One by one, the Vaiṣnavas of yore have departed from this world, thereby indicating to us to be more attentive in our search for our ultimate goal of life (paramartha). Our lifespan is extremely limited and yet, in spite of having the opportunity, facility, and knowledge of the path to Sri Kṛṣna’s Holy Feet, we are not endeavouring to fully immerse ourselves in bhajana. Under the impressions of many, many past lives we have forgotten our own identity. Instead, this body and all that is related to it by maya has come to be our own; our everything. The result of this is that we have deprived ourselves of the attainment of our actual dearmost—Sri Kṛṣna, the embodiment of all delightful mellows (akhila-rasamṛta-mūrti).Without transforming the ego, it is not possible to begin the search for Sri Kṛṣna. What the mundane ego prompts us to do will inevitably be mundane and gross. Without transcending this barrier of maya, the search for paramartha cannot begin. When one understands his origin in Vaikunṭha—the spiritual kingdom transcendental to maya—then automatically, one’s greed for and sense of habitual duty towards the objects of the material world disappear. “I am an eternal servitor of Sri Bhagavan,”—when this awareness awakens, then love for Sri Kṛṣna, His personal associates, and anything connected with Sri Kṛṣna automatically surges forth. To serve Sri Kṛṣna and His devotees, knowing one’s relationship with Them (sambandha-jñana), is known as hari-bhajana. Prior to the awakening of pure sambandha-jñana, there may be mixed devotion (misra-bhakti), such as offering all of results of one’s activities etc., but there cannot be pure devotion (suddha-bhakti). Suddha-bhakti might be extremely rare, but yet, that is our goal. One may find many enchanting things in the orchard of the fruitive workers (karma-kandis), but none of them will be of use in getting Sri Kṛṣna. The real fact is that without being established in the knowledge of the Self (atma), one cannot practice actual vaikunṭha-bhajana. It would be foolish to waste this precious human birth in chasing the mundane and ordinary under the regular course of affairs. In fact, we should make the best use of a bad bargain.
I am pleased to hear that you are engaged in only taking the Name of Sri Hari. The scriptures, as well as our predecessor Acaryas, have advised us to give up karma (fruitive activity), jnana (knowledge), yoga (meditation), tyaga (renunciation), vrata (accepting vows) and tapasya (practising austerities), and have advised us to practice only harinama:
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
(Bṛhan-naradiya Purana 38.126)
“In this age of Kali there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative for spiritual progress other than the Holy Name, the Holy Name, the Holy Name of the Lord.”
Therefore, forgetting all fascination for any other type of discipline and understanding that there is no difference between the Name and the Named, chant the Holy Name. There is no sadhana greater than this. No other way will yield faster results. Nama-bhajana is the topmost among the thousands of limbs of devotion and is the essence of the teachings of Sri Caitanyadeva. Pretending to call out to Bhagavan Sri Hari while having somebody or something else in mind does not constitute nama-bhajana. On the contrary, it is an offence unto the Lotus Feet of the Holy Name. I shall consider myself fortunate if both of you lovingly continue your nama-bhajana and worship of the Supreme Lord.
When we begin Nama-bhajana, the agents of maya try to create problems and obstacles in our spiritual progress. But the devotee of Sri Bhagavan is not the least bit disturbed by this. In fact, all these obstacles propel his devotion and devotional fame to greater heights. All potencies originate from one source which is factual real (vastava) and true (satya). Therefore, how can any potency, including the material potency of that vastava-vastu, the Supreme Controller, harm those who are working only out of love for Him?
Ignorant persons, enmeshed as they are in material worldly objects, always undergo suffering in the material world and are continuously in a state of fear. But the pure devotee or the intelligent person knows that Sri Kṛṣna is the Supreme Controller. This is why those who worship Sri Kṛṣna never fear anything or anyone, as there could never be any cause for them to fear. Maya enters the heart of the jiva and increases suffering, fear and lamentation born of ignorance in the same proportion as the separation that there is between the jiva and Sri Kṛṣna. There is a big difference between show bottle or recreational spirituality and actual kṛṣna-bhakti. Dovetailing all of one’s desires with the desires of Sri Kṛṣna is known as suddha-bhakti. We must endeavour for this. When you belong to Sri Kṛṣna, Sri Kṛṣna will also belong to you.
You have to be vigilant, making sure you are not diverted due to attachment to material and temporary religious practices. If you analyse in detail the characters of those who try to obstruct you in your path of hari-bhajana, you will find that they are leading their lives deeply engrossed in activities that are totally averse to Bhagavān Sri Kṛṣna. Moreover, the views of such enslaved souls and those of pure devotees can never be similar. The difference in their views is natural and must necessarily be there. But the wise and clever devotee, keeping intact his devotion to bhakti, does not withdraw from usual interaction with the world around him. Only those activities that are against bhakti must be avoided. There is no need to abandon material and social activities that are not averse to suddha-bhakti. I do not see why householder devotees should give up their routine social activities. You should cooperate with or help your relatives at the time of functions such as marriages and so on. However, eating non-vegetarian food and remnants of food offered to demigods is strictly prohibited.
If no one from your family or from the society you live in were highly educated, then taking this plea, would you also wish to remain uneducated? Similar is the case with spiritual knowledge. No wise man on this planet will advise you to keep yourself devoid of such invaluable spiritual knowledge. Rather, you will be advised by any well-wisher to set a high standard from which the others will benefit. For the sake of the temporal, do not harm your actual, spiritual interest (paramartha). Consider this carefully: How much can you flatter others for the sake of material comforts? How much will you benefit and for how long? What good will it accrue to either of you? A human being may die at any moment. How much will your sympathy towards such people benefit them after your death and vice versa? Remember that at the time of our death, all objects related to the body will be left behind and we will have to go far away. Do not ever be concerned about pleasing the ordinary conditioned souls who cannot differentiate between good and bad, who are attached to lust, anger and greed, and enveloped by evil bad habits. Sri Bhagavan is the protector and maintainer of all. Do not waste your invaluable and tender devotional life blindly following some helpless and hapless foolish people who are bereft of their own eternal welfare.
Without enthusiasm, no progress can be made in any field. With great enthusiasm, call out to Sri Bhagavan as much as you can. Chant the maha-mantra on your beads with concentration and devotion. Knowing yourself to be the property of Sri Kṛṣna, you will have no desire to gratify the senses of others.
Sri Kṛṣna is the embodiment of all transcendental delightful mellows (akhila-rasamṛta-mūrti). He is therefore competent to satisfy the prayers of devotees of any of the different mellows. Those who do not have any ulterior motive in their hari-bhajana will get the opportunity to fully savour the Form of the Supreme Lord filled with transcendental mellows. In whichever mellow a devotee serves Him, Bhagavan Sri Kṛṣna will reciprocate accordingly . Bhagavan can only be attained by adopting the devotional path because only devotion is competent to do so. For this to happen, we will have to sacrifice all our material comforts and material inclinations. It is useless to sacrifice one’s own self—body, mind and speech—for the happiness of worldly people who are averse to Bhagavan. It will only be appropriate to offer the gift of sacrifice to the All-Powerful Bhagavan Sri Kṛṣna, Who is All-Existence, All-Knowledge and All-Bliss. Go on chanting the Holy Name of the Supreme Lord without apprehension. He will definitely absolve you of all your anarthas.