Sri Rama-ekadasi
A Talk by Giriraj Swami
October 22, 2003
Houston

On this date in 1974 something wonderful took place, and today, on this auspicious occasion I would like to speak to you about it.

The event took place in Bombay. Srila Prabhupada, our founder-acarya, was there at the time. Every morning at about six o’clock we would go to his apartment to accompany him on his morning walk on Juhu Beach. When we reached the top of the stairs, we found the door locked, which was unusual. We knocked, and Srila Prabhupada’s secretary then, Harikesa Prabhu, answered. He was very excited and said, “Last night Srila Prabhupada finished his translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.” The Caitanya-caritamrta is considered the most important biography of Sri Krsna Caitanya. It was written by Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, who was almost a contemporary of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and was a direct associate of some of Mahaprabhu’s most intimate associates. So, Harikesa Prabhu said that Srila Prabhupada was very elated that he had finished the work, that upon completing his translation he had written the most wonderful glorification of his own spiritual master, and that he had instructed that we should have a feast to celebrate.

So, I shall read Srila Prabhupada’s Concluding Words to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. He actually finished the work on Ekadasi, but because in the Vedic calculation the new day begins with sunrise—not just one minute after midnight or one second after midnight—we only got the news on Dvadasi, the morning after the night of Ekadasi.

“Today, Sunday, November 10, 1974—corresponding to the 10th of Kartika, Caitanya Era 488, the eleventh day of the dark fortnight, the Rama-ekadasi—we have now finished the English translation of Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami’s Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, in accordance with the authorized order of His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, my beloved eternal spiritual master, guide and friend.”

Here in the first sentence, Srila Prabhupada mentions the point that will be the theme of the entire essay: the order of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

“Although according to material vision His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada passed away from this material world on the last day of December 1936, I still consider His Divine Grace to be always present with me by his vani, his words. There are two ways of association—by vani and by vapuh. Vani means words, and vapuh means physical presence. Physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not, but vani continues to exist eternally. Therefore we must take advantage of the vani, not the physical presence. The Bhagavad-gita, for example, is the vani of Lord Krsna. Although Krsna was personally present five thousand years ago and is no longer physically present from the materialistic point of view, the Bhagavad-gita continues.”

In his dedication to his translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada wrote of his spiritual master, “He lives forever by his divine instructions, and the follower lives with him.” Real life is spiritual existence. The soul exists eternally, and Lord Krsna, who is the Supreme Soul, certainly exists eternally in His original form. The living entities also exist eternally, but in the conditioned state, when they leave the body they enter into another body. Thus, we do not know where they have gone and we may not recognize them if we encounter them in their new body. But Krsna exists eternally in His original form. Even then, Krsna appears and disappears. Just as the sun rises at a certain time and sets at a certain time although the sun always exists, similarly Krsna appears before our vision, displays His pastimes, and then disappears, although He always exists. But when He leaves, He also leaves behind His vani—His words, His instructions—in the form of the Bhagavad-gita. And by studying the words of Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita and following the instructions of Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita, we can revive our eternal relationship with Him. But for us to approach Krsna directly is almost impossible—for a conditioned soul it is impossible. Therefore Krsna sends the spiritual master as His representative, to serve as a transparent medium. Krsna acts to deliver the conditioned souls through the spiritual master. Knowledge from Krsna comes to us through the spiritual master, and our service is offered through the spiritual master to Krsna. Therefore, the order of the spiritual master, who is the representative of Krsna, is all-important in the life of the disciple. As Srila Prabhupada said, the physical presence may be appreciable or not according to the circumstances, but the vani, the words, continue to exist.

“In this connection we may call to memory the time when I was fortunate enough to meet His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, sometime in the year 1922. Srila Prabhupada had come to Calcutta from Sridhama Mayapur to start the missionary activities of the Gaudiya Matha. He was sitting in a house at Ulta Danga when through the inducement of an intimate friend, the late Sriman Narendranath Mullik, I had the opportunity to meet His Divine Grace for the first time.”

Srila Prabhupada remarked that because he was a leader among his friends, when his friends met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura they wanted Srila Prabhupada also to meet him, to give them his opinion, or what they hoped would be his approval.

