Associating with devotees (SB)
SB Canto 1
Material society, friendship and love are all different phases of lust. Home, country, family, society, wealth and all sorts of corollaries are all causes of bondage in the material world, where the threefold miseries of life are concomitant factors. By associating with pure devotees and by hearing them submissively, attachment for material enjoyment becomes slackened, and attraction for hearing about the transcendental activities of the Lord becomes prominent. Once they are, they will go on progressively without stoppage, like fire in gunpowder. It is said that Hari, the Personality of Godhead, is so transcendentally attractive that even those who are self-satisfied by self-realization and are factually liberated from all material bondage also become devotees of the Lord.
SB Canto 2
If one is in good association he can develop the mode of goodness, and if in bad association he may develop the mode of darkness or ignorance. Nothing is stereotyped. One can change his habit by good or bad association, and one has to become intelligent enough to discriminate between good and bad. The best association is the service of the devotees of the Lord, and by that association one can become the highest qualified man by the grace of the Lord's pure devotees. As we have already seen in the life of Śrīla Nārada Muni, he became the topmost devotee of the Lord simply by the association of pure devotees of the Lord. By birth he was the son of a maidservant and had no knowledge of his father and no academic education, even of the lowest status. But simply by associating with the devotees and by eating the remnants of their foodstuff, he gradually developed the transcendental qualities of the devotees. By such association, his taste for chanting and hearing the transcendental glories of the Lord became prominent, and because the glories of the Lord are nondifferent from the Lord, he got direct association with the Lord by means of sound representation. Similarly, there is the life of Ajāmila (Sixth Canto), who was the son of a brāhmaṇa and was educated and trained properly in the discharge of the duties of a brāhmaṇa, but who in spite of all this, because he contacted the bad association of a prostitute, was put into the path of the lowest quality of caṇḍāla, or the last position for a human being. Therefore the Bhāgavatam always recommends the association of the mahat, or the great soul, for opening the gate of salvation. To associate with persons engaged in lording it over the material world means to enter into the darkest region of hell. One should try to raise himself by the association of the great soul. That is the way of the perfection of life.
SB Canto 3
When one engages in the spiritual activities of devotional service, naturally he does not get any opportunity to engage in sense gratificatory activities. Kṛṣṇa conscious activities are performed not blindly but with perfect understanding of knowledge and renunciation. This kind of yoga practice, in which the mind is always fixed upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead in devotion, results in liberation in this very life. The person who performs such acts gets in touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Caitanya, therefore, approved the process of hearing from realized devotees about the pastimes of the Lord. It does not matter to what category of this world the audience belongs. If one meekly and submissively hears about the activities of the Lord from a realized soul, he will be able to conquer the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is unconquerable by any other process. Hearing or associating with devotees is the most important function for self-realization.
SB Canto 4
Here Dhruva Mahārāja plainly says that a devotee has no more bodily interest. He knows that he is not the body. From the very beginning, therefore, without wasting time in bodily exercises, a devotee searches out a pure devotee and simply by his association becomes more advanced in spiritual consciousness than any yogī. Because a devotee knows that he is not the body, he is never affected by bodily happiness or distress. He is not interested in bodily relationships with wife, children, home, bank balance, etc., or in the distress and happiness which come from these things. This is the special advantage of being a devotee. This status of life is possible only when a person is interested in associating with a pure devotee, who always enjoys the fragrance of the lotus feet of the Lord.
There is no other means for elevating one from the lowest stage of life to the highest stage but the execution of devotional service; as advised in the previous chapters of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, one can raise himself from the lowest position to the highest simply by associating with devotees and hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly from their mouths.
As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.25.25):
- satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido
- bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ
- taj-joṣaṇād āśv apavarga-vartmani
- śraddhā ratir bhaktir anukramiṣyati
Simply by the association of pure devotees one can understand the transcendental name, fame, quality and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has repeatedly said:
- 'sādhu-saṅga', 'sādhu-saṅga'—sarva-śāstre kaya
- lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya
- (CC Madhya 22.54)
Simply by associating with a pure devotee, one becomes wonderfully advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Sādhu-saṅga, or association with a devotee, means always engaging in Kṛṣṇa consciousness by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and by acting for Kṛṣṇa. Specifically, chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra purifies one, and this chanting is therefore recommended by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam: (CC Antya 20.12) by chanting the names of Kṛṣṇa, the mirror of the heart is cleansed, and the devotee loses interest in everything external. When one is influenced by the external energy of the Lord, his heart is impure. When one's heart is not pure, he cannot see how things are related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Idaṁ hi viśvaṁ bhagavān ivetaraḥ (SB 1.5.20). He whose heart is purified can see that the whole cosmic manifestation is but the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but he whose heart is contaminated sees things differently. Therefore by sat-saṅga, or association with devotees, one becomes perfectly pure in heart.
