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Krishna Talk 135 – Srila Sarasvati Thakura’s Disappearance Day

Krishna Talk 135 – Srila Sarasvati Thakura’s Disappearance Day
by Swami B.G. Narasingha

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(The following is a lecture on the disappearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta
Sarasvati Thakura given on 7th December 2007 at Kaliya-mardana Krsna Asrama
in Mulki, South India. After singing the song ‘Jayare jayare Jaya
Paramahamsa Mahasaya’ Srila Narasingha Maharaja spoke as follows…)

This song was written by Gopala Govinda Mahanta, an admirer and follower of
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. This song passed the scrutiny of all
of Sarasvati Thakura’s initiated disciples. We know that Srila Sridhara
Maharaja appreciated this song very much and he would always have it sung on
the day of Srila Sarasvati Thakura’s disappearance. Gopala Govinda Mahanta
was not an initiated disciple of Sarasvati Thakura. Generally we put so much
emphasis on proper initiation in order to become a proper disciple and
properly understand Krsna consciousness. But what is initiation? There have
been many people who have taken initiation from the beginning of time till
now, who later became the enemy of their guru. Simply taking initiation does
not mean anything. Yet it is a formality that is kept intact because if we
remove the form, then anything goes – there has to be some form. Srila
Sarasvati Thakura emphasized that we are the followers of substance, not
form. However, we have to give it some form, otherwise how will we find the
substance? There has to be some organization, and therein lies a problem
– giving form to the substance of God consciousness and thus allowing
people to connect, and simply becoming an institution in the material world
which is all about form and nothing about substance.

Therein lies the problem. This world is a problem! It is not a nice place.
Yesterday afternoon I was looking at the river here. It was so beautiful. But
as I looked down I saw a big fish come up and eat ten other smaller fish.
Then there was a crab that was crawling around trying to pinch everything in
sight. So even within beauty, if you go a little further, you will see that
there is only suffering, destruction and death. Presently we are making a
beautiful ghata by massacring all the shellfish that are around there cutting
our feet. We’re chopping them, smashing them, eliminating their existence.
That is this material world – a place of elimination. When you minimize
the dangers in your proximity then that is considered to be nice. There
actually isn’t anything nice. We say, “It’s a beautiful sunny day”,
but actually the sun is killing people – it’s giving people skin cancer;
it’s causing the algae to grow in the water. At the same time, if we
don’t have any sun, we’d die.


Some religionists think, “God created this world for us to enjoy.” But
another view says, “Well actually this whole universe could disappear in a
second – it could just fall into a black hole in space and disappear. In
fact, we’re lucky to be around because black holes are everywhere and
there’s only a few safe spaces in the universe.”

This place doesn’t seem to be meant for enjoyment – it seems to be set up
for fragile existence and ultimate destruction. The Christians are totally
wrong – God did not create this world for our enjoyment. Eternally it is
meant for His service. But some living entities are determined to enjoy.
People want to enjoy this material world, but everywhere there is disaster
and destruction, and now and again one may find a little safe zone where
material life can go on haphazardly for a while. But the whole universe is
screaming in our face that, “There’s a better life than enjoyment, find
out what it is!” The prospect of enjoying separate from Krsna does not
work. Therefore there is no enjoyment – there is only the illusion of
enjoyment. In fact, Srila Sridhara Maharaja said that Vaisnavas should not
use the word ‘enjoy’. When somebody visited his birthplace at Hapaniya,
he asked, “So you went to Hapaniya?”

They replied, “Oh yes Guru Maharaja, we went there and enjoyed it very

He said, “No, no – that is not a word in a Gaudiya Vaisnava’s

Sometimes I’ve seen amongst devotees saying goodbye to each other and they
say, “Enjoy your trip to Vrndavana.” It’s not about enjoyment.


So, as we were saying, generally much emphasis is given to initiation, but
when it comes down to it, what is initiation? Is it just a ceremony? Is it
just receiving some beads that cost a few rupees in the market? Is it
receiving some mantras and then writing them on a piece of paper and
memorizing them? Is it receiving a sacred thread that is also purchased in
the market? Is it offering grains into the fire that is said to be the mouth
of Visnu? What is it?