“I do not remember the actual date of the meeting, but at that time I was one of the managers of Dr. Bose’s laboratory in Calcutta. I was a newly married young man, addicted to Gandhi’s movement and dressed in khadi. Fortunately, even at our first meeting His Divine Grace advised me to preach the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in English in the Western countries.”

Here Srila Prabhupada is tracing the history of the order of his spiritual master. At their very first meeting Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura ordered him to preach the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in English, and the present translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta was written in pursuance of that original instruction.

“Because at that time I was a complete nationalist, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s, I submitted to His Divine Grace that unless our country were freed from foreign subjugation, no one would hear the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu seriously.”

Srila Prabhupada argued that even countries uncivilized from the point of view of Vedic civilization, such as China, had achieved political independence whereas India had not. So who would take the message of India seriously?

“Of course, we had some argument on this subject, but at last I was defeated and convinced that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s message is the only panacea for suffering humanity. I was also convinced that the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was then in the hands of a very expert devotee and that surely the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would spread all over the world.”

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta argued that the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is absolute and that conditions like political dependence or independence are relative; the absolute message is not dependent on any relative condition, and so we should present the absolute knowledge now. Srila Prabhupada remarked that he was defeated by his guru maharaja’s argument. He said that he had never been defeated in his whole life but that his guru maharaja defeated him and he was very happy to have been defeated by him.

“I could not, however, immediately take up his instructions to preach, but I took his words very seriously and was always thinking of how to execute his order, although I was quite unfit to do so.”

So, when we receive an instruction from the spiritual master and are unable to execute it immediately, we should always keep it in our hearts and wait for the opportunity, or pray for the opportunity, when we can actually execute it.

“In this way I passed my life as a householder until 1950, when I retired from family life as a vanaprastha.”

In the Vedic system of varnasrama-dharma there are four social divisions and four stages of spiritual development. The first stage is brahmacari-asrama, celibate student; then grhasta-asrama, or householder; then vanaprastha-asrama, which is retired life, when the husband and wife may remain together but retire from material activities and just engage in Krsna consciousness, God consciousness; and then the fourth order is the renounced order, or sannyasa. So, in 1950 Srila Prabhupada went from grhasta-asrama to vanaprastha-asrama.

“In this way I passed my life as a householder until 1950, when I retired from family life as a vanaprastha. With no companion, I loitered here and there until 1958, when I took sannyasa. Then I was completely ready to discharge the order of my spiritual master. Previously, in 1936, just before His Divine Grace passed away at Jagannatha Puri, I wrote him a letter asking what I could do to serve him. In reply, he wrote me a letter, dated 13 December 1936, ordering me, in the same way, to preach in English the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as I had heard it from him.”

Just two weeks before Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura passed away, he repeated the same instruction that he had given to Srila Prabhupada at their first meeting. Then Srila Prabhupada knew without any doubt what his spiritual master wanted of him.

“After he passed away, I started the fortnightly magazine Back to Godhead sometime in 1944 and tried to spread the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu through this magazine. After I took sannyasa, a well-wishing friend suggested that I write books instead of magazines. Magazines, he said, might be thrown away, but books remain perpetually.”

Sometimes we would see with Srila Prabhupada that he would accept instructions or suggestions that came to him from apparently ordinary people as coming from Krsna or from his spiritual master. I remember that in 1970 an article appeared in the Hindi magazine Kalyan, published by the Gita Press in Gorakhpur. The magazine greatly appreciated Srila Prabhupada’s work in the West, but at the end the article said something like, “Only time will tell how the movement will fare after Srila Prabhupada departs.” At the time we were very young and confident. We thought, “We are going to be successful. Why are they saying such a thing?” But Srila Prabhupada remarked that the end of the article was a God-sent warning to us.

Later in the history of Back to Godhead, a life member in Bombay, Sri Brijratan Mohatta, suggested to Srila Prabhupada, “Why don’t you serialize Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam in Back to Godhead?” (Up until then there had been no excerpt from Srimad-Bhagavatam in the magazine.) Srila Prabhupada took the advice to heart and ordered the editors of Back to Godhead to include an excerpt from Srimad-Bhagavatam in each issue. So it’s not that Srila Prabhupada thought, “Whatever my guru maharaja has said I will accept, and I don’t care what anyone else says.” He was actually open to suggestions from all quarters, and sometimes he took the suggestions as God-sent and the people who came forward to offer the suggestion or service as having been sent by his spiritual master.

