various chapters of his book with the six limbs of saranagati, spiritual surrender. He illuminates them with the many verses that are like touchstone—filaments of divine light--the transcendental conceptions of our Vaisnava preceptors.
Anukulyasya Sankalpah –
krtyatva-niscayas-canu-, kulya-sankalpa ucyate 
Everything should be done that encourages the service of Sri Krishna and His devotee, and whatever is conducive to the state of exclusive surrender must be executed: such a firm conviction is called anukulyasya-sankalpah—Acceptance of the Favourable.
maj-janmanah phalam idam madhu-kaitabhare
mat prarthaniya mad anugraha esa eva
bhrtasya bhrtyam iti mam smara lokanath 
Devotional service rendered to the devotee bestows the highest fruit—
O Supreme Lord of all beings, O slayer of the demons Madhu and Kaitabha, this is the purpose of my life, this is my prayer, and this is Your Grace—that You will remember me as Your servant, a servant of a servant of a Vaisnava, a servant of a servant of such a servant of a servant of a Vaisnava, and a servant of a servant of the servant of the servant of a servant of a Vaisnava’s servant’s servant.
bhagavad-bhaktayor bhakteh, prapatteh
The principle to reject everything opposed to the service of the Lord and His devotee, and to similarly abstain from everything opposed to an attitude of surrender, is known as pratikulya-vivarjjanam—Rejection of the Unfavourable.
ma draksam ksina-punyan
ksanam api bhavato bhakti-hinan padabje
The resolve to reject everything unfavourable, by means of all the senses—
O Madhava!, let me not see the the unvirtuous persons who are devoid of devotion for Your lotus feet, and let me not hear the narratives which do not describe Your divine personality. O Lord of the universe, may I never have any contact with those bereft of faith in You, and moreover, lifetime after lifetime, may I never be without the company of Your associates who are devoted to Your loving service. ~Sri Kulasekhara
Raksisyatiti Visvasah –
raksisyati hi mam krsno, bhaktanam
bandhavas ca sah
tamasi ravir ivodyan majjatam
The revealed sweetness of confidence in the Lord’s protection—
Like the sun ascending
through the darkness,
he krsna! Pahi mam natha,
'O Krishna, please protect me! My dear
Lord, kindly accept me as Your own.’
bhagavat-palyatvam svarupata eva siddham—
It is proven to be perfectly
natural for the soul to be sustained by the Lord—
summarily offer everything—from body and its paraphernalia up to pure soul—unto
the lotus feet of Sri Hari, is known as atma-niksepah, or Full
anugraha-nigrahabhedena sevyanuraga eva
self-dedication is deep attachment for one’s Master, considering reward and
Karpanyam -- Surrender in Humility
Collecting Drops of Ecstasy
Srila Guru Maharaj wrote, "Ihave collected those drops of ecstasy in my Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam You take it and taste for yourself what this is."
In The Divine Servitor Srila Govinda Maharaj has commented, "I think that this is the highest sloka I have received in my life, and I shall try to explain the meaning.
'In the lotus feet of Bhagavan Sri Krishna is honey. The devotees in a very glorifying way are tasting that; and it is not a mere drop of honey, rather it is an ocean. They take that and become very intoxicated. They chant and glorify their Lord, and that honey overflows. A few drops of that come down into this world and I am quickly collecting those drops of honey and keeping them in a pot: that is Sri Sri Prapann Jivanamrtam. For my benefit and the benefit of the searchers, I am presenting this in book form. You take this and bless me.'
"This, in a simple way, is the meaning of that sloka, and I think that this is the highest sloka I have heard in my life. I am always quoting this."
Poems of Saranagati
Srila Govinda Maharaj asks, “What is saranagati? It is bhagavad-bhaktitah sarvam. It is not even necessary to serve any other god or demigod, but only through service to Krishna we can get everything. Therefore we must take shelter at the lotus feet of Krishna. Service to Krishna can give us everything, and this type of faith is called saranagati. If you can memorize just one sloka, or verse, and put that in your heart, then from this one sloka you will get everything ever given in any scripture.”
Srila Guru Maharaj has also given the meaning of saranagati in his book. In verse 1:35 in particular, he says:
sarvam / ity utsrjya vidher api
"Being governed by the faith that all success is achieved by serving the Supreme Lord, to abandon servitude even to scriptural injunctions and take exclusive refuge in the lotus feet of Sri Krishna in every time, place, and circumstance, is known as saranagati -- unconditional surrender."
Grace Comes from AboveSometimes we are blessed to visit the holy Dham of Aparadha Bhajana-pat—the residence of Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj in Sridham Nabadwip. At night the devotees gather in the nat-mandir before Their Lordships Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharvva Govindasundarjiu and sing the divine songs of our acharyyas. At times, the power goes out and there, in the darkness, with indescribable sweetness, the singing continues and the grace, the heartfelt poems and prayers of Saranagati float through throughout the Dham and pour into our hearts.
On our own we cannot do anything, but if grace comes from above, from Sri Guru and Vaisnava, then there will be some sweet hope. If we can attract that grace with such sincere, heartbreaking mood of unworthiness, of sheer surrender, then we may have some great expectation. The negative mood can invite the Positive. And Sri Guru, like the Supreme Lord, is kind and loving. He is won over; His heart is melted, captured by the sweet affection and self-forgetfulness of his devotees.
The faithful, in order to worship to Mother Ganges, gather handfuls of water from her ever-pure source to offer back in devotion to Her Grace. Similarly, on this most holy and auspicious occasion of His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj’s blessed appearance, having nothing worthy to offer, I take one of his prayerful and poetic verses to offer back to his lotus feet.
visve ’smin kiranair yatha hima-karah
~Srimad Bhaktivinoda-viraha Dasakam (5)
As the universally cooling moon is beautified by diffusing its nectarine rays, nourishing the plants and inciting the twinkling of the stars, your Holy Advent in this world is similarly ascertained as satisfying the pure devotional Scriptures (through profound study) and blessing the learned with full-blown happiness (by the perfect axiomatic conclusions descending in Divine Succession). With your appearance, the ecstasy of the devotees knows no bounds.
On this holy day may that rising moon of Srila Guru Maharaj’s inexhaustible mercy bestow upon us all good fortune.
I offer my humble obeisances again and again to Sri Guru and Vaisnava.
“I am very low, and You are so high. You can purify me, take me and utilise me for Your higher purpose. Be pleased. Otherwise I am helpless, neglected.”
Seeking your gracious glance,