108 Essential Instructions

  1. Paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam: “All glories to the congregational chanting of Kṛṣṇa’s holy names.” Śrī Mahāprabhu wrote these words in His Śikṣāṣṭakam. They are the ultimate goal of the Gauḍīya Maṭha.
  2. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the object of all worship. He is the only enjoyer. All others are enjoyed by Him.
  3. Everyone other than the devotees of Hari are fools and killers of the self.
  4. It is the duty of each resident of the Maṭha to learn tolerance.
  5. Instead of maintaining faith in their own strength, the devotees who follow in Śrī Rūpa’s footsteps attribute all their qualities to the original source.
  6. Those who cultivate mixed religious principles cannot serve the Supreme Lord.
  7. All of you should serve Hari together, keeping one goal in mind.
  8. A holy place is wherever topics about Lord Hari are being discussed.
  9. We do not perform pious or sinful activities, nor are we fools or mental speculators. We are the shoe-carriers of the non-duplicitous devotees of Hari, and are initiated into the mantra, ’kīrtanīya sadā hariḥ: “Always chant the holy names of Hari.”
  10. Try to rectify yourself rather than blaspheming the nature or activities of others. That is my instruction.
  11. Our supreme occupation is to serve the residents of Vraja, who are afflicted by separation from Kṛṣṇa.
  12. An exalted devotee or mahābhāgavata knows that all others are his spiritual masters. Therefore, an exalted mahābhāgavata is certainly jagad-guru, the spiritual master of the whole world.
  13. If we want to attain the ultimate goal of life, we must abandon all varieties of popular opinion and hear the instructions of Vedic literature.
  14. Everyone should desire the ultimate goal of life.
  15. The Lord’s intimate devotees have no desire other than to serve the lotus feet of Śrī Rūpa’s followers.
  16. There is no way to connect ourselves with the transcendental object except by aural reception.
  17. The moment we have no protector, the objects around us will turn into enemies and attack us. Our only protector is hari-kathā, spoken by genuine devotees.
  18. A person who flatters cannot become a guru or preacher.
  19. It is better to live as a bird, animal, ant, or other insect than to cheat. Only a person devoid of the propensity to cheat attains auspiciousness.
  20. Vaiṣṇavism is another name for simplicity. The servants of swanlike Vaiṣṇavas are simple-hearted. That is why they are the best of brāhmaṇas.
  21. It is the first duty of the most compassionate souls to divert the wretched taste of the living entities. It is more beneficial to save even one soul from Mahāmāyās prison house than to open millions of hospitals.
  22. The association of those who have not developed their propensity to serve the Supreme Lord is never desirable, even if it appears most pleasing.
  23. Preaching, without practicing what one preaches, is a limb of karma.
  24. Our attachment for material life will decrease when we simply serve the Supreme Lord and His devotees.
  25. Our main disease is to accumulate objects not related to Kṛṣṇa.
  26. We have not come to this material world to become carpenters or mechanics; we are simply the messengers of Mahāprabhu’s teachings.
  27. We will not live in this world long; our human birth will become successful if we give up our lives while chanting Hari’s glories.
  28. The dust from the lotus feet of Śrī Rūpa, who fulfilled the desire of Śrī Caitanyadeva, is our most desirable goal of life.
  29. This material world, which is averse to the Supreme Lord, is a painful testing place. Tolerance, humility, and praising others all help us worship Lord Hari in this world.
  30. We are given a father and mother in every lifetime, but we may not receive beneficial instruction in each lifetime.
  31. Externally, a devotee’s activities and the mischief of a pseudo-devotee may appear the same, but they are different—as different as the sky and earth, as different as milk from limestone mixed with water.
  32. Those who mistakenly consider nondevotional propensities devotional will certainly get into trouble. It’s like mistakenly cheating a blacksmith of steel—the end product will not be reliable.
  33. As soon as we learn about the truth, we should become fixed in it. We should not waste even a moment of the time we have left in our lives on sense gratification. Rather, we should use all our time to worship Hari.