“Then I attempted to write Srimad-Bhagavatam. Before that, when I was a householder, I had written on Srimad Bhagavad-gita and had completed about eleven hundred pages, but somehow or other the manuscript was stolen. In any case, when I had published Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, in three volumes in India, I thought of going to the U.S.A.”

Srila Prabhupada knew how important the publication of books was to his spiritual master, and he wasn’t ready to come to the United States until he had some books. So when the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam was published in three volumes, he felt, “Now I can come, because I have books in English.”

“By the mercy of His Divine Grace, I was able to come to New York on September 17, 1965. Since then, I have translated many books, including Srimad-Bhagavatam, the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Teachings of Lord Caitanya (a summary), and many others.

“In the meantime, I was induced to translate Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and publish it in an elaborate version. In his leisure time in later life, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would simply read Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. It was his favorite book. He used to say that there would be a time when foreigners would learn the Bengali language to read the Caitanya-caritamrta. The work on this translation began about eighteen months ago. Now, by the grace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, it is finished. In this connection I have to thank my American disciples, especially Sriman Pradyumna dasa Adhikari, Sriman Nitai dasa Adhikari, Sriman Jayadvaita dasa Brahmacari, and many other boys and girls who are sincerely helping me in writing, editing, and publishing all these literatures.”

Srila Prabhupada, although he is recounting the history of his efforts to serve the instruction of his spiritual master, is not boasting or taking credit for himself. To the contrary, he is giving credit to his spiritual master, by whose grace he came to America and by whose grace he completed Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, and even to his disciples who assisted him in his work. Very humble.

“I think that His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is always seeing my activities and guiding me within my heart by his words. As it is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam, tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye. Spiritual inspiration comes from within the heart, wherein the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His Paramatma feature, is always sitting with all His devotees and associates.”

Here Srila Prabhupada is making a dramatic statement. We learn from the very beginning of the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam that the Lord is situated within the heart, but here Srila Prabhupada elaborates on that principle and says that not only is the Lord as Paramatma sitting within the heart but He is sitting there with all of His devotees and associates, including the spiritual master. In the beginning, Srila Prabhupada said that physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not but that the words, or the vani, continue to exist. From what Srila Prabhupada is saying here, however, the vani exists first as we hear our spiritual master speak, or as we hear Krsna’s words in, for example, the Bhagavad-gita. But Krsna within the heart and the spiritual master within the heart are alive, and they can give us new inspiration and new instructions from within the heart, as much as if they were physically present before us. Of course, to be able to realize the Lord within the heart and the spiritual master within the heart requires some qualification.

In the Fourth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam Srila Prabhupada elaborates on the story of King Puranjana. The king has passed away, and the king’s widow is grieving for him in the forest. The two of them had been living as vanaprasthas in the forest, and soon after the king leaves his body, an old friend in the form of a brahmana comes to meet the widow. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Srila Prabhupada explain that when the spiritual master departs, the Supersoul appears to give direction to the disciple. But they raise the question, “Why did the Supersoul not come in His original form as Krsna? Why did He come in the form of a brahmana?” Srila Prabhupada quotes Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura that unless one is highly elevated in loving the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one cannot see Him in His original form. Still, Lord Krsna gave instruction through the brahmana, who acted as siksa-guru.

But here Srila Prabhupada is saying that he was receiving inspiration from within the heart directly from his spiritual master. Coming back to Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada explains that when one has no desire other than to execute the order of the spiritual master, then Krsna, who is also caitya-guru, appears to give instruction to the disciple. Because Srila Prabhupada had no material desire—his only desire was to serve the spiritual master, and he was fully surrendered to the order of the spiritual master—the spiritual master from within the heart gave him direct instruction or inspiration. So, this is a wonderful fact: not only is Krsna in the heart, but He is there with all of His devotees and associates, and if we become pure enough by serving the spiritual master, by attempting to serve the instructions of the spiritual master, Krsna and the spiritual master, who are within our heart, will manifest themselves to us. Of course, the process is gradual. It is not that when we are partly contaminated we have no appreciation of the spiritual master within the heart, that we have to wait until we are completely purified. No. As we gradually become purified, the Lord and the spiritual master within the heart gradually reveal themselves to us and inspire us.