Initiation is actually a heart connection. It’s also described as knowledge
of one’s eternal relationship with Krsna that constitutes initiation. Many
people have knowledge, but knowledge can be very theoretical. But when
there’s a heart connection, when it’s deep within the plane of faith
(sraddha), then that connection is made and that is initiation. It is
possible to make that connection without going through all the required
ritualistic steps. For example, anyone can chant the Maha-mantra. Still it is
recommended that one should take shelter of a bona-fide guru and learn the
process of devotional service.

If you go back to ancient times, we see that Sukadeva Gosvami didn’t take
initiation. When he was born, he immediately ran away from home and went to
live in the forest. Vyasadeva wanted to instruct him, so he sent out his
disciples to collect wood and instructed them to chant a verse from the
Bhagavatam. Vyasadeva knew that if Sukadeva would hear this, he would become
attracted. When Sukadeva heard that verse he came out of his conscious
equilibrium of being unconcerned about the world and asked the disciples,
“Where did you get this sloka?” The disciples directed him to Vyasa’s
asrama, and there he heard the Srimad Bhagavatam. However he did not undergo
the rituals of diksa. So in the ancient world things were predominantly based
on substance. Initiation meant receiving the mantra, and receiving
instruction from the guru – there was no ritual. Lord Brahma was initiated
by Krsna – they didn’t sit down and perform a yajna or any type of
ritual. But these things developed in time because we’re not Lord Brahma or
Sukadeva Gosvami. Therefore, personalities of the class of Sukadeva and
Brahma developed a system because people in this world require such.

Particularly in this age institutions are unavoidable. There are institutions
and organizations for everything. The Deist movement in America that is
credited as being the religion of the founding fathers was not based upon
Christianity at all. In fact, most of the founding fathers could not stand
Christianity. They thought it was a foolish idea that was detrimental to
human society and they are the ones credited with the most enlightened
political doctrine that is called the American constitution.

But the Deists didn’t have any institution. They didn’t have any
churches, they didn’t have any meeting hall, and they had no official name.
They didn’t do any preaching, they didn’t have any coded book. They had
some letters by Thomas Paine that inspired them, but it wasn’t a scriptural
canon. Eventually they vanished.

Christianity was building churches everywhere. You go to some countries and
there’s a church on every corner. Even within half a mile of the Vatican
there’s twenty more churches. They’ve got them on the corner of every
single ancient city. That was their mood – the more churches, the better.
People go to churches, so open more churches – make an institution. The
Deists had nothing so they were almost forgotten. So there has to be some
rules and institutionalization in this world, there has to be some buildings.

One friend of mine, when he started preaching he said, “Temples are not
important. First just make a temple in your heart”. But then when he got a
lot of money he started opening temples. First he was criticizing Prabhupada
and ISKCON for opening many temples, but then when he got money and a lot of
followers he also started building temples. If you have a message, you have
to have an institution that people can come to. But simply joining that
institution and simply going through all the rituals does not constitute real


Real initiation is born from sraddha. What is the first and last word of the
Absolute? When you chant the maha-mantra, the first word is ‘Hare’ and
the last word is ‘Hare’. That is the first and last word of the Absolute.
What is Hare? Hare means Radharani. She is the internal potency of Krsna, and
where you find that first is in sraddha. She is Sraddha-devi. The effulgence
of Radha is sraddha. That comes and shines on the living entity. Our journey
to the Absolute begins with faith, and it ends with service to Radharani.
There are many types of service – serving Lord Narayana, serving Lord
Narasimha, serving Lord Rama, serving Lord Krsna in Dvaraka or Mathura and
serving Lord Krsna in Vrndavana in various rasas and this finally comes to
the highest type of service. Krsna is Vrajesvara, but Radha is Vrajesvari,
the feminine controller who controls Krsna by Her love, devotion and
surrender – then Krsna Himself becomes a servant of Radharani.

The first and last word of the Absolute truth is Hare – faith in the
beginning, and divine service in Goloka in the end. Everything else is there
to help us find where that faith is. Faith is the fundamental basis, and
faith changes and takes different shapes. It is called nistha, it is called
bhava and it is called prema. There are nine stages that faith goes through.
Faith itself becomes prema – pure love of Krsna. That has many shades and
varieties also.