  34. Many people wrongly accept imitation (anukāra) as following (anusara). They are two separate things. To dress like Nārada in a play is imitation, but to practice the devotional path Śrī Nārada displayed, is following.
  35. Only those who are constantly engaged in glorifying the topics of Hari are sādhus. Only those who are always busy in the Supreme Lord’s service are sādhus. Only those who aim all their endeavors at pleasing Kṛṣṇa are sādhus. Only those who have no business other than to serve Kṛṣṇa are sādhus.
  36. If Nārāyaṇa personally gives Himself away, He will still have something left to give. However, the Lord’s devotees can give Nārāyaṇa away completely.
  37. Do not become a spiritual master in order to become envious of others. Do not become a spiritual master to remain absorbed in sense gratification. If instead you can become a nonduplicitous servant of Kṛṣṇa and attain His mercy, you have nothing to fear.
  38. Unless and until we accept the spiritual master as a manifestation of the Supreme Lord—as nondifferent from Him—we will not be able to chant the holy names.
  39. To teach us how to serve Him, the Supreme Lord incarnated as the spiritual master.
  40. The living entities will never benefit by studying hundreds of books or by acting whimsically.
  41. In the present age, it is common to be cheated by those who misguide others in the name of religion.
  42. The confidential purport of the undisputed truth that is spoken boldly will be realized only after hundreds of lifetimes or even hundreds of yugas. Unless we spend hundreds of gallons of hard-earned blood, it will not be possible to make others understand the truth.
  43. The Supreme Lord does not accept items offered by those who do not chant one hundred thousand holy names a day.
  44. Association is the main stimulus for developing the desire to worship Hari. If we associate with nondevotees, we will make material advancement; if we associate with devotees, our propensity to worship Hari will be progressively enhanced. Association with devotees is the most important asset of the human form of life. Please do not become averse to it.
  45. As soon as we feel the inconvenience of mundane life, the Lord becomes our shelter and awards us the qualification to engage in His service.
  46. As long as we are filled with anarthas we will not become fortunate enough to attain the service of Śrī Rādhās lotus feet. Those who are unqualified by their anarthas but who eagerly discuss the transcendental pastimes of the supremely worshipable Śrī Rādhā are certainly sense enjoyers, covered materialists, or prākṛta-sahajiyās.
  47. When all anarthas are removed while chanting the holy names, then the form, qualities, and pastimes of the Lord automatically manifest. There is no need to endeavor artificially to remember the Lord’s forms, qualities, and pastimes.
  48. All of you should preach the teachings of Śrī Rūpa and Raghunātha with great enthusiasm. Our most desirable goal is to become a particle of dust at the lotus feet of the followers of Śrī Rūpa.
  49. Do not give up the worship of Hari, even if you have to face hundreds of dangers, criticisms, or harassments. Do not become discouraged by seeing that most of the world’s people do not accept the truth. Neither give up your worship of Hari nor your speaking of kṛṣṇa-kathā, your life and soul. Always chant Hari’s names while thinking yourself lower than a straw in the street and being more tolerant than a tree.
  50. We are not interested in becoming excellent workers or devoted to religious practices. Our only goal is to become a particle of dust at the lotus feet of Śrī Rūpa birth after birth.
  51. May we never become indifferent to performing the sacrifice of śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana. Simply remaining progressively and unswervingly attached to this sacrifice will bring us all perfection. All of you should boldly preach the teachings of Śrī Rūpa-Raghunātha with great enthusiasm under their guidance. 
  52. If I give up preaching the truth, fearing that speaking the plain truth will make me unpopular, it means I have given up the authorized Vedic path and accepted the unauthorized, non-Vedic path. I will have become godless. It means I have no faith in God.
  53. The Supreme Lord has two representations in this material world: transcendental sound vibration (the holy name), and the Deity form, who enjoys eternal spiritual pastimes.