“Spiritual inspiration comes from within the heart, wherein the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His Paramatma feature, is always sitting with all His devotees and associates. It is to be admitted that whatever translation work I have done is through the inspiration of my spiritual master, because personally I am most insignificant and incompetent to do this materially impossible work. I do not think myself a very learned scholar, but I have full faith in the service of my spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.”

So here also is part of the qualification, and Srila Prabhupada shows by his own example that one must feel completely helpless and dependent on the mercy of the spiritual master and superior Vaisnavas. In one lecture Srila Prabhupada spoke about the flag on Arjuna’s chariot in the Battle of Kuruksetra. Arjuna’s flag was marked with the image of Hanuman, who fought for Lord Ramacandra. And Arjuna was fighting for Krsna. So Arjuna was following in the footsteps of Hanuman, the “previous acarya” for fighting, and praying to him, “Kindly help me.” Srila Prabhupada explains that the Vaisnava always feels himself to be helpless and always prays to the previous acarya, “Kindly help me.” Then he said that Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, in every line of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, was thinking of the previous acaryas, of Rupa-Raghunatha, and praying, “Let me surrender to the Gosvamis and they will help me to write.” Thus, at the end of every chapter we find:

sri-rupa-raghunatha-pade yara asa
caitanya-caritamrta kahe krsnadasa

So that is the mood of the Vaisnava, and we can infer from Srila Prabhupada’s words here that he was in the same mood. He was feeling himself insignificant and incompetent to do this work, and he was praying to his spiritual master to help him. Thus he feels that only because of his spiritual master’s mercy upon him was he able to complete “this materially impossible work.”

“I do not think myself a very learned scholar, but I have full faith in the service of my spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. If there is any credit to my activities of translating, it is all due to His Divine Grace. Certainly if His Divine Grace were physically present at this time, it would have been a great occasion for jubilation, but even though he is not physically present, I am confident that he is very much pleased by this work of translation.”

Again Srila Prabhupada is feeling the presence of his spiritual master, and he is perceiving that his spiritual master is pleased, and that is his goal. That is our goal—to please the spiritual master. Bhakti is defined as the effort, the authorized effort, to please Krsna. But we please Krsna by pleasing the spiritual master (yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado). Therefore Srila Prabhupada directed all of his efforts toward pleasing his spiritual master, and he felt that his spiritual master was pleased, even though he was not physically present. Even though he could not approach him physically and hand him the book and see him turn the pages and smile with pleasure and show the book to visitors and talk to other disciples about how pleased he was that the book had been published, still Srila Prabhupada could perceive that he was pleased.

When the spiritual master departs and leaves behind his instructions, we can by following his instructions appreciate his presence. And when we can truly appreciate his presence through such service to his instructions, it can be a very personal, intimate reciprocation—as much as if the person were physically present. Thus, Srila Prabhupada feels that his spiritual master is pleased and that therefore his work has been successful—but only by his spiritual master’s grace.

“Even though he is not physically present, I am confident that he is very much pleased by this work of translation. He was very fond of seeing many books published to spread the Krsna consciousness movement. Therefore our society, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, has been formed to execute the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.”

Srila Prabhupada engaged us and even now engages us in the same mission, for the same purpose: to fulfill the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. This is the principle of disciplic succession. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave the order:

prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama

He wanted the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and Krsna consciousness to be spread in every town and village of the world. That same order came through disciplic succession to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who specifically ordered Srila Prabhupada to spread Krsna consciousness in the English language. English is the international language, especially in the Western world, and pretty much all over the world people are being influenced by the West. They want to imitate the West, even in India, unfortunately. So Srila Prabhupada thought if the Westerners become Krsna conscious, if the Americans become Krsna conscious, then the Indians, who are so anxious to imitate the Americans, will imitate them and become Krsna conscious again. And actually Srila Prabhupada’s strategy worked. When he attempted to preach in India before he came to America, he was not very successful, because, as he said, the people of India were too absorbed in politics and economic development, but when he came back with his American and European disciples, then the Indians took note. So, Caitanya Mahaprabhu desired, prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama/ sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama—“in every town and village of every country of the world, My name will be preached.” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta took the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and sent Srila Prabhupada to preach specifically in English. And Srila Prabhupada took the order, came to America, and wrote books that would remain after he left and that could be translated into all the languages of the world.

