[Following is a expert from a new issue of the GOKUL Magazine "The Message of Universal Divine Love". This magazine is a collection of divine sermons of various Gaudiya Vaishnava Acharyas.]
"The Supreme Lord Krishna manifests Himself in the material world in four forms as the Vaishnava, tulasi, the Ganges, and Srimad-Bhagavatam . The Deity Form of the Lord becomes worshipable only after it has been consecrated ritually and the Lord's presence has been invoked. These four things, however, are innately sacred."
(Caitanya-bhagavata, Madhya 21.81-82)
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada comments on this verse in his Gaudiya-bhashya commentary: "The Lord appears in the material world in these four forms. Upon seeing them, it is not immediately evident to ordinary people that they are the Lord Himself. However, because of their intimate connection with Him, they are called His prakasa-vigraha, or visible manifestations.
"Generally people think that the Deity Form of the Lord is only worthy of worship after being formally installed (prana-pratishtha). These four prakasa-vigrahas, however, are considered to be naturally worshipable; there is no need for any kind of ritual in order to elevate them to that status. We should look upon them as in the position of the enjoyer, or bhokta, as the master or prabhu, and as bestowers of divine grace and knowledge.
"Mahaprabhu himself says, 'Those who worship Me directly but neglect My devotees are in illusion and cause Me pain. Their offerings feel like a shower of burning cinders on My body. Just because one is chanting is no guarantee of success. I destroy anyone who tries to hurt My devotees:
je amare dasera sakrt ninda kare'If someone blasphemes My servant even once, then My Name will destroy him rather than fulfilling his desires."
mora nama kalpa-taru samhare tahare
(Caitanya-bhagavata, Madhya 19.209)Mahaprabhu, bright with His effulgence of golden light, raises His arms in the air and proclaims to the world, "Give up criticising Vaishnavas and take shelter of the Holy Name!":
anindaka hai je sakrt krshna bhaje"Verily I say that I will immediately deliver anyone who, free from the faultfinding tendency, worships Krishna, even for just a moment."
satya satya muni tare uddharibo hele
(Caitanya-bhagavata, Madhya 19.214)If one offencelessly chants Krishna's Name even once, then Krishna will liberate him from material bondage. However, a person may be well-versed in all the Vedas, but if he still maintains an offensive attitude towards the Vaishnavas, he is eternally doomed. Is it any surprise, then, that we often hear people say, "Although I have been chanting for years, I have no taste"?
Srila Prabhupada writes in the Gaudiya-bhashya: "When one stops his offences against the Vaishnavas and utters Krishna's Name even once, he easily receives the Supreme Lord's grace. Criticising the sadhuis the same as criticising the lotus feet of Sri Guru, and that is an offence against the Supreme Lord. Gradually degrading to the level of bhagavan-ninda, an offender of the Supreme Lord is not only deprived of receiving prema, but due to his namaparadha he does not even come anywhere near achieving the benefits of religion, wealth, or material enjoyment."
Kaviraja Gosvami reminds us: "There are offences to be mindful of when approaching krishna-nama. Offensive chanting never brings about the desired change of heart.
tad-asma-saram hrdayam batedam"If by vibrating the Holy Name of Krishna our hairs do not stand on end, our eyes do not flood with tears, and there is not a volcanic eruption of ecstasy in our bodies, our hearts must be covered in steel."
yad grhyamanair hari-nama-dheyaih
na vikriyetatha yada vikaro
netre jalam gatra-ruheshu harshah
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.24)It is written in the Caitanya-caritamrta that, "Simply vibrating the Name of Krishna once destroys all sin and then devotion gradually develops into love, krishna-prema. When we take the Name of Krishna in the mood of divine service, so much wealth is gained that the struggle for existence is over without our even trying. However, if one repeatedly takes the Name of Krishna and is not moved to tears, it is obvious that aparadha is preventing the seed of krishna-nama from sprouting."