  54. We serve the Lord’s Deity form by chanting the Lord’s holy names. Consciousness is served only by consciousness.
  55. The Lord’s devotees call Him by chanting His holy names for His pleasure.
  56. The Deity, who performs transcendental pastimes in Vaikuṇṭha, is the merciful incarnation of the Lord’s eternal, original form in this world. The Deity is the direct manifestation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Vaiṣṇavas are not idol worshipers who imagine that God has either a material form or no form at all.
  57. Just as the Brahma-sūtra briefly gives the purport of the Vedas, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Tattva-sūtra properly and briefly describes the purport and conclusion of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the commentary on Brahma-sūtra.
  58. Unless we study Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam under a Vaiṣṇava ācārya who himself follows the rules and regulations, we will never understand the purport of Brahma-sūtra. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the natural commentary on Brahma-sūtra.
  59. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī has specifically revealed that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the original commentary on Vedānta-sutra. Śaṅkarācārya’s commentary is foreign to the Vedānta-sūtra. Since the author of Vedānta-sūtra wrote Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to serve as its commentary, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the commentary. We can find the actual purport of Vedānta-sūtra only in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
  60. The word bhakti cannot be applied to anyone other than Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is the only object of devotional service. Brahman is the object of impersonal knowledge, Paramātma of yoga, but Kṛṣṇa the supreme object of service.
  61. Every word has two types of meanings: meaning derived from an enlightened viewpoint, and meaning derived from an unenlightened viewpoint. The abstract meaning of a word that is distinct from Kṛṣṇa, Viṣṇu, or Śrī Caitanyadeva, and which indicates something else, is called the unenlightened meaning. The meaning of words derived from the enlightened viewpoint all indicate Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
  62. The actual person behind the word “Kṛṣṇa” is not the person the multitude of blind followers understand by words like “God”, “Allah”, or even “īśvara” or “Paramātmā.” These words are used in various languages to indicate the separate sources of effulgence connected with Kṛṣṇa. Such persons cannot grasp the complete understanding of the word “Kṛṣṇa.”
  63. There is no work as beneficial as serving the spiritual master. Among all kinds of worship, worship of the Supreme Lord is topmost. Service to the spiritual master is superior to service to the Supreme Lord. Unless this conviction is firmly rooted in our hearts, we cannot take advantage of our spiritual master’s association. He is our maintainer and we are his servants.
  64. By taking shelter at the lotus feet of the spiritual master, we can become free from illusion, lamentation, and dependence on others. If we aspire to receive our spiritual master’s openhearted blessings, then the spiritual master will award us with auspiciousness.
  65. Ordinary spiritual masters cannot save us from death or give us new life. This is why their position as spiritual master is partial. But one who has saved us from the cycle of birth and death and helped us realize the eternal truth is the complete and eternal spiritual master.
  66. Do not consider the spiritual master an ordinary mortal being. He gives us unlimited life. He is the expert physician to cure our material disease and is our sole benefactor.
  67. As long as a person follows the path of argument he cannot attain the shelter of a spiritual master.
  68. If I surrender myself one hundred percent at the lotus feet of that person upon whom the most auspicious Supreme Lord has bestowed all auspiciousness, then he, the spiritual master, awards all auspiciousness to me. If I am deceitful and live a double standard, however, making a show of performing devotional service, then he will also deceive me.
  69. It is my duty to completely follow my spiritual master’s instructions, and to live according to the arrangements he has sincerely made for me. This is the symptom of a surrendered soul.
  70. If we are so fortunate as to associate with the Lord’s devotees, then all credit goes to the Lord, because He is the one who has provided the opportunity. The Lord makes us realize fearlessness through the spiritual master’s association. The Lord arranges that a suitable spiritual master will appear before us according to our degree of surrender. Those who are truly fortunate will avail themselves of his presence.
  71. Gurus who pursue impersonal knowledge, perform fruitive activities, practice mystic yoga, observe severe vows, undergo austerities, are expert in the art of magic, and who cheat, are not fit to be called guru, or “heavy.” They are all laghu, light. They are not the jīvas’ benefactors, but are envious of themselves and others. Only mahābhāgavata Vaiṣṇava gurus are causelessly merciful to the living entities and feel distressed upon seeing the distress of others.