I had the experience myself. I was the first devotee from ISKCON to go to Nigeria, and when I got there I found that there were some educated African men who already knew about Krsna consciousness. I thought, “How do they know about Krsna consciousness?” It turned out that one of them had gone to England to study and had gotten some of Srila Prabhupada’s books there. He brought them back to Africa, to Nigeria, and circulated them among his friends. So they already knew about Krsna consciousness before any devotee even reached there.

So that is the beauty of the message, the vani: it is not limited by time or space. Our physical presence is limited. We can be in only one place at one time. But the vani has its own existence and can travel without the restrictions of time and space. We are fortunate that Srila Prabhupada gave so much of himself in his books. One reporter asked Srila Prabhupada, “What will happen to your movement after you die?” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “I will never die. I shall live forever in my books, and you will utilize.” So we are also part of that whole process, and if we play our part, however insignificant, we will also get the benefit of being connected to the disciplic succession.

“The International Society for Krishna Consciousness has been formed to execute the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

“It is my wish that devotees of Lord Caitanya all over the world may enjoy this translation . . .”

Srila Prabhupada wanted his spiritual master to be pleased, but he also wants everyone to be pleased. He wants all devotees to be pleased, not just his spiritual master.

“. . . and I am glad to express my gratitude to the learned men in the Western countries who are so pleased with my work that they are ordering in advance all of my books that will be published in the future. On this occasion, therefore, I request my disciples who are determined to help me in this work to continue their cooperation fully, so that philosophers, scholars, religionists, and people in general all over the world will benefit by reading our transcendental literatures, such as Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.”

Srila Prabhupada directly addresses us and requests us to continue our cooperation. He always said that this is not one man’s work, and he appealed to us to help him. Many of you have seen the video of Srila Prabhupada’s lecture in Los Angeles in which he says that his guru maharaja asked him, “If you get some money, print books.” There Srila Prabhupada appealed to us in the same words: “Kindly help me.” He asked us to print as many books in as many languages as possible and distribute them throughout the whole world. “Then the Krsna consciousness movement will automatically increase.” So that is his instruction to us. We have our specific instructions, but here is a general instruction for all of us: to help expand the publication and distribution of transcendental literature—and, I may add, to exemplify what is written in the books.

You may be surprised, but once, Srila Prabhupada hypothetically asked some disciples why he was successful, why his mission was successful. He said that it was not just the books—there are many other institutions that publish books but haven’t had the same success. He said that it was because the devotees exemplified the ideal life described in the books. So this is another challenge, or another service—to exemplify what is written in the books, so that when people receive the books and read them they don’t think, “Well, that all sounds very nice, but is it really practical?” We want them to come here and actually see, “Oh, this is just what I read in the books. This is practical. I want to become part of this.” Then our service to our spiritual master will be complete.

“Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, dated November 10, 1974, at the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Bombay.”

Hare Krsna!

Are there any questions or comments?

Syamasundara dasa: You began by saying that when you went to the door it was locked. Can you please elaborate?

Giriraj Swami: Well, I can’t really say why it was locked. Generally the door was not locked. Maybe there was too much ecstasy going on. [laughter] I can’t say more.

Mahalaksmi dasi: You mentioned that Srila Prabhupada not only fulfilled the instruction of his spiritual master who was in his heart but that he also listened to and considered the indications that he received from others. So, we can take instructions from the spiritual master and from senior devotees. Now, if the spiritual master of the disciple is not present on the planet, this is easy to understand, but when the spiritual master is present and we also listen to and consider the advice of other Vaisnavas, how do we bring the two together and consider both the instructions of the spiritual master and the instructions of the senior devotees?