All these things have to do with capturing the plane of our heart – not the
brain. Calculation can be our enemy, and the brain can be a dangerous and
fickle sense. The brain means the mind. Once I was talking with a man at a
university who said, “I’ve realized the truth”, and he pointed to his
head. And I replied, “I’ve realized what is meant to be true”, and I
touched my heart. Bhakti is not in the head, bhakti is in the heart. But that
doesn't mean this material organ that pumps blood – otherwise when the
heart dies, then bhakti also dies. Intuitively, when we speak of the self, we
point to the heart.

We intuitively know that the self is there. Even an animal has certain
intuitions. There are many God-given intuitions. However, as human beings, we
sometimes have less sense than animals. When an animal sees something hurts
him, he stays away from it. But human beings create machines that kill them,
cigarettes, junk food etc. You’d think they would change their lifestyle,
but no! Even if it’s killing them they don’t stop. But when an animal is
suffering, it analyses why and stops. So on some level, human beings are
dumber than animals, because they can’t give up the cause of their
suffering. In science we understand that there are reactions to certain
experiments. If you boil water, this happens; if you add this chemical, that
happens etc. But then on the physical plane, do they really think that they
can do anything to anybody and nothing will happen? That means they are less
intelligent. They can’t figure out what is actually the cause of their

Intelligent human beings can understand certain things, but there is a
certain propensity that always arises, and that is the search for God. People
in atheistic societies have tried to drive God out and they’ve destroyed
anything to do with religion. But as soon as that regime is gone, religion
just comes back again. This is not something that is created. This essential
drive in the human being is not due to his weakness. Some people think that
religions appeared because people thought, “Well, I can’t explain the
universe, I don’t understand biology or chemistry, I don’t know how
things work. I have a necessity to know, so I guess God did it all.”

Recently there was an article by a scientist from England and she begins by
saying that for centuries modern science and Christianity have banged heads.
When Christianity was developing they didn’t know about the universe, they
didn’t know the order of the planets, they didn’t know that the world was
round etc. Then science came along and discovered all these things and found
out that what the Bible said and what the church said wasn’t true. The
scientists then said that religion was invented simply because people
didn’t understand the world around them. This lady points out that that
idea falls flat on its face when you come to ancient India because at the
time that the Vedas were written, there was great scientific knowledge. In
fact it is written in the Vedic literature that the world is not flat, that
there’s the order of the planets, that there’s a thing called an atom
etc. So the argument that God was created out of necessity because mankind
did not understand the universe doesn’t work when you look at Vedic
civilization because they knew all these things and still they concluded
that, “God did it”.

Some people say that science and religion cannot be harmonized in any way,
but that’s also wrong. All this scientific knowledge was there in Vedic
times – in fact, some of the greatest scientists in the ancient world were
great spiritualists also. Actually science is born out of real religion, and
therein lies the issue – science in general has never examined real
religion. They have only examined the concocted religions in the western
world. They have never closely examined the body of Vedic knowledge. You will
find that some of them have, but with a biased viewpoint – they don’t like
the color of the people who wrote the Vedas, they don’t like the language
of the Vedas because it kind of makes them look bad.

Voltaire, the famous French philosopher, once said, “Everything has come
down to us from the banks of the Ganges.” But those kinds of statements
don’t get popularized; they get forgotten. There are scientists now, who we
would call educated researchers, that say there is a creator, and that the
universe screams this in your face all day long, nonstop. The most
intelligent conclusion is that the world was created and in order for there
to be creation there must be a creator. When they finally stop arguing about
whether or not there is a creator, they finally come to the question, “If
there is a creator, is He personal or impersonal?” Right now this debate is
on a very unintelligent level. These scientists are actually less
intelligent. Prabhupada said, “The reason they cannot understand is because
they are meat-heads. They eat meat.” 


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura liked this type of preaching – he
liked to challenge misconceptions, be they religious, philosophical or
historical. Of course, historical misconceptions are not so important, but
scientific misconceptions are very important. For example, look at Darwinism
– its not even knowledge, it’s an unproven idea that still rules the world.
Darwinism was already on the way out during the time of Bhaktivinoda and
Sarasvati Thakura, its death grip was broken, but still Darwinism is being
taught in schools. The old guard dies slow, but the good news is that finally
they will die and the new guard takes over and then new ideas have some

Young people are making a big noise about the government, the economy etc,
but they don’t understand that they don’t run this world – they don’t
control money until they get to about fifty years old in most cases. Those
above fifty run the world. They control all the money and everybody else is
simply eating biscuits. That’s the way it is, and that’s the way it’s
always been. Actually, the truth is America doesn’t even control it’s own
money – the European Bank does. Other organizations control the so-called
wealth of America. It’s the economic plan.