  72. The state of Brahman the impersonalists imagine is not actually Brahman. The conception the yogīs maintain of becoming one with Paramātmā or Bhagavān is more offensive than the idea of merging into the Brahman effulgence. The liberation attained by merging into the Brahman effulgence denies the living entity his own existence, but those who want to become one with the Lord expect to maintain their personal existence while toppling the Supreme Lord’s position. Mahāprabhu has said that becoming one with the Supreme is more abominable than merging into the Brahman.
  73. Those nondevotees who try to reconcile matter with spirit consider good and bad association, rice paddy and weeds, and devotional and nondevotional services equal. Otherwise, the synthesis of matter and spirit does not certainly become the perversion of impersonalism. For a Vaiṣṇava, it may become pure devotion. The synthesis of matter and spirit certainly becomes the perversion of impersonalism in their hands. The impersonalists say they accept everything, but they do not accept the Supreme Lord nor His eternal names, forms, qualities, pastimes, or associates.
  74. The Lord’s various incarnations—Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Varāha, Matsya, Kūrma, etc.—are all transcendental Viṣṇu-tattva forms. Their names, forms, qualities, associates, and pastimes are eternal. Each of them controls Maya. Each has an eternal abode in Vaikuṇṭha. Out of compassion for the living entities in this miserable world, and by Their own sweet will, these incarnations appear and exhibit Their opulence. Yet even though They incarnate in the material world, They remain fully transcendental and always protect Their independent natures.
  75. The most auspicious activity for humankind is to become delivered from the clutches of material existence and to enter into Kṛṣṇa’s eternal family. Taking shelter of the spiritual master can free us from Maya. There is no other way to achieve this freedom.
  76. Devotional service to the Supreme Lord is our supreme occupational duty, but material sense enjoyers cannot understand what devotional service is.
  77. Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura considers the attainment of devotional service most desirable. The previous ācāryas have concluded that devotional service is the supermost goal of life. Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Śrī Rūpa’s follower, has revealed to the world that the attainment of devotional service is to be cherished.
  78. The highest form of meditation is glorification of Hari. Meditation was prescribed for those desiring perfection during Satya-yuga, but Satya-yuga did not provide darśana of the most magnanimous Śrī Gaurasundara. Since Śrī Gaurasundara appears in Kali-yuga, the great meditation of glorifying Hari has been recommended for this age. Because discrepancies entered the meditation process in Satya-yuga, in Tretā-yuga, sacrifice was introduced as the chief means of perfection. Because discrepancies entered the sacrificial practices of Tretā-yuga, Deity worship was introduced as most important in Dvāpara-yuga. Because of the inevitable discrepancies that would enter the practices of Deity worship, the great worship of chanting the Lord’s holy names has been recommended for Kali-yuga. Just as a dying patient is administered a potent but poisonous pill at the last moment, when he has been disappointed by all other treatments and has no other hope, so the chanting of the Lord’s holy names has been recommended by those who have seen the pathetic condition of those living in Kali-yuga. The Lord has invested all His potencies in His holy name. Chanting is therefore the supreme meditation, sacrifice, and form of worship.
  79. We should live only to be counted among the followers of he, the spiritual master, whose mercy has allowed us to understand the ultimate goal of life, to attain love of God. Otherwise, it is better to die thousands of times.
  80. One can never become eligible to serve Govinda by neglecting the service of he, who is Śrī Nandanandana’s life and soul, or by neglecting the service of that person’s servants.
  81. Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s holy name is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss. Therefore, we will not try to mix material contamination with Kṛṣṇa’s holy names. Kṛṣṇa’s holy names will continue to spread their supreme influence over all other sources of knowledge.
  82. Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya has repeatedly reminded the living entities that they have to become free from the clutches of material conceptions and go to the supreme abode of the reservoir of all pleasure by fully engaging in His transcendental loving service in a pure and self-realized state. They should remember that they do not have to carry the imagination and thought-flow of this world to the spiritual world.
