Lady devotee: We recently had a member of our family pass away. She was initiated by Srila Prabhupada. She had dedicated her whole life to serving Krishna. She had very few possessions. She was a very humble devotee. I'm wondering, when a devotee very suddenly passes away before old age, due to poor health or some circumstance, is that person going to be with Krishna? Are they taking birth immediately again in another body? Or, is there a subtle body that stays until the gross body is cremated? I'm not knowing what happens.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Continue what you are saying.
Brajanatha Prabhu: She's asking, is the process not complete until the ashes are given to the Ganges? Or, will that soul reach her destination before or after the ashes of the gross body are offered to the Ganges or Yamuna? Or, what is the destination?
Srila Narayana Maharaja: It depends on the devotee. It depends on whether she has really taken initiation or not - in the real, true sense. It depends on whether one is chanting krsna-nama properly and purely or not. Was she realizing her position or not? Has she attained nistha (the stage of steadiness in bhakti) or not? Has she attained the last fraction of bhakti - sraddha? If one actually has sraddha, he will think, "Even if anyone will cut me in so many pieces, I cannot give up harinama. Was there even a transcendental sraddha? Was there some desire to serve Krishna in the real sense? Perhaps she died without this. She was a pious person, and doing some sukrti. Perhaps she wanted to always have good association. She was doing so much book distribution, and making money and giving it to Srila Swami Maharaja out of duty, but she never had a high class of association. Perhaps her sraddha was still weak. In that case, whether her body was burned or put in a grave, there is no harm.
She may then take birth anywhere, in an ordinary devotee's house. Do you understand? In the home of a general devotee. There she may hear from childhood that only by serving Krishna can anyone be happy. Otherwise one can never be happy. In this next birth, she is chanting from the very beginning, but not purely. There are so many worldly desires and her heart is still not pure. So many anarthas, unwanted things, are there. Yet, gradually, she will come in the association of a somewhat higher devotee. There she will understand what is sraddha. From the beginning she will have a better chance to attain nistha. In her past life she had never attained nistha. Do you know what is nistha? I know you don't know.
Lady devotee: I don't remember.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Nistha (steadiness in bhakti). By intelligence one will determine, "I must chant, because there is no other way for success." At this stage one is not realized, but still there is a very strong determination. He will not think, "Should I marry; should I not marry? Narada never married, but the father of Sukadeva, Vyasadeva, did. What should I do?" In sastra it has been written that this world is like a well. What is that well? To marry and to be very attached to one's family. If one is attached to Krishna, will he be attached to this world? Without such attachment to Krishna, one is in dilemna about what to do: "Should I remain in my house with my father, mother, wife and children, or should I give up all these things and go to high-class association, always chanting, hearing, and developing my faith?" He's now in a dilemna. This is not nistha-bhakti.
Do you understand? Nistha will come, but it is not there yet. If one dies in this stage, what will happen? He was without nistha. Rather, he was in dilemna about what to do. In that case, in his next birth he will seek a higher class of association, and now he may have nistha. Now he has determined, "Oh, I should be in worldly life and, like the Pandavas, like the gopis, I will do bhajana." Or, he will determine, "I will be like Sukadeva Gosvami, I will not marry." He has decided; he has come to a conclusion: "And I will always serve Vaisnavas." In his second birth Bharata Maharaja decided, "I will never go to worldly desires, or anything which can cause attachment and make me give up attachment to Krishna." He has decided this.
Suppose a taste has come for chanting and remembering hari-katha. Ruci, a taste has come, and suppose that he dies in the stage of ruci. What will become of him? Now he has come in the standard of bhakti. If he dies at this stage Krishna will manage that he will go to any high class of guru. There, serving him and always hearing from him, asakti, attachment for Krishna, may come.
If he dies in the stage of asakti, what will become of him? Oh, he will surely take birth in the house of a very exalted Vaisnava. In Gita it has been told, "Sucinam srimatam gehe." From there he will practice his sadhana only for attaining bhava-bhakti. From that stage it may be that in one birth, two births, a hundred births, or a thousand births, he may attain suddha-prema, suddha-sattva, and that is rati (bhava).
If anyone dies in the stage of rati, he has nothing to do. Surely he will become like Sri Sukadeva Gosvami, Sri Narada Gosvami, Srila Rupa Gosvami, and Srila Sanatana Gosvami. From the beginning he will start his suddha-sattva bhakti, his rati or bhava. Then, if he is qualified in rati, matured in rati, what will happen? At once, when he leaves his body, Yogamaya at once manages that his soul should go to Mahaprabhu. He will go to the planet and place where the lila, pastimes, of Mahaprabhu are going on. There he will chant and remember with a high class of rati, in the association of Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Svarupa Damodara and Sri Raya Ramananda.
If he gives up his body after he has matured in this rati, Yogamaya will take him where Krishna's pastimes are going on, and he will come in the womb of any gopi -according to his taste, or in other words, according to his specific relationship with Krishna. If he is in a relationship of friendship, he will come like a brother of Sridama, Subala, Madhumangala, and others like them. If he is in the relationship of vatsalya, parental affection, then he will come like Nanda Baba and Yasoda. For perfecting any of these relationships he will have to come through the womb of any gopi. And, if he is seriously following Srila Rupa Gosvami - if he is not only raganuga, but especially rupanuga, then he will come in the womb of a special gopi. When he (she) grows up she will be married anywhere, especially in Yavat, and she will be associated with a high class of kayavuha (a gopi who is a bodily expansion) of Srimati Radhika. If that association is closed to her, then the door of her home will be closed, or locked, and she will give up her life and meet Krishna by her separation mood. And, if she is associated with nitya-siddha, gopis, then she will meet Him very quickly. If there is a trace of unwanted things, if there are any children, one cannot join rasa by that body, not even if one has come by the womb of a gopi. Never. Her husband will check her, and she will give up this body. Of course it is not that one can give up the body; there is no death there. So she gives up that mood that, "He is my child and he is my husband." At that time all obstacles will go away, and Yogamaya will then take her to rasa, and take her to serve the gopis.