Prabhupada was also planning – he was walking up and down the room thinking
how to take over the world. Many times he’d ring his bell and his secretary
would come in, thinking he needs something. Then Prabhupada would say,
“Books for the intelligent, prasadam for the masses – this is what we
have to do”. He was not just sitting in his room thinking about some small
thing. He was thinking about how to take over the world.

In the material sense there are many people trying to control the world, and
from a religious sense also there are many people that want to control the
world. Nowadays there are some people who want to control India and convert
India to Christianity. There was a recent e-book I saw online written by some
Christians who want to convert India to Christianity. The book was called
‘Exposition of Damnable Heresies” – that kind of title belongs
somewhere in the 1700’s. The next thing to follow that is witch burning.
This is the sort of book that they used to shake in peoples faces before
burning them alive. Let these people loose and they would do it again. They
would light everybody who’s not a believer on fire. They have an office –
it used to be called ‘The Congregation of the Holy Office of the
Inquisition’, Now it’s called ‘The Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith’. They adjusted the sound of the name, but the business is the same.

Sometimes it disturbs me how devotees become so smalltime in their thinking.
Sometimes they say, “Well, what about me? What about my life?” I tell
them, “You don’t have a life. You’re just dying, and then the day comes
when it’s finished. What do you mean, ‘your life?’ Did you prescribe to
be born somewhere, a certain size, a certain color? Did you prescribe for
this? Did you even request it? You had nothing to say about it! So where do
you get this idea of ‘my life’? What part of it is yours? You don’t
know how many hairs are on your head, you don’t even know what your
skullcap looks like, but you say, ‘I want to lead my life’.


One friend of mine left Krsna consciousness on the plea that, “Well, I
never really had a relationship.” Fifty million lifetimes of buzzwords like
‘relationship’… what are you talking about? It is simply something
going on in the material mind. Your life belongs to Krsna. We’re just
riding on a chariot that doesn’t even belong to us. If you want to qualify
that then become a devotee of Krsna – then your life belongs to Krsna.
Devote your life to Krsna – that’s living your life properly. What is
this thing about ‘fulfilling a relationship’? Who? Where? Show me! There
is no fulfillment in the material world. In the end there’s only
disappointment. Then you will surround yourself with photographs and
trinkets, trying to convince yourself that you’re fulfilled. When you’re
dead and gone, they will tie them all up and throw them in a box. Did you
ever see all those black and white photos from the turn of the century and
World War II? Those were somebody’s dear photos and now they’re just in
an antique shop somewhere gathering dust. Nobody knows who those people were.
And even if you do make your mark and do something great in this world,
they’ll probably write something about you in the history books that is
wrong. You could be the next Tesla, but it’ll be a hundred years later
before we find out what you actually did. You could be a jerk and go in the
history books as a wonderful person, or you could be a wonderful person and
go down in history as a jerk! And how long will your name be famous? There
are names like Pythagoras and Plato from the ancient world, but how many
hundreds and millions of people have come and gone since then? What is your
real prospect? What is your life all about? What matters? Devotees are not
supposed to be like the everyday Joe in this world with a mundane job.
That’s not what Krsna wants. Krsna wants a revolution! He doesn’t
necessarily call for a violent revolution, but He wants a revolution of
consciousness. When you have a revolution of consciousness that means a
change of lifestyle. This thing where devotees try to live the American dream
and settle down in middle class America in row housing with a two-car garage
has nothing to do with why they came to Krsna consciousness. They should just
give it up!

One acarya has said, “I’m selling my house and moving to Vrndavana.”
Then in the next verse he says, “If nobody wants to buy my house, then
I’m just going to give it away’. The point is that there are better
things. If you can’t cash out, then give it away, burn it, throw it away
– who cares? Srila Sridhara Maharaja says, “Get out of the fire of the
thing that charms you and keeps you in the fire, whatever it is.” There is
nothing more important than Krsna Consciousness.