  83. Skeptics, atheists, materialists, and impersonalists all ultimately desire to merge into one godlessness.
  84. Viṣṇu’s steady worshipers, who are initiated into Viṣṇu mantras, know that they are spirit souls, Kṛṣṇa’s eternal servants. They also know that all living entities are meant for Kṛṣṇa’s enjoyment and that all objects are simply ingredients for His service. They are neither interested in material advancement like the karmīs nor interested in building Rāvaṇa’s staircase to heaven like the impersonal monists.
  85. The Lord’s devotees do not become carried away by the current of materialistic thought. Because they are not greedy for money, women, or material fame, they remain equipoised when they are both praised and blasphemed. They do not indulge in faultfinding. Rather, they remain busy glorifying Kṛṣṇa in the mood of separation and remain indifferent to worldly etiquette, Vedic injunctions, social oppression, chastisement, hatred, and embarrassment.
  86. The living entities have no other business than to always chant Kṛṣṇa’s glories. The congregational chanting inaugurated by Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya is meant simply to engage us in chanting Kṛṣṇa’s holy names, realizing Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s true nature, realizing the true nature of the holy name, and in understanding our constitutional position. As long as we have even a tinge of physical or mental awareness, we cannot perform Śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana. By the mercy of guru and the Vaiṣṇavas, we learn of our relationship with the Supreme Lord. The more we forget the relationship we have with body and mind, the more the Lord’s holy name manifests in our heart. From our heart, the holy name will travel to the tip of the tongue and dance constantly in the form of sound vibration.
  87. The holy name is by nature eternal and full of knowledge and bliss. By the holy name’s mercy, a living entity revives his spiritual consciousness. Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is the reservoir of all transcendental pleasure, manifests in a heart filled with simplicity, before eyes that have been fully spiritualized, on a tongue inclined to His service, and in an ear inclined to hear kṛṣṇa-kathā. The holy name manifests in those senses that are engaged only in pleasing His senses.
  88. Those who chant the holy names of the Lord should follow the following eight rules:
    1. (a) They should keep firm faith in the words of guru and Śāstra.
    2. (b)  They should associate with devotees who are engaged in chanting the holy names.
    3. (c) They should perform bhajana by hearing and chanting the kṛṣṇa-kathā spoken by saintly persons.
    4. (d)  Following the above rules will result in anartha-nivṛtti. In the kingdom of sādhana, a practitioner must follow these four basic processes of bhajana.
    5. (e)  Those who chant the holy names must have undivided attention when they chant.
    6. (f) They should chant the holy names according to the taste of their personal relationship with the Lord.
    7. (g)  They should be attached to chanting the holy names.
    8. (h) In this way, they will attain bhāva-bhakti, the preliminary stage of love of God, which is also called permanent rati.
  89. Complete, uninterrupted liberation means love of God. Service to Nanda Mahārāja’s son, who is one without a second, is love of God. There is no question of any inauspiciousness in this service.
  90. The materialistic philosophy, whether appearing in India or in a foreign country, is certainly a failure, because it is out of touch with reality.
  91. Bhagavad-gītā consists of eighteen chapters and seven hundred verses. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam consists of eighteen thousand verses and is the natural commentary on the Bādarāyaṇa-sūtras. In the case of the Bhāgavatam, the compiler of the sūtras is also their commentator.
  92. If living entities do not worship Hari, they will become jñānīs, karmīs, or materialists. That is why we should always invoke the Lord by chanting the mahā-mantra.
  93. Just because mundane thoughts appear in the mind while we chant the holy name does not mean we should slacken our chanting. The useless thoughts will gradually disappear as the irrevocable fruits of chanting the holy names. Do not be in a hurry.
  94. The distance between our self and our gross and subtle bodies gradually diminishes when we chant the holy name and we soon revive awareness of our original constitutional position. When we are thus self-realized, the Lord’s pure holy name will manifest in our heart and we will directly see Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental form.