SB Canto 5
The four sinful activities are illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling. These are the means by which one gets another material body that is full of miseries. In the Vedas it is said: asaṅgo hy ayaṁ puruṣaḥ. The living entity is not really connected with this material world, but due to his tendency to enjoy the material senses. he is put into the material condition. One should perfect his life by associating with devotees. He should not become further implicated in the material body.
When, by associating with sādhus and engaging in devotional service, one is gradually freed from the material conception due to knowledge, practice and detachment, the knot of attachment in the heart is slackened. Thus one can get freed from conditional life and become eligible to return home, back to Godhead.
O My sons, you should accept a highly elevated paramahaṁsa, a spiritually advanced spiritual master. In this way, you should place your faith and love in Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You should detest sense gratification and tolerate the duality of pleasure and pain, which are like the seasonal changes of summer and winter. Try to realize the miserable condition of living entities, who are miserable even in the higher planetary systems. Philosophically inquire about the truth. Then undergo all kinds of austerities and penances for the sake of devotional service. Give up the endeavor for sense enjoyment and engage in the service of the Lord. Listen to discussions about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and always associate with devotees. Chant about and glorify the Supreme Lord, and look upon everyone equally on the spiritual platform. Give up enmity and subdue anger and lamentation. Abandon identifying the self with the body and the home, and practice reading the revealed scriptures. Live in a secluded place and practice the process by which you can completely control your life air, mind and senses. Have full faith in the revealed scriptures, the Vedic literatures, and always observe celibacy. Perform your prescribed duties and avoid unnecessary talks. Always thinking of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, acquire knowledge from the right source. Thus practicing bhakti-yoga, you will patiently and enthusiastically be elevated in knowledge and will be able to give up the false ego.
In these four verses, Ṛṣabhadeva tells His sons how they can be freed from the false identification arising from false ego and material conditional life. One gradually becomes liberated by practicing as mentioned above. All these prescribed methods enable one to give up the material body (liṅgaṁ vyapohet) and be situated in his original spiritual body. First of all one has to accept a bona fide spiritual master. This is advocated by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: śrī-guru-pādāśrayaḥ. To be freed from the entanglement of the material world, one has to approach a spiritual master. Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet (MU 1.2.12). By questioning the spiritual master and by serving him, one can advance in spiritual life. When one engages in devotional service, naturally the attraction for personal comfort—for eating, sleeping and dressing—is reduced. By associating with the devotee, a spiritual standard is maintained. The word mad-deva-saṅgāt is very important. There are many so-called religions devoted to the worship of various demigods, but here good association means association with one who simply accepts Kṛṣṇa as his worshipable Deity.
Simply by associating with exalted devotees, anyone can attain perfection of knowledge and with the sword of knowledge can cut to pieces the illusory associations within this material world. Through the association of devotees, one can engage in the service of the Lord by hearing and chanting (śravaṇaṁ kīrtanam). Thus one can revive his dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness and, sticking to the cultivation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, return home, back to Godhead, even in this life.
To become liberated from material bondage, one must give up the association of worldly people and accept the association of devotees, positive and negative processes are mentioned in this regard. Through the association of devotees, one develops Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which is dormant within. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is giving this chance to everyone. We are giving shelter to everyone who is serious about progressing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We arrange for their lodging and board so that they can peacefully cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness and return home, back to Godhead, even in this life.
King Rahūgaṇa said: This birth as a human being is the best of all. Even birth among the demigods in the heavenly planets is not as glorious as birth as a human being on this earth. What is the use of the exalted position of a demigod? In the heavenly planets, due to profuse material comforts, there is no possibility of associating with devotees.
Human birth is a great opportunity for self-realization. One may take birth in a high planetary system among the demigods, but due to the profusion of material comforts, one cannot gain release from material bondage. Even on this earth those who are very opulent do not generally care to take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. An intelligent person actually interested in getting freed from the material clutches must associate with pure devotees. By such association, one can gradually become detached from the material attraction of money and women. Money and women are the basic principles of material attachment. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore advised those who are actually serious about returning back to Godhead to give up money and women in order to be fit to enter the kingdom of God. Money and women can be fully utilized in the service of the Lord, and one who can utilize them in this way can become freed from material bondage. Satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ (SB 3.25.25). Only in the association of devotees can one relish the glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just through a little association with a pure devotee, one can become successful in his journey back to Godhead.
