Bhaktisiddhanta Vani

Instructions of Srila Prabhupada

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Is it possible to recognize a devotee by assessing his external activities, degree of education or financial status?

Answer: Definitely not! Materialists are fond of sense gratification and the renounced are detached from material enjoyment, recognizing it as the source of misery. Both materialists and renunciants are full of material desires and are therefore non-devotees. They cannot comprehend the attitude of a devotee, i.e. dedication to devotional service and appropriate renunciation. If one tries to gauge a devotee by his outward appearance, i.e. his class of birth, wealth, education, beauty, or other material attributes, or by the lack of them, then he is bound to be deceived. Even the demigods are unable to understand Vaishnava’s activities and conduct. Even if the karmis, jnanis, materialists, and renunciants look at the devotees with their gross vision, they cannot see the devotee’s real identity. A devotee who serves the Lord lacks no opulence because the Lord Himself possesses all six opulences. Rather a devotee offers their opulence to the Lord, unlike the materialist and renunciants. Neither do the devotees relish it nor give it up. Therefore, whether one sees a devotee with opulence or with no evident opulence, one should not disrespect him because that devotee knows how to utilize everything perfectly in the Supreme Lord’s service. A devotee is neither a sense gratifier nor a renounced person. He is something other than either of these because he gratifies his beloved Lord’s senses. It is only possible to develop this conception by the mercy of a devotee. Therefore if one engages completely in Sri Hari’s service, constantly chanting His names, giving up false ego, and taking shelter of the lotus feet of a pure devotee of the Lord, then one’s attempts to evaluate both the Lord and His devotees with one’s gross mind as well as one’s own material desires will diminish. Then one will surely attain eternal auspiciousness.

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How should we live?

Answer: People will always discuss worldly (materialistic and mundane) topics, but we should remain inattentive to such discussions. If we have a strong desire to advance on the spiritual path, no obstacle can divert us. Show respect towards materialists but do not adopt their behavior. Rather, mentally reject them. Discuss literature like Saranagati, Prarthana and Prema-bhakti-chandrika. To associate with Shastra (scripture) is certainly good. Gradually, we will require the association of saintly persons to learn the art of worshipping the Lord.

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Who can give us Krishna?

Answer: Krishna is not an object of this material world. Krishna is the Supreme Lord of the universe. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna is the Ultimate Truth. Krishna is ever eternal. Krishna is the only worshipable deity. Krishna is the Supreme Enjoyer. No person belonging to this material world can give us Krishna, who is The Master of Maya. Krishna belongs to the devotees only, that is why only the devotees can give us Krishna. Krishna appears only in the pure mind of a service-oriented person. Krishna’s devotees, being merciful to all living beings, distribute Krishna door to door in the form of Sri Harinam. The most magnanimous Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu also distributed Shri Harinaam everywhere. Shri Harinaam is the only object of our worship and the ultimate truth for all living beings. By great fortune, if we can get the shelter of a pure devotee of Krishna and sincerely, completely surrender at his lotus feet, then he will surely give us Krishna.

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Are the Vaishnavas Akinchana?

Answer: Definitely Yes! The Vaishnavas are under the shelter of the Supreme Lord and are His servants. Their only pride is to be His servants. They are Akinchana, without material possessions, because they want nothing in this world. Nothing in this world tempts them. There is nothing in this world or the next that is more desirable than the beauty of Krishna’s toenails. Whenever we are not attracted to serving Krishna purely, it must be understood that we are suffering from illusion and have been attacked by the many faces of Maya.

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What should we pray for?

Answer: A devotee prays “O Radha-Raman! Please protect me! May I not bring my own destruction by leaving your devotional service.” Those who have entered family life should pray “O Lord, may I not get overly attached to family life. May my desire for material life be exhausted. May my focus remain always fixed on your service. Please protect me!

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Is there an exceptional need for sincerity?

Answer: We must be sincere. With complete determination, we must abandon negative elements like fraudulency, dishonesty, and mundane discussions. Feeble-mindedness is not sincerity, as true sincerity and pretentious sincerity; also true punctuality and apparent punctuality can never be the same. The conception of a sadhu cannot be the same as a foolish person. We must be engaged in the chanting of the holy names of the Supreme Lord 24 hours a day, failing which we will lose the divine taste of Haribhajan.

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