  95. If we desire to chant Hari’s name offenselessly, then we should chant constantly. Constant chanting will vanquish our offenses.
  96. Serving the Lord’s devotee is more profitable than serving the Absolute Truth. We will greatly benefit from serving the spiritual master and the Vaiṣṇavas. Fallen souls are delivered by engaging in such service.
  97. Our only bridge is to follow in the mahājanas’ footsteps.
  98. Making a show of possessing transcendental knowledge by accepting initiation and actually achieving transcendental knowledge are not the same thing.
  99. Only those who serve the Supreme Lord are glorious. In the midst of all difficulties, hear, chant, and remember the Supreme Lord.
  100. A person who thinks even once, “O Kṛṣṇa, I will serve You. You are my only shelter,” attains auspiciousness.
  101. The Vaiṣṇavas and non-Vaiṣṇavas are not equal, just as rice and dāl do not in themselves equal mahāprasāda. Neither are Lord Govinda and the ordinary living entities equal. Similarly, the Lord’s holy names and ordinary names are not equal.
  102. We are cheated until we realize that our only duty is to serve Lord Kṛṣṇa and His devotees.
  103. Only one who takes shelter of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet attains liberation from the clutches of Maya. Living entities have no business other than to worship Kṛṣṇa. There is no other object of worship than His holy name.
  104. The thirteen doctrines preached vigorously in Kali-yuga are unfavorable to the topmost, conclusive philosophy taught by Śrī Gaurasundara, the Lord of the fourteen worlds, which express sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojana. The thirteen useless doctrines are as follows:
    • (a) The theory of godless, materialistic Cārvāka, which is opposed to the Vedas.
    • (b) The godless argumentative theory of Buddhism, which encourages temporary worship of material qualities.
    • (c) The argumentative theory of Jainism, which encourages the worship of material qualities.
    • (d) The theory of argumentative atheistic Sāṅkhya practiced by the followers of atheist Kapila.
    • (e) The theory practiced by Patañjali’s argumentative followers.
    • (f) Śaṅkarācārya’s monistic theory, which tries to reconcile spirit and matter and which is apparently in agreement with the Vedas.
    • (g) The theory of reconciliation that appears to agree with the Vedas but that encourages the worship of material qualities.
    • (h) The logicians’ theory that encourages the worship of material qualities and that denies transcendental sound vibration (Śabda-brahma) as evidence.
    • (i) The theory of variegatedness, which encourages the worship of material qualities and denies transcendental sound vibration as evidence.
    • (j) The theory of the grammaticians, which encourages the worship of material qualities and pretends to agree with the Vedas.
    • (k) The theory of Śaivites that encourages the worship of material qualities, rejects the path of argument, and teaches that the living entities are liberated even while living in this world.
    • (l) The theory of direct perception, which encourages the worship of material qualities and is contaminated by material enjoyment.
    • (m) Another theory of Śaivites that encourages the worship of material qualities, believes that God can be achieved through karma, and that is contaminated by material enjoyment.
  105. Love of Kṛṣṇa is the most cherished object among all dear objects. In order to attain it, we need the help of our service—inclined senses—the senses greedy for hearing and chanting.
  106. Lord Kṛṣṇa and His name are not two separate objects. Even though they are realized or accepted differently, Kṛṣṇa’s forms, qualities, pastimes, and associates are nondifferent from His holy name.
  107. Utilize everything for Kṛṣṇa’s service. Beware! Do not take shelter of wealth, women, fame, or duplicity in the name of serving Hari. Such endeavors show nothing but aversion to Hari. The liberated souls who are inclined to serve Hari serve Him as their life and soul. Those whose every endeavor is aimed at pleasing Kṛṣṇa are liberated.
  108. A Vaiṣṇava has no possessions. Nothing can tempt his mind. There is nothing extraordinary in this world or the next, worth coveting for him; he desires only to see the beauty of the toenails of Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. Whenever we are not attracted to serving the Lord, we should understand that we have been attacked and captured by Maya’s illusory energy.