Giriraj Swami: Mahalaksmi says that not only did Srila Prabhupada receive instructions from his spiritual master but he also took advice from others. And this true—but only when the advice was in accord with the order of his spiritual master. When Srila Prabhupada approached Sumati Morarji in Bombay for free passage on her Scindia steamship company and she said, “Swamiji, you are too old to go to America. You will get sick there. You may even die there. You should not go,” he did not take it that his spiritual master was speaking through her. He said, “No, I must go.” So the first criterion is that the advice should further the effort to serve the spiritual master’s instructions, not contradict or detract from them.

As far as whether a detail is favorable or not, again we have authorities that we can consult—sadhu sastra guru vakhya. Sadhu means, as you said, other devotees. Sastra is the scripture. I know devotees who have been in doubt or in some dilemma; they don’t know what to do or what not to do. Then they open one of the books and feel they get the answer. The answer just jumps out at them from the page. And then there is the Lord in the heart, the guru in the heart, and as we become more sincere and surrendered and ready to do whatever is best for our service, the Lord in the heart will help us. As Srila Prabhupada said, “One receives inspiration from Krsna within the heart and confirmation from the spiritual master without.” We can also see any devotee who gives us appropriate instruction or confirmation as a spiritual master, a siksa-guru. The main thing is to be sincere enough to receive inspiration from within and intelligent enough to recognize valuable instruction from without.

Devotee: [inaudible]

Giriraj Swami: I’ll rephrase the question, because it included a misquotation. So, I’ll rectify the quotation. What the verse from the Bhagavad-gita says, what Krsna says, is,

samo’ ham sarva-bhutesu
na me dvesyo ’sti na priyah
ye bhajanti tu mam bhaktya
mayi te tesu capy aham

“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Bg 9.29) There are variations on the same idea in other places, but the basic point is that although Krsna is equal to everyone, as one surrenders to Him He reciprocates accordingly, and because the devotees have surrendered to Him, He especially reciprocates with the devotees. Now, the more the devotee is surrendered, the more Krsna reciprocates. The more the devotee gives himself to Krsna, the more Krsna gives Himself to the devotee. Now, what is your question?

Devotee: How do Krsna and the spiritual master and the devotees react to someone who is struggling to become Krsna conscious?

Giriraj Swami: They help him. But everyone struggles, not only newer or weaker devotees. Everyone struggles. Srila Prabhupada struggled. He struggled to spread Krsna consciousness, and he even said that he liked to see his disciples struggle. So we never give up the struggle. We never graduate from the struggle. We don’t retire. We always struggle. But the difference is that as we become more purified we are able to perceive Krsna’s pleasure and the spiritual master’s pleasure even in the midst of the struggle.

Srila Jiva Gosvami says that the pure soul feels happy only in the happiness of the Lord. For example, sometimes in India the husband will leave his wife and children in the village. Of course, there is the joint family system there, so it’s not like he is abandoning them, because the extended family members are there to support them. But he leaves his wife and children in the village and goes to the city to earn some money. He may be living on the street, hardly eating—just some chickpeas or dry chapattis—yet he will very carefully save his money and send it home to his wife to spend on the children so that they can have milk to drink and decent clothes to wear, so that they can go to school and grow and learn. Externally he is suffering because he is accepting great austerity, living on the street and eating just dry bread and chickpeas, but when he receives news that their children are eating nicely, drinking milk, growing strong and healthy, and going to school, he feels pleasure. So if such love is possible even in material life, it is certainly present, in the purest form, in spiritual life. Thus, the devotee may be struggling externally, but internally he is thinking and feeling that Krsna is pleased, and that gives him pleasure. In fact, his happiness lies only in Krsna’s happiness.

Another example, from Srimad-Bhagavatam, is similar: A traveler leaves home to search for wealth in distant places—sometimes in the ocean, sometimes in the forest, and sometimes in the mountains. He suffers many troubles along the way, but all such troubles are mitigated as soon as he remembers his family, and when he reaches home, he forgets all the troubles completely. In the same way, the devotee, although subjected to many tribulations in the effort to serve and preach in the material world, knows that in the end he will be reunited with Krsna and his spiritual master, and that thought enables him to bear all the suffering along the way. Although externally the struggle always continues, internally we feel our connection with our spiritual master and Krsna. We perceive their pleasure, and thus can find pleasure even in the struggle itself.

Thank you all very much.

Hare Krsna.

Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta ki jaya!
Nitai-gaura-premanande hari-haribol!