By thoroughly analyzing the materialistic way of life, any sane man can understand that there is not the least happiness in this world. However, due to continuing on the path of danger from time immemorial and not associating with saintly persons, the conditioned soul, under illusion, wants to enjoy this material world. Material energy sometimes gives him a chance at so-called happiness, but the conditioned soul is perpetually being punished by material nature. It is therefore said: daṇḍya-jane rājā yena nadīte cubāya (CC Madhya 20.118). Materialistic life means continuous unhappiness, but sometimes we accept happiness as it appears between the gaps. Sometimes a condemned person is submerged in water and hauled out. Actually all of this is meant for punishment, but he feels a little comfort when he is taken out of the water. This is the situation with the conditioned soul. All the śāstras therefore advise that one associate with devotees and saintly people.
- 'sādhu-saṅga', 'sādhu-saṅga'—sarva-śāstre kaya
- lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya
- (CC Madhya 22.54)
Even by a little association with devotees, the conditioned soul can get out of this miserable material condition. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is therefore trying to give everyone a chance to associate with saintly people. Therefore all the members of this Kṛṣṇa consciousness society must themselves be perfect sādhus in order to give a chance to fallen conditioned souls. This is the best humanitarian work.
The real mission of life for the conditioned soul is to reestablish the forgotten relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and engage in devotional service so that he may revive Kṛṣṇa consciousness after giving up the body. One doesn't have to give up his occupation as a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra or whatever. In any position, while discharging his prescribed duty, one can develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness simply by associating with devotees who are representatives of Kṛṣṇa and who can teach this science.
After many, many births, when the results of one's pious activities mature, one gets an opportunity to associate with pure devotees. Then one is able to cut the knot of bondage to ignorance, which bound him because of varied fruitive activities. As a result of associating with devotees, one gradually renders service to Lord Vāsudeva, who is transcendental, free from attachment to the material world, beyond the mind and words, and independent of everything else. That bhakti-yoga, devotional service to Lord Vāsudeva, is the real path of liberation.
SB Canto 7
Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira thought that because he was a gṛhastha there was no hope of his being liberated, and therefore he asked Nārada Muni how he could get out of material entanglement. But Nārada Muni, citing a practical example from his own life, established that by associating with devotees and chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, any man in any condition of life can achieve the highest perfection without a doubt.
SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13
Saintly persons (sādhus) think of Kṛṣṇa twenty-four hours a day. They have no other interest. Why should people neglect the association of such exalted spiritual personalities and try to associate with materialists, taking shelter of nondevotees, most of whom are proud and rich?
A sādhu is one who is engaged in devotional service to the Lord without deviation (bhajate mām ananya-bhāk).
- titikṣavaḥ kāruṇikāḥ
- suhṛdaḥ sarva-dehinām
- ajāta-śatravaḥ śāntāḥ
- sādhavaḥ sādhu-bhūṣaṇāḥ
"The symptoms of a sādhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime." (SB 3.25.21) A sādhu is suhṛdaḥ sarva-dehinām, the friend of everyone. Why then should the rich, instead of associating with sādhus, waste their valuable time in association with other rich men who are averse to spiritual life? Both the poor man and the rich man can take advantage of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, and here it is advised that everyone do so. There is no profit in avoiding the association of the members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has said:
- sat-saṅga chāḍi' kainu asate vilāsa
- te-kāraṇe lāgila ye karma-bandha-phāṅsa
If we give up the association of sādhus, saintly persons engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and associate with persons seeking sense gratification and accumulating wealth for this purpose, our life is spoiled. The word asat refers to an avaiṣṇava, one who is not a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, and sat refers to a Vaiṣṇava, Kṛṣṇa's devotee. One should always seek the association of Vaiṣṇavas and not spoil one's life by mixing with avaiṣṇavas. In Bhagavad-gītā (7.15), the distinction between Vaiṣṇava and avaiṣṇava is enunciated:
- na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ
- prapadyante narādhamāḥ
- āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ
Anyone who is not surrendered to Kṛṣṇa is a most sinful person (duṣkṛtī), a rascal (mūḍha), and the lowest of men (narādhama). Therefore one should not avoid the association of Vaiṣṇavas, which is now available all over the world in the form of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.
|Compiled by||Haya +, Visnu Murti + and MadhuGopaldas +|
|Completed sections||ALL +|
|Date of first entry||August 9, 0009 JL +|
|Date of last entry||October 20, 0009 JL +|
|Total quotes||16 +|
|Total quotes by section||BG: 0 +, SB: 16 +, CC: 0 +, OB: 0 +, Lec: 0 +, Conv: 0 + and Let: 0 +|