Unfortunately most living entities never realize this. Hundreds of billions
of people are dying every day and they don’t realize the real purpose of
life, they just float through. They accept some good times, some bad times,
and just move on – not upwards. They’d be lucky to simply attain a
second human life – and that’s almost impossible. This is not the India
of Satya-yuga where people are going to heaven or to Vaikuntha. This is the
India where 2.4 million people are dying of AIDS and going to hell. What is
the meaning of going to hell? It means that they’re not getting a good,
prosperous, wholesome birth in their next life. Practically everyone in India
believes in reincarnation. But they just think that they’re going to be a
human in their next life. They don’t think, “What about all the dogs?
Where did they come from? What about all the fish? Where did they come
from?” They just think, “I have many lives, next life I’ll be born in
this village.” Well, maybe… as a crow or a goat! Even that is doubtful.


Krsna consciousness is the most important thing. We say that Krsna
consciousness is not a matter a life and death – it’s more important
than that. Sarasvati Thakura had such a view. Can you imagine? He sends out
an invitation to come for the Gaura Purnima, festival, so people naturally
come. They spend the whole day together, and then, when the people go to
leave he tells them, “Don’t cheat me like this.” They are stunned and
tell him, “We’re just going back to our home. We have a job”, and he
says, ‘That doesn’t matter – nothing matters. You come now to

They’re not really seeing what he’s seeing. It would be like coming to
the temple and seeing Krsna Himself sitting on the altar eating, and after
seeing that, you said, “Well, I’ve got to go now. I have to get back to
work.” Who would do that? If you saw that, you couldn’t go back to work
anymore. If you realize Krsna, you won’t do that anymore, unless that is
what Krsna wants you to do.

Kunja-bihari was the secretary of the Gaudiya Matha. He had a job and gave
all his money to the mission of Sarasvati Thakura. And whenever he could take
a loan, he took a loan and he also gave that. He’s already giving his
salary, so how is he going to pay back the loan? Usually if you take a loan
you have to keep some of your salary to pay the loan; but he took all the
salary and gave it. Eventually he left and went to work in Basra in Iraq
where he got a higher paying job so that he could pay back the loans that he
took. Finally Sarasvati Thakura contacted him and he came back. Nobody tells
if he paid back the loans because that’s irrelevant. What we’re told is
he gave everything in the service to his guru.

Professor Nisikant Sanyal was another disciple of Sarasvati Thakura who was
also like that. He worked as a professor at Cuttack University. He would get
his monthly salary from the university and he would give everything to his
guru – everything! And then Sarasvati Thakura would give half back to
Professor Sanyal’s wife and say, “This is for your matha”. ‘Matha’
means their household.

Now, Prabhupada didn’t do that, and most of his disciples didn’t do that.
They didn't just come and give everything. But everyone has to face this
reality – if what we’re doing is not benefitting Krsna Consciousness, if
it’s not in the association of devotees then it’s just a waste of time.
That’s the real vision of life. Even people with big institutions decide
what they’re doing only based on their institution – they don’t do
things for the benefit of others. But if those others are going to join their
institution then “of course we can do that”. But if it’s just for the
broad benefit of others then, “No, we don’t want to do that. We can’t
help others.” This is not Krsna’s vision. Krsna’s vision is much
broader than the institution.

Once, Srila Prabhupada said, “Bring five hundred children for the
gurukula.” Then one devotee said, “But Prabhupada, we don’t have five
hundred children in ISKCON.” Prabhupada said, “ISKCON, Schmishcon! Just
bring children!” He didn’t care if they were ISKCON children or not
– bring children into the school and give them a proper training. Of
course, that was the ideal – in the end it became something different. But
it wasn’t that Prabhupada was thinking, “It has to be our ISKCON
children. The children have to sign up and be in ISKCON first.” It was,
“Let us train children. Let us train people.” It wasn’t just for one
group – it was for the world. It was not that he was creating a little
clique that was for itself and by itself. No – this is for Krsna, and in
order to be for Krsna you have to be attentive to the will of Krsna. When
you’re inattentive to Krsna’s will, you miss an opportunity. Many
spiritual institutions evolve into a scenario of missed opportunities that
ultimately becomes their total lifestyle.




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