Then what is our recourse? Kaviraja Gosvami says that in chanting the Name of Krishna, there is the consideration of offences, but in chanting the Names of Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, the most magnanimous manifestations of Divinity, there is no such consideration.
"If one chants the Names of Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu with even a little faith, he is immediately cleansed of all offences. Then when he chants krishna-nama, he feels ecstasy. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is unlimitedly magnanimous. Without worshipping Him, what hope is there for liberation?"
This does not imply that Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu bestow prema in the presence of aparadha. They are so magnanimous that whoever seeks shelter at Their lotus feet receives Their mercy. Soon the offences disappear and the offender feels love for Krishna.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura says: "If we surrender to Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, all our previous offences are instantly absolved. Then the merciful Holy Name showers us with divine love."
Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakura writes: "Krishna and Gauranga are Their Names, and Their Names are Their very selves. To consider Krishna inferior or less generous than Gauranga is ignorance. But the fact is, Gauranga and Nityananda are especially helpful to the fallen souls in achieving the goal of life. The more the jivas become fallen, the more merciful the Lord becomes. Gauranga and Nityananda are the ultimate manifestation of divine kindness, and within that kindness is found the sweetness of Krishna's pastimes.
"Krishna's generosity is confined to the liberated, the perfected yogis and those who have already taken shelter of Him. Gauranga Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, on the other hand, are so kind and generous that they take the most unqualified souls, free them from the offences that come of the selfish enjoyment mentality and, after liberating them, give them a place at the feet of Gaura-Krishna.
"Nevertheless, worship of Gauranga does not exclude the worship of Krishna, nor does it mean exclusively worshiping Mahaprabhu without seeing Him in terms of Sri Radha and Krishna. That kind of so-called devotion is fictitious, and is devoid of even a drop of the divine nectar of krishna-prema."
Mahaprabhu never tolerated Vaishnava aparadha. Ramacandra Puri, Devananda Pandita, and others are vivid examples of this truth. Even Mother Saci had to beg forgiveness from Advaita Acarya before the Lord would bless her with prema. Only when one sincerely approaches the offended Vaishnava and begs forgiveness will he be forgiven. Then offences disappear; otherwise the consequences are fatal. As long as the heart is covered by offences it is impregnable. Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings:
"Offences have made my heart as hard as steel and as cruel as thunderbolts. O Lord, even your Holy Name has no effect on it. I feel hopeless and helpless, O Lord, so I loudly cry your Holy Name. O Gaura! O Nitai! You two brothers are friends of the fallen. I am the most fallen, wicked person and You are oceans of mercy. So please save me!"
This is the critical difference between krishna-lila and caitanya-lila. Sri Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami concludes the Madhya-lila of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta with this secret revelation:
krishna-lila amrta-sara, tara sata sata dhara,"Krishna-lila is the cream of all nectar, only the confidantes of Sri Radha and Krishna and the eternally perfect souls can enter there. So how then should we conceive of caitanya-lila? The pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are an infinite reservoir from which thousands of streams of the nectar of krishna-lila are flowing in all directions, inundating everyone everywhere. May the swan of my mind swim there eternally, and dive deep into its infinite waves of nectar."
dasa-dike vahe yaha haite
se caitanya-lila haya, sarovara akshaya,
mano-hamsa caraha' tahate
(Caitanya-caritamrta , Madhya-lila, 25.271)
tad idam ati-rahasyam gaura-lilamrtam yat"Gaura-lila is deeply mysterious and confidential. It is the secret to devotion and love of Krishna. Those who are envious of Krishna and His devotees are like animals unable to taste its nectar. But I do not lament having described Mahaprabhu's lila because nothing is lost. Rather something is gained, because those devotees who are pure of heart expand the lila by tasting and relishing it again and again."
khala-samudaya-kolair nadrtam tair alabhyam
kshatir iyam iha ka me svaditam yat samantat
sahrdaya-sumanobhir modam esham tanoti
( Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 25.283)
by Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Gosvami Maharaja
The Journal of GOKUL (Global Organisation of Krishnachaitanya's Universal Love)