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Instant Understanding

A series of concise questions and answers.

Translated from a Bengali column
published in Śrī Gauḍīya Darśan,
Volume 1, Issue 9,
on Tuesday, 10 April 1956.

Praśnottara Mālā

A Series of Questions and Answers

1) Who is wise?

One who knows the cause of the soul’s bondage and the cause of the soul’s liberation from bondage is wise.

2) Who is foolish?

One who thinks, “I am this body” is foolish.

3) What is the path?

Devotion based on knowledge of one’s relationship with the Lord is the only path.

4) What is the wrong path?

Worldly life is the wrong path.

5) What is heaven?

Predominance of the mode of goodness is heaven.

6) What is hell?

Predominance of the mode of ignorance is hell.

7) Who is a friend?

A true Guru is our only friend.

sei se parama-bandhu, sei mātā-pitā
śrī kṛṣṇa-charaṇe yei prema-bhakti-dātā
(Śrī Chaitanya-maṅgala: Madhya-līlā, 12.195)

“One who gives others divine love for the feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is our best friend, and our true mother and father.”

8) What is our home?

The human body, the basis of experience through the senses, is our home—not simply a house.

9) Who is free?

A person who is not attached to sights, tastes, sounds, textures, and so on, and is attached to the Lord and that which is connected to Him, is free.

10) What is liberation?

muktir hitvānyathā rūpaṁ sva-rūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 2.10.6)

“Leaving the false self and existing fully in one’s true self is liberation.”

11) What is knowledge?

sā vidyā tan-matir yayā
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 4.29.29)

“That by which one becomes immersed in Kṛṣṇa is knowledge.”

12) What is the fruit of knowledge?

sei se vidyāra phala jāniha niśchaya
‘kṛṣṇa-pāda-padme yadi chitta-vitta raya’
(Śrī Chaitanya-bhāgavata: Ādi-khaṇḍa, 13.178)

“Know for certain that the mind being fixed at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa is the fruit of knowledge.”

13) What is pure devotion?

anya-vāñchhā, anya-pūjā chhāḍi’ ‘jñāna’, ‘karma’
ānukūlye sarvendriye kṛṣṇānuśīlana
ei ‘śuddha-bhakti’—ihā haite ‘premā’ haya
pañcharātre, bhāgavate ei lakṣaṇa kaya
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Madhya-līlā, 19.168–9)

“Abandoning all other desires, all other worship, all other knowledge, and all other actions, and engaging all the senses in Kṛṣṇa’s service with the intention of pleasing Kṛṣṇa—this is pure devotion, and divine love arises from this. The characteristics of pure devotion are described in Nārada-pañcharātra and Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.

14) What is the power behind our spiritual practice?

bhakta-pada-dhūli āra bhakta-pada-jala
bhakta-bhukta-śeṣa—ei tina sādhanera bala
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Antya-līlā, 16.60)

“Dust from the feet of the devotees, water that has washed the feet of the devotees, and the remnants of the devotees—these three things are the power behind our spiritual practice.”

15) What is the duty of a householder?

prabhu kahe, “kṛṣṇa-sevā, vaiṣṇava-sevana
nirantara kara kṛṣṇa-nāma saṅkīrtana”
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Madhya-līlā, 15.104)

Śrīman Mahāprabhu says, “Worship Kṛṣṇa, serve the devotees, and constantly chant the Name of Kṛṣṇa.”

16) What is the dharma for the Age of Kali?

kali-yuga-dharma—hari-nāma saṅkīrtana
yāhā bilāite prabhura na’de āgamana
(Prema-vivarta: 7.20)

“The dharma for the Age of Kali is chanting the Name of the Lord, which Śrīman Mahāprabhu came to Nadia to distribute.”

17) What is the order of the Lord?

“śuno śuno nityānanda! śuno haridāsa!
sarvatra āmāra ājñā karaha prakāśa
prati ghare ghare giyā kara ei bhikṣā
‘bala kṛṣṇa, bhaja kṛṣṇa, kṛṣṇa kara śikṣā’”
(Śrī Chaitanya-bhāgavata: Madhya-līlā, 13.8–9)

“Listen, listen, Nityānanda! Listen, Haridās! Spread My order everywhere; go door to door and beg everyone: ‘Chant the Name of Kṛṣṇa, serve Kṛṣṇa, and learn about Kṛṣṇa.’”

18) What is the instruction of the Lord?

hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare
prabhu kahe, “kahilāṅ ei mahāmantra
ihā japa’ giyā sabe kariyā nirbandha
ihā haite sarva-siddhi ha-ibe sabāra
sarva-kṣaṇa bala’ ithe vidhi nāhi āra
ki śayane ki bhojane, ki vā jāgaraṇe
ahar-niśa chinta kṛṣṇa, balaha vadane
āmā’-prati sneha yadi thāke sabākāra
kṛṣṇa vinā keha kichhu nā balibe āra”
(Śrī Chaitanya-bhāgavata: Madhya-khaṇḍa, 23.76–8, 28.27–8)

“The Lord said, ‘Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare. I have told you this mahā­mantra. All of you chant it properly. By doing so, you will attain all perfection. Chant always. There are no rules in that regard. Whether you are resting, eating, or awake—day and night think of Kṛṣṇa and chant His Name aloud. If you have any affection for Me, then do not speak of anyone or anything other than Kṛṣṇa.’”