Srila Gourkishoredas Goswami Maharaj II
As published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
Edited by Paramahamsa Paribrajakacharyya Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj
ASCETICISM and epicurianism are alike opposite to the principle of devotion. It does not follow; therefore that spiritual living is realisable by following the middle course between those two extremes. Had this been so spiritual living would have in only a form of worldliness? But there is nevertheless a close parallelism between mundane and spiritual life. It is not, however, possible for the material mind to find out the nature of this parallelism by any speculative interpretation of the words of the Scriptures. Spiritual life is a living and substantive entity always revealing himself to other spiritual entities who are inclined to lead the spiritual life. In order to realise the significance of the conduct of a sadhu it is necessary for one to make up his mind to lead the spiritual life. But very few persons in this world are prepared to do so in real earnest. That is the reason why most people are liable to grossly misunderstand the conduct of a sadhu.
The appearance of a sadhu on the mundane plane is to provide an opportunity to conditioned souls to approach him with the purpose of being enabled to lead the spiritual life. Srila Gourkishoredas Goswami Maharaj could not find a single person in this world who was inclined that way. He actually expressed himself to this effect by refusing to communicate to anybody the truth which he desired to impart to all persons for the mere asking. This is also the meaning of his instruction to the Editor not to divulge the message of the Absolute to any person of this world.
That he himself chose to lead the life of an ascetic in view of the people of Nabadwip was intended as a sort of protest against the life of debauchery that was led by a section of the people is the name of religion. The teaching of Sree Chaitanya does not describe asceticism as the mode of life that is to be led by the devotee. Vishnu should be worshipped by all persons. He can be worshipped by a person in whatever circumstances one may be placed in this world. It is not at all necessary for a person to change his external mode of life for becoming eligible for worshipping Vishnu. But this does not mean that it is necessary for a person to lead an immoral life. It is possible for an immoral person, nay it is also his duty, to worship Vishnu. He is eligible for the same if only he is really willing. A moral person is not eligible for the worship of Vishnu if he is not willing to worship Him. Willingness to serve Vishnu is the only condition of eligibility for all persons. But one, who actually worships Vishnu, is no longer capable of sinful conduct. In fact such conduct would be a contradiction in term. The sinful disposition means unwillingness to serve Vishnu. If a person is willing to serve Vishnu he cannot also at the same time be unwilling to serve Him. Anything that is done by a person who is willing to serve Vishnu is absolutely free from all taint of sinfulness. This may not be always apparent to superficial observers.
Asceticism practised by worldly persons is as much aversion to the service of Vishnu as any other course of life that may be pursued by such people. This is the teaching of Sree Chaitanya and of all the revealed Scriptures. A number of scoundrels have taken advantage of this undoubtedly true interpretation to mask their aversion to Vishnu by wearing the garb of Babaji's or Vaishnavas. A Vaishnava is one who worships Vishnu. A Vaishnava is, therefore, entitled to lead any sort of external life that may please Vishnu. His condition is that of the Paramahansa who cannot be contaminated by worldliness. It is also possible for a Paramahansa to lead even the external life of a debauchee without committing sin. Those scoundrels practise their debaucheries in broad day under the plea that they are Paramahansas. The object of Srila Gaurkishore Das Goswami Maharaj, in leading the life of a strict ascetic, was to promulgate by his own conduct the teaching of Sree Chaitanya that no one who assumes the garb of a Vaishnava must carnally associate with a female even in his external conduct. Sree Chaitanya disowned the junior Haridas for transgressing against this rule of conduct that is binding upon all persons who renounce the world for the whole-time service of Vishnu. Paramahansas are not as plentiful as blackberries. Srila Gaurkishore Das Goswami Maharaj kept strictly aloof from all association with the so-called Babajis and Matajis that are so plentiful now-a-days.