There are so many laws, as in court; so many laws or rulings for different aparadhas. Suppose you take a gun and play with it, and by chance a man is shot and dies. If you can prove that you had no wish to kill him, that it happened by chance, by accident, you may be given very little punishment - not death. However, if you have a motive to kill anyone, and if you have aimed your gun at him and shot it, but the person was not shot, still you will have to go to court and be punished severely. There are so many laws, and all these laws have come from these transcendental laws. This is the shadow of that.
If anyone is chanting three lakhs of names, always reading books and serving so much, and he also has some worldly motivation, what will be the result? His whole bhakti is poisoned. He is performing those activities for himself. However, suppose anyone appears like a Queen, not doing anything, not chanting much harinama - like Srila Rupa Gosvami, and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. He is simply calling out, "O Krishna". Fainting, he cannot chant. Even in one entire day it may be that he cannot chant even 16 rounds. Even by chanting one Krishna name, he faints for the whole day and night, and he is serving Krishna internally. Tears are always coming. He is always weeping, weeping, his bodily hairs are standing on end, and all sattvika-bhavas are coming. So he cannot chant, though he wants to. What will be the result? He will become more than Haridas Thakura. Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami wanted to chant but they could not. Sankya purvaka.They were calling out, "He radhe vrajadevi-ke. "O Krishna, where are you?" They went to Giriraja Govardhana and there they were weeping still more. Then they went to Nandagaon, Varsana, and here and there. They were always lamenting. When they will count their names?
Mahaprabhu was at the Ratha Yatra festival - for the whole day. What was He doing? He was calling out, "Se ta prananatha paina. My beloved, I have now met you", and He became faint. For the whole day he was doing this, here and there. Has He completed his rounds? After the festival, when He went to Gambira, He was lamenting with Sri Raya Ramananda, "Where is my Krishna?" "Oh, Krishna is in your heart". Then He became very happy. He wanted to see Krishna. He was lamenting like this until morning. When will He complete His chanting? This is also true for Sri Svarupa Damodara, who was always pacifying Mahaprabhu. When will He have time to chant? Actually, this is more than chanting. Oh, this is the fruit of chanting. Do you understand somewhat? I have told this in so much detail, so it may be that you cannot understand.
Lady devotee: In my understanding, depending on the person's level of faith.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Oh, don't try to take your understanding. Always try to understand the understandings of our guru-parampara. Otherwise you cannot understand. Your intelligence always fails. Always fails. Try to forget your understanding and try to accept the understanding of our guru-parampara. Especially Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha, and more recently, in the very simple words of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. His words are very simple.
And follow also Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, but in a real sense. If all the devotees, sannyasis and so many brahmacaris with saffron cloth were serving him and following him, then why did they leave the institution? Why all this? Why did they leave and become weak? Why? It means that they are not aware of what Srila Swami Maharaja wanted. They were not following so much. They were following like this: They were making money even by selling ganja pan. They thought, "No harm. We should make money for Prabhupada." But your Prabhupada has never, never told them to do that.
So we should try to give up our understanding, and try to fulfill our hearts by our guru-parampara. Do you understand? If so, then you can realize, you'll have a taste in chanting and remembering, and there will be no doubts.
Lady devotee: What I wonder is, if our goal is to serve Krishna, and to serve guru, then why is there so much arguing amongst each other? "I belong to this group, I follow this person, I belong to that group."
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Because our goal is not fixed. What is your goal? Do you know? I know that you have a goal to serve, but in what way? - We should serve the devotees.
Vanamali dasi: Of course.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: Of course? Can you serve all the devotees as you are serving your husband?
Lady devotee: I can try.
Srila Narayana Maharaja: I know you cannot. You cannot tell, or not tell. But I can tell. You cannot serve. Service requires a special relation. Now our goal is not fixed. What is our goal? "I should serve Krishna. I am an eternal servant of Krishna". But what kind of servant are you? This goal must be fixed, and it will come if you are initiated in the true sense; not only by fire sacrifice or when the guru changes your name. Simply that will not do. Srila Vyasadeva initiated Srila Sukadeva Gosvami. Narada initiated Vyasadeva. Brahma initiated Sri Narada. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhju initiated Rupa. Who is the guru of Srila Rupa Gosvami? Caitanya Mahaprabhu is his guru. But we see there was no fire sacrifice performed. Mahaprabhu never directly gave any mantra. Still, Srila Rupa Gosvami always thinks that Mahaprabhu is his Guru.
This is called transcendental initiation. And ours - although with fire sacrifice -after some days we become weak and give up everything. Again we take fish, eggs and so on. This 'initiation' is really for kanistha adhikaris, to fix in their minds that, "Oh, I am initiated." You must follow the rules. By this you are admitted in the class, or the school of initiation. When you will be matured, you will realize your special relation with Krishna. What is the relation? Krishna is my friend or son, or Krishna is my beloved. What kind of beloved? There are so many things to be learned. When that learning will be completed, then you will realize this special relation with Krishna, and all your unwanted things will go. Diksa: Di--divya jnana, and ksa - all unwanted things will go. Then it is really diksa. Otherwise diksa is not completed. I think it is very rare in this world that the goal is achieved. At this time one is really a devotee.