If an immoral person is willing to serve Vishnu he is guided by His Mercy to the feet of the real Vaishnava for being enlightened regarding the nature of His spiritual service. As soon as he is so enlightened he is automatically cured of all sinfulness. But he does not immediately become a Paramahansa. The Guru admits him to spiritual noviciate during which has to lead a strictly regulated life. It is only when the Guru is fully satisfied with his conduct as novice that he is pleased to bestow on him the higher kind of eligibility that is consequent upon the manifestation of loving devotion to the Feet of Shree Krishna.
The Goswamis are alone eligible for the loving service of Krishna. They are designated Goswamis to signify that they are complete masters of their senses. It is never possible for a real Goswamis to have any carnal or other worldly desire. The Goswamis, as a matter of fact, do not move on the mundane plane. They lead the spiritual life proper. They are not contaminated by association with worldly people. On the contrary it is because they choose to associate with the people of this world out of their causeless mercy that the latter are enabled to get rid of their worldliness by such association. But a Goswami can never be inclined to carnality. It is not, therefore at all inconvenient or undesirable for a Goswami to follow the teaching of Lord Chaitanya can avoid all association with females for any carnal purpose. It is only the real Goswamis who are eligible for teaching the religion of loving devotion to the people of this world.
The town of Nabadwip and many parts of Bengal swarm with a number of worldly persons who claim to be the authorised teachers of the religion of loving devotion by right of seminal descent from the former Goswamis. They also call themselves Goswamis. This is wholly in contradiction to the teaching of Lord Chaitanya. No person, who is not master of his senses, can understand the nature of the loving service of Krishna. Neither can he teach it to others. But the pseudo-Goswamis are found to be most forward in undertaking to expound the Amorous Pastimes of Sree Krishna to public gatherings. They do so under the impression that the Divine Pastimes are similar to erotic performances of the carnal people of the world. The audience also follow their expositions in the same spirit. Such performances are, however, strictly forbidden by all Scriptures. They tantamount to nothing less than the worst form of blasphemy against Vishnu.
It is strictly in the public interest that these anthropomorphic caricatures of the function of the Acharyya should be forbidden by law as constituting, as they really do, also an offence against the sense of public decency and ordinary morality. It is no less necessary for the public to take the matter into their serious consideration for restoring the purity of religious practices in this country. Srila Gaurkishoredas Goswami Maharaj was a real Paramahansa . But he set the example of being a humble regulated servant of Lord Chaitanya in order to impress upon the public the necessity and the duty of acting in accordance with the teachings of the Scriptures. In this he was following in the footsteps of the former Acharyyas. The unique magnanimity of the followers of Lord Chaitanya consists in this that they prefer the welfare of the world to all other considerations. Their only prayer to Krishna is to be the agents of His Mercy for reclaiming the conditioned souls from the bondage of worldliness by imparting the real knowledge of their own selves and of their spiritual function. But the pseudo-Goswamis mislead public opinion on this all-important subject by setting up as teachers of the religion which they can but expound in a way that makes the people believe that the spiritual function is identical with the practice of promiscuous and open debauchery. Can there be imagined a greater or more condemnable disservice to humanity than such performance?
It is not our intention to extol asceticism. But we submit that the conduct of those, who pass themselves off as teachers of the religion of amorous loving service of Shree Krishna as taught by Lord Chaitanya and His associates and followers, should conform to the real teaching of the Lord and the requirements of decency and morality. We further submit that no follower of Lord Chaitanya who renounced the world ever intimately associated with females even in an external way. We submit that the most fundamental principle of the teaching of the Lord consists in the doctrine that no one is fit to be teacher of religion who does not follow the teaching of the Scriptures in his own conduct. Internal asceticism, in respect of the things and connections of this world, is the inevitable accompaniment of the practice of loving devotion to the Feet of Shree Krishna. The external conduct of Srila Gourkishoredas Goswami Maharaj corresponded to this internal attitude in order to enable all persons to understand the real meaning of the teaching of Lord Chaitanya and of the